By Daniel Moser
(EJNews) – For too long the Edmonton culinary scene has been missing a menu with a Jewish feel to it, a place we can really call our own but with the opening of Rooster Café and Kitchen, that is no longer the case. Enter Charles Rothman, a self-described Jewish kid from Toronto who is ready and willing to bring the Jewish influenced food he grew up with to Edmonton.
The initial plan for Rooster was to be a locally focused breakfast and lunch destination, but that wasn’t enough for Rothman. In addition to great Edmonton partners such as Sgambaro’s Signature Seafood, he also forged an important relationship with a place close to his heart, Gryfe’s, the legendary bagel bakery in Toronto. Through these partnerships Rothman is able to supply Edmonton with freshly baked Toronto bagels, with options like house whipped cream cheese, homemade peanut butter, cured salmon gravlax, and Sgambaro’s smoked salmon.
Entering Rooster and seeing Rothman on the front line, dicing lox, and shmearing fresh bagels is a sight to be seen. He moves with the delicate hand and precision you’d expect from a sushi chef on display at the front of the restaurant, but he is preparing a dish that is culturally relevant for himself and the Jewish community of Edmonton.
Feelings of nostalgia are ever present in Rothman’s desire to bring Jewish cuisine to Edmonton. When seated with him, his natural ability as a storyteller weaves the tale of what brought him here. “The older I get,” Rothman remarks, “the more appreciation I have for our culture’s cuisine…. I now find myself craving some of my late father’s favourites, like smoked whitefish salad, and pickled herring.”
The Kitchen and Café are just the first steps though in what Rothman is hoping will become an expanded Jewish cuisine lineup. His Matzo Ball Soup is second to none, easily the best in the city, including Bubbie’s (just don’t tell her).
Forging his way onto the new frontier is something that was ingrained in him at a young age, and it plays a large part in his Jewish identity. “My Father’s parents were Holocaust survivors. This was pivotal for me as a child,” Rothman explains. “My parents taught me about the sacrifices my family made for me to have a better life, and how proud I should be to be Jewish and proud of the perseverance of my ancestors.”
Speaking to Rothman, his passion and seriousness for his craft bleeds through. In addition to catering events with Kosher style options, he’d like to add more deli items, and more classic Jewish comfort food, with his own personal twist. Such was the case when he created the Gail Hall sandwich, in memory of the great Edmonton chef who tragically died of breast cancer in 2016. The kippered salmon club, served on challah, mixes classic Jewish elements, uses ingredients from local suppliers, and $1 from every sandwich sold goes to the Edmonton Community Foundation’s Chef Gail Fund. It is a perfect representation of everything near and dear to both Rooster and Rothman.
Rooster brings a new Jewish and Kosher style catering option to the scene in Edmonton as well, and just in time for planning for your next simcha. A late-night bagel bar, with house whipped cream cheese and lox sounds like a great idea for any Jewish wedding.
Located in the heart of Edmonton, on 107 Street and Whyte Avenue (10732 82 Ave.), Rooster is sure to be a hit with the brunch crowd, and an amazing option for Jewish style comfort food that can’t help but bring a sense of nostalgia to your soul, and stomach.
Rooster Cafe and Kitchen is open 7 days a week with main kitchen and full restaurant service ending at 3 pm and 4 pm on Sundays.