By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN
Last weekend, friends and admirers of the late food maven Norene Gilletz received very exciting news on Facebook: Canada’s “Queen of Kosher Cuisine,” was posthumously inducted into the Taste Canada Hall Of Fame.
Taste Canada is an umbrella organization that connects food and beverage writers, publishers, chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, industry, culinary colleges, media and cookbook fans.
Gilletz’s induction was part of Taste Canada’s virtual awards ceremony that was live-streamed on Facebook the evening of Oct. 25.
She was honoured for lifetime achievement in culinary writing.
Indeed, she authored 12 books, articles for a host of kosher publications, and was a long-time columnist and food blogger for The Canadian Jewish News.
Gilletz died last February. She was 79.
Taste Canada also announced awards in a number of categories for the country’s best cookbooks of 2019. Gilletz’s last book, The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Memory – co-written with the late Edward Wein – was on the long list of nominations for a Taste-Canada Award in the category of Health and Special Diet Cookbooks.
Gilletz’s induction into the Taste Canada’s Hall of Fame was serendipitous, related Carol Press, the administrator of Norene’s Kitchen, an 11,000-member Facebook group founded by Gilletz in 2011.
Press said she came across a Facebook page for the Culinary Historians of Canada (CHC), where she discovered the Taste Canada Hall of Fame.
“I had contacted Taste Canada about this time last year about considering Norene for the award…I wrote them a letter. I told them who I was and I gave a brief introduction to Norene.”
Press wrote about Gilletz’s culinary accomplishments including her role as editor of Second Helpings, Please!, the iconic kosher cookbook that launched Gilletz’s culinary career.
“I told them that she had a new book coming out and that she was in her late 70s…They said they would take this into consideration for 2020.”
Just two days before Gilletz’s death, Press said she contacted Taste Canada again. “I don’t know what possessed me… I wish I had known about the award earlier.”
She said Gilletz was very tech savvy, having embraced new culinary technology like the microwave and food processor ahead of others.
Press pointed out that Gilletz also understood the role of social media and was connecting to her followers on Facebook, years ahead of people her age.
Gilletz’s son, Doug Gilletz, a culinary instructor and trained chef, also got involved with the CHC. “I decided to join the Culinary Historians as a way of promoting Mom,” he said from his home in Montreal. “Carol nominated her last year.
“In June we were told that she would be an inductee into the Hall of Fame, but we couldn’t tell anybody…I thought it was a great honour.”
He said he and his two siblings were hoping to attend the ceremony in person, but with the persistence of COVID, the awards evening became a virtual event,” Doug recalled.
“They gave us approval two days before the Taste Canada Awards [ceremony] to announce the event on Facebook.”
Gilletz said his mother was hard-working throughout her career. “She never took a vacation. She’d always be on her iPad. She never stopped.
“Even when she was in the hospital, she never took a break. She would tell me who to call and who to contact. She got a lot of satisfaction from her work.”