Monday, 20 February 2012

Beyond Food: By Doris Strub Epstein
Chef Margie Arosh; Beyond Food

By Doris Strub Epstein

Master Chef and food writer,
Margie Arosh, has turned her passion
and expertise for food into an
extraordinary experience benefitting
special needs Jewish adults and that
has become for her, a passion. “It is
one of the greatest gifts that food has
given me,” she says emotionally.

Kadima is a special needs
organization for Jewish adults
based at Beth Emeth Synagogue
and directed by Marcel Cohen. For
three years, once a month, Margie
has taught a cooking class especially
designed for them, incorporating also
arts and crafts and music. About 45
to 55 come. They are all ages. Ninety
per cent are middle-aged, some with
severe autism.

“We tie in Jewish holidays with
food. Or it could be a pizza party,
something fun for them. For instance
for Tu b’Shvat we talked about trees,
fruits and vegetables. I always make
a pot of soup. This time it was
mushroom –barley. We made a huge
salad with all kinds of vegetables.
They learned how to make bruschetta
and salad dressing without a spoon.
For dessert, pre -made tart shells with
a whipped cream and pudding filling
with fresh, cut-up fruit. They weren’t
allowed to eat it till they showed it to
me,” she said laughing.

Through the food, Margie connects
with all of them. She greets them with
hugs and kisses. “One woman with
autism, never spoke. You should see
how she communicates now. She’s
coming out of her shell.” Over and
over, Margie delightedly listed the
changes she has seen. “They have a
feeling of accomplishment and they
have fun. This is the power of food,”

she says. It’s also the power of Margie
who knows how to connect with them
through her warmth, enthusiasm and
heartfelt caring. “I wish I could do
it every day,” she says emotionally.
Every session ends with the singing
of O Canada and Hatikva.

Margie brings a unique. delicious
dynamic to cooking. “I was inspired
by my Spanish Moroccan mother. I
combine that with my French culinary
education and season it with lots of
nutrition and many years of cooking
with love.”

She was born in Canada one year
after her parents emigrated from
Tangiers in l961. The Benmergui
name became well known because
her father was a leader in the then,
new Sfardic community. He was
one of the founders of Petah Tikva
Synagogue, and Or Hemet Sfardic
School. Margie attended Etz Chaim

and Bais Yaacov schools. “ I‘m a
fusion of Sfardic and Ashkenaz,” she
says. “My food reflects that.” She
spent a year in Israel obtaining her
Israeli bagrut, high school degree and
falling in love with Israel.

Teacher, mother of two, work
in food/baking family business, 20
years passed. “But I always cooked
a lot.” Accidently she found an
ad about George Brown College’s
cooking school. Days later she was
registered. This was followed by a
rigorous apprenticeship with a well
known Jewish caterer in the finest
food venues.

In 2006, Margie’s Kitchen was
born. Soon after, she began writing a
weekly food page in Shalom Toronto
which is far more than food. You’ll
find history, nutritious tips, cultural
insights as well as her special recipes
that combine to create Margie’s

Chef Margie Arosh

special ta’am.

About her work with Kadima, she
says, “I want to expand. I’m ready to
go anywhere there are disadvantaged
adults and children. I’ve discovered
I have a gift for this. I see what joy
I bring.”

Margie’s Easy Berry Tarts


12 frozen small tart shells

250 grams dairy or parve whipped

1 package vanilla pudding mix

Strawberries, blueberries for


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prebake tart shells for 10 – 15
minutes until lightly golden.

Remove from oven and let cool
completely before filling. Prepare
the pudding according to package

directions. Whip the cream until
it comes to a stiff peak. Carefully
stir or fold to combine equal parts
of the whipped cream and pudding.
Garnish the tarts with the berries and

Serves 12

Margie’s Mushroom Barley Soup


1 large yellow onion finely

2 medium diced carrots

2 medium diced celery stalks and
leave 500 grams assorted chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh
1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black
1 cup dried pearl barley
8 cups chicken stock or water + 3
tablespoons chicken soup powder
In a large stock pot, sauté the onion
with the olive oil over medium heat
until the onions are translucent, 3-4
minutes. Add the carrots and celery,
sauté 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms
herbs, salt, pepper and stock. Bring
to a boil, then simmer from 1 to 1 and
a half hours, stirring periodically. If
the soup is too thick add more water.
Remove the bay leaves and taste to
adjust seasoning before serving.
Serves 6 – 8
To discover Margie’s blog,
For her recipes,

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