A Quick Bite With Maya Jankelowitz

A Quick Bite With Maya Jankelowitz

If you follow the Man Repeller on Twitter, you’ll know that Jack’s Wife Freda is one of Leandra Medine’s favourite Manhattan haunts. With fancy comfort nosh as good as JWF’s, it’s little wonder why. You know those places that hate to be hip, but can’t help but be just that. Owners Dean and Maya Jankelowitz have style in shed-loads (don’t you just adore Maya’s printed Sandro pants?) and met almost ten years ago on a cigarette break outside Balthazar where Maya used to work. They have since married, had two sons, Noam (6) and Bennie (2) and opened JWF. Dean is South African, and Maya grew up near Tel Aviv, so the menu reflects their backgrounds. “South African Israeli Jewish Grandmother Cuisine,” is how New York Magazine described the food. For two foodies, in the restaurant biz for years, feeding reluctant eaters has been somewhat of a challenge. But Maya is confident that the boy’s appetites will grow as they do.

mayajankle

SPC: What is your earliest food memory?
Maya: Chicken noodle soup and matzo ball soup. I would eat my mom’s chicken noodle soup like other kids eat cereal with milk.

SPC: Are there any foods that you grew up eating that you now cook for your own children?
Maya: Chicken noodle soup! Except all my picky boys eat are the carrots and the chicken.

mayajankleboys

SPC: People rave about the zucchini fritters, Shakshuka and rosewater waffles. What is your children’s favourite menu item at JWF?
Maya: The endless French fries, ketchup, and bottomless coca-cola. Haha.

jackswifefreda

SPC: How do you get around feeding two picky eaters?
Maya: I struggled with it a lot and tried to figure out what I was doing wrong and felt guilty for not being able to feed the boys a variety of dishes. And then I found peace with it. Instead of focusing on what they don’t eat, I started to focus on what they do eat. They love chicken schnitzel, mash potatoes, fried tilapia, Persian cucumbers, popcorn, Kefir, watermelon, apples, strawberries and bananas. The list of things I wish they would love is even longer, but if this is what they love for now, I’ll take it! And I’m sure it’s not set in stone. The list will be changing up in no time. The less I stress over what they eat the more open they are to trying new things.

jackswifemeal

SPC: Do your sons spend much time at the restaurant?
Maya: They do! We live five-minutes away from the restaurant. Noam actually painted all the walls when we were under construction.

SPC: And at home, do they muck in with the cooking?
Maya: They love helping to prep, putting everything out and displaying it, and of course, tasting. They have their own toy kitchen as well where they spend hours dreaming up recipes.

mayajanklebaby

SPC: What do mealtimes look like in your home?
Maya: Seven different plates with eight different options

SPC: What about your own diet? How do you maintain healthy balanced eating habits while running a restaurant and raising two children?
Maya: It’s a juggling act, but I try to be conscientious of what I consume, rarely over indulge and generally keep it simple.

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