Prepared kosher food is now available in Savannah once a month at the Starland Yard Food Truck Park in midtown. The truck – called Gili’s Kitchen – is associated with Gili’s Kitchen restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida.
Gili’s will be at Starland Yard, 2711 DeSoto Ave., just north of Victory Drive, on the third Sunday of the month, said Gili’s Kitchen owner Ricki Ben Simon, who initially was invited to Savannah by Rabbi Zalman Refson, director of Chabad (jewishsav.org).
“With the lack of kosher dining options in Savannah, there was a great need for a sustainable kosher dine-in experience for the community,” said Refson, adding that Gili’s truck visited in October for an outdoor Jewish holiday event and was a “major hit.”
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Ben Simon said she was impressed with both the success of the fall event and Starland Yard. She immediately knew that she wanted Gili’s Kitchen to visit Savannah on a monthly basis.
According to Refson, “the Hebrew word kosher means fit or proper as its relates to Jewish dietary law. Kosher foods are permitted to be eaten, and can be used as ingredients in the production of additional food items. The laws of Kosher are very extensive and complex.”
The Gili’s Kitchen food truck menu began as “eclectic international” but quickly began leaning toward Mediterranean with the addition of hummus, Israeli salad, hamburgers and other dishes because “that’s what the people want,” Ben Simon explained.
This Sunday, the food truck will be offering pastrami sandwiches, as well as corned beef, in addition to the regular items on the menu.
Chabad.org lists the following points as kosher basics:
• Certain species of animals (and their eggs and milk) are permitted for consumption, while others are forbidden — notably pork and shellfish.
• Meat and milk are never combined. Separate utensils are used for each, and a waiting period is observed between eating them.
• Meat must come from animals that are slaughtered in a specific (and painless) manner known as shechitah, and certain parts of the animal (including the blood) must be removed.
• Fruits, vegetables and grains are basically always kosher, but must be insect-free. Wine or grape juice, however, must be certified kosher.
• Since even a small trace of a non-kosher substance can render a food not kosher, all processed foods and eating establishments require certification by a reliable rabbi or kashrut supervision agency.
Refson said that having a place like Gili’s, where people of all backgrounds can enjoy kosher and Israeli cuisine, is an advantage for the Savannah community.
“Having exposure to different cultures brings understanding, tolerance, and unity,” he said.
A follower of the Orthodox Jewish faith, Ben Simon lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and only eats food that is kosher. When she couldn’t find a restaurant that offered prepared kosher selections, she contacted people in Israel and hired a well-traveled chef named Gili Ben Simon. Gili’s Kitchen opened in Jacksonville in 2017.
For future dates and a look at the food truck menu, visit giliskitchen.com.
The Starland Yard Food Truck Park offers rotating food trucks weekly. For food truck hours and more information about Starland, call 912-417-3001 or go to Starlandyard.com.
If you go
What: Gili’s Kitchen kosher food truck
Where: Starland Yard, 2711 DeSoto Ave., just north of Victory Drive
When: Noon-8 p.m. every third Sunday of the month in 2021.
More info: giliskitchen.com