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Did you always believe in her, or did you think the cookbooks were a cute distraction at first?

Rachel Bachrach

Kalman Fishbein is the husband of Susie Fishbein, author of the Kosher by Design cookbook series. Hes a property manager in the New York area.

Kalman Fishbein
PHoto: MeIr HAltovSKy

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Whats it like to be the guinea pig for your wifes recipes, and are you allowed to be totally honest?

Were married 21 years, and the 40 pounds Ive gained since tell me I enjoy it. Susies new cookbook, Cooking Coach, has 120 recipes. There are many more that didnt make it to us or past us testers. These 120 are the ones that made the cut. We have to be honest, but we tell her very carefully. One time, we had company, and Susie made a Jerusalem artichoke soup that had an incredible pepper overkill. I dont think anyone wanted to scream out, Oh, my gosh, its overloaded with pepper, but the painful expressions gave it away.

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books?

Do you have any other role in the cook-

I married her, didnt I? Shes always been driven and very energetic. I believe as a teacher, mom, wife, bottle washer, whatever, she brings those qualities to the table. Cooking was always a passion, and Susie enjoyed hosting. I remember one time, years ago, she made dinner at her moms place and was bringing it over. She had it on this dolly cart and she was wheeling it with this big grin on her face in the lobby, dripping cherry jubilee sauce all over the floor. I dont think the doorman ever forgave her.

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In the earlier years I was more involved because of my experience in the business world. It was a big leap for Susie she was a teacher to cookbooks, so I tried to help her with vendors and billing and bookkeeping. Now shes experienced and confident shes not asking my opinion on that end anymore.

The Kids in the Kitchen, because Susie was very sweet to include a lot of the neighborhood kids, of all ages from teens to much younger. We have an open house, our kids and their friends are always running around, and they and other kids from the neighborhood were coming by to help test recipes out. Some took it very seriously, writing little notes to her about different recipes. She included their names in the front of the cookbook.

With which cookbook did you enjoy the testing the most?

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How has Susies success affected your life as a family?

Shell barter her work, so its given us either as a couple or with the kids opportunities to see different things and new places. We went to Disney once, another time on a cruise. Ive gone on several of her shows. We just got back from San Diego. Its a place I always wanted to see but wed never been.

Which of her recipes is your favorite?

Currently? I love the Yemenite soup. Its in the Cooking Coach. Its so unusual. How many people do you know who make the same three or four soups? Everyone, right? Theyre good, but this is great for variety and its phenomenal!

Everyone asks that question. We have very close friends weve been going to regularly, even before Kosher by Design. Susie and the wife go back to high school. She tells us so many of the women in her community say, Are you crazy, how do you cook for Susie Fishbein?! This woman happens to be an excellent cook, but either way, shes not intimidated. Its not what were eating, its the ability to be together, and the closeness. Same thing when we go out to eat. Susie has never let her ego get involved.She doesnt let it be known that shes coming. The reservation is either under Kalman or Susie. If they figure it out, its often a little awkward, because shes not there as a food critic whatever restaurant were in, were there to enjoy the company.

Is it awkward for people to host the Fishbeins for meals?

Its my greatest pleasure to live in her shadow. If we go to a show, a bar mitzvah, wherever, people ask me, How is it to be Mr. Kosher by Design? and When are you retiring? Im not retiring just yet we have yeshivah and college to pay for. The nicest thing to see is peoples reaction to her. We were just at a PTA, and the woman behind her starts excitedly tapping Susie on her shoulder. It was this genuine happiness to meet her, especially when they realize shes approachable.

Whats it like to be introduced to people as Kalman Fishbein, Susies husband?

Whats your optimal supper?

People are shocked to hear we dont eat a formal eight-course supper every night. Plenty of nights shell make a simple meal, spaghetti and sauce, like any other mom. What I love and this is important is the fact that we try to eat together, as a family.

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Does Susie ever leave the cooking for you?

Yes. Its a secret, but Im better at omelets, hamburgers, and the macho in me says grilling. And chocolate chip cookies, but thats one Susie would highly contest. If you ask the kids, it depends who theyre trying to curry favor with at the moment.

21 Kislev 5773 | December 5, 2012

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