We have a fantasy in our family. We are going to open a kosher restaurant focused primarily on chicken wings. Really, really good chicken wings. Oh, and hot and crispy French fries. It’s not totally out of the realm of possibility, but the likelihood is that this will never happen. Truth is…I can’t imagine working day in and day out with family.
Family businesses aren’t for everyone, but Shelby, Jackie, and Amy Zitelman are making it work. Big time. The “Soom Sisters” are the proprietors of Soom Foods. Soom Foods launched in 2012 as a purveyor of tehina made from roasted and pressed Ethiopian white humera sesame seeds. When Jackie’s husband, Omri, an Israeli tehina expert, introduced the girls to this sesame treasure they were determined to make it available to the American market.
The Zitelman sisters are positioned to take tehina to a new level, with a high-quality product that is kosher-certified, gluten-free, peanut-free, and vegan. I was never the biggest fan of tehina. But the Zitelman girls, all graduates of the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, are former classmates of my children. After hearing about the new venture from their mom, I had to give it a try. The Soom Foods tehina changed me. I fell hard, and now my kitchen is never without it.
Soom Foods tehina has also captured the attention of restaurateurs, such as Michael Solomonov of Philadelphia’s Zahav and David Magerman of Citron and Rose. Chop’t Creative Salad Company, with 24 locations in the Greater New York and Washington, DC area, is currently offering two salads featuring Soom Foods tehina.
Says Soom sister Shelby, “High school friends will tell you that our Mom always made the most delicious, creative salads for our school lunches. So it is very exciting that Soom Foods can now pay that forward as a part of Chop’t Creative Hokkaido and Cairo Salads. According to Chop’t Chef Aneesha Hargrave, “Soom is the best, silkiest, sweetest and nuttiest tahini we’ve ever tasted. After tasting Soom Foods tehina, we liked it so much we really wanted to craft a salad dressing around it. We ended up with two really bold, really different flavor profiles that we’re excited to share with our guests.”
Chop’t is my go-to for lunchtime salads, and a Chop’t salad for dinner isn’t out of the question. I stopped by the Chop’t in Bethesda’s Wildwood Shopping Center to sample the salads, which for now are only offered in February.