Tanya Solomon with vegetables


A recent winner on Guy's Grocery Games
on the Food Network Channel


KW: What has been your most difficult challenge as a Kosher Woman?

TS:   I had several challenges when I competed on Guy’s Grocery Games on a National Television cooking competition on the largest Food Network in the world. I had to cook Kosher & not break any Kosher rules whilecooking against 3 competitors who did  not have to think about or observe these rules.  Also, I had to keep my clothing tznius  & conduct myself on the show in line with how an observant woman  acts.  My biggest goal was not to actually  win the show (even though I am super glad I did!), it was to talk about Kosher & its principles. To get the word out that Kosher food is not bad or boring.

KW: How did you overcome this challenge?    

TS:  I worked hard to be accommodating to the set staff so they were inclined to cooperate with me. They asked that I wear pants & not cover all my hair. I asked if I could wear a skirt & at least cover the top of my head. I had to negotiate a thin line between telling them about my religious convictions without looking & sounding like a freak.

I also had to address the issue of shooting on the Sabbath. They had scheduled me to be on set from Wednesday morning at 6am to anytime Saturday. I emailed them, at risk of losing my casting on the show,  that I can’t work on the Sabbath. I waited for their response with baited breath, They were very kind & gracious & told me that I would not have to work on the Sabbath.

Guy Fieri helped with ‘my cause.  Before we shot the show, he met with the contestants off camera. He did this to makes us feel at ease & to let us know he was open to us showing off our best assets & passions. He asked if anybody had anything they wanted to exploit (I use this term in the positive). I was the only person that raised my hand. I then told him that I am a proud Observant Jew & that I keep Kosher. I explained that this way of life is important to me & I have dedicated myself to it. I also asked if he would be game for me mentioning it & using the big G-D word. He was really cute in his response. He told me "I get you Tanya. Yes, talk about your Kosher beliefs & have joy about your life & religion. But, be careful to not go too far. Like if I come up to you & ask you what you are doing, it might be too much to say "I am just over here making an omelet for G-d, Guy."  We all laughed & I decided what I was going to do. I planned to slip in anything & everything that pertained to Kosher where ever I could. I also let Guy & the other contestants know I wasn’t going to cook meat with dairy or meat with fish because I am prohibited from doing so.

I was SO delighted that most of what I said & did came out on the show. I got in that I was going to stick to Kosher principles. I also got in that even though I was using a non-kosher product, I wasn’t going to taste my dish even if it meant I’d lose the competition. 

In the end it actually impressed the judges that my food was so good without me being able to taste it.  So in addition to telling the world about keeping kosher, I won the competition!

Tanya Solomon with Guy Fiere, the host of Food Network's Guy's Grocery GamesTanya Solomon meeting with
Guy Fiere, the host of Guy's Grocery Games
on the Food Network channel


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