Bess Klar Entertaining at 90 Photograph Credit Erin Morris
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Learn from the Pros: Entertaining at 90

Issue 06

Prudent, poise, savvy, welcoming and thoughtful are a few words that aptly describe our hostesses, who, in their 90s (one is 86) are still known to entertain a crowd at home.

OMA (86) + BELLA (90) {Berlin}
Regina Karolinski (Oma) and Bella Katz are two friends who live together in an apartment in Berlin. In 2012, the story of their lives as Holocaust survivors who returned to live in Germany after the war served as the subject matter of Oma’s granddaughter’s (Alexa Karolinski) documentary film and cookbook “Oma and Bella.” The film showcases Oma and Bella’s passion for food through the childhood recipes they cook and how food serves as an expression of their heritage, and identity. “It is fun to entertain at home. We only cook for people we like and they invite us too. You can’t just take without giving” say the women.

Oma and Bella Photo

INTERVIEW: Oma and Bella, On Entertaining in Berlin

01 Typical Menu?
First we serve pickled or chopped herring or some gefilte fish and some chopped liver. Then we serve a soup followed by a meat, like a brisket, and some sides, like a potato kugel. Finally, we serve coffee and dessert like a fruit compote, our sugar cookies and maybe some cake.

02 Advanced Preparation?
We plan two days ahead and then we buy food one day before so that the food is fresh. We don’t like old food.

03 In the Freezer? 
In the freezer you will find different meats, pierogi, kreplach and meatballs. We also keep blintzes, and stuffed cabbage, which are easy to spontaneously warm up.

04 Where do you shop?
We go to Rogacki, they sell meat and fish. He has the best quality.

Oma and Bella Photo
Photo Source: Alexa Karolinski

05 How often do you have guests over?
This summer we had guests every Saturday night and sometimes during the week!

06 Where do you turn for inspiration when cooking?
That has to be part of a person. If a person doesn’t cook for others with love, they shouldn’t cook at all.

07 Do you make everything yourselves?
Of course! Except salad dressing; we buy that.

08 Advice?
When you entertain at home you need to make sure your guests are happy and content. First you drink a L’chaim (toast) with champagne or prosecco and then comes the good food and atmosphere. When your guests go home they should say, “Oh, was that a great evening!” You can also play music and dance if you have a large apartment. Schlager music or Frank Sinatra are good. The person hosting the party has to create the mood. You have to think about your guests exclusively.

BESS, 93 {Toronto}

“How has entertaining at home changed over the years? – there is less of it” says Bess Klar, the Montrealer who has been living in Toronto for several decades. These days Bess regularly hosts her family multiple times a year for holidays and weekly dinners at her apartment. “I also entertain when I have out of town guests and I put on a luncheon for about 20 women when it is my turn to host the Hadassah chapter, a Jewish women’s philanthropic group.”

Bess Klar Entertaining at 90 Photograph Credit Erin Morris

One can only imagine how often she was entertaining when she was living in Montreal. “If it was a big occasion, sometimes we turned the garage, which was right off the den, into a club— we decorated the ceilings and walls, had a dance floor surrounded by round tables and chairs” shares Bess.

Bess Klar Entertaining at 90 Photograph Credit Erin Morris

INTERVIEW: Bess, On Entertaining in Toronto

01 Advanced Preparation:
Advanced planning depends on the occasion – I used to host a formal dinner before a number of my friends went south for the winter – Getting the table ready meant using my china, sterling and crystal. I always had complete service for both dairy and meat.

02 In the Freezer? 
My freezer always has a pretty good selection of food for short notice events like potato, rice and cheese knishes, egg rolls, pizza rolls and blueberry muffins.

Bess Klar Entertaining at 90 Photograph Credit Erin Morris

Bess Klar Entertaining at 90 Photograph Credit Erin Morris

03 Sweet Endings:
My favorite recipe is cheese cake. Over the years I have added to the standard recipe with a few little things of my own like adding sautéed apples on the crust, followed by drizzling caramel on the base before adding the cream cheese filling.

Bess Klar Entertaining at 90 Photograph Credit Erin Morris

Bess Klar Entertaining at 90 Photograph Credit Erin Morris

04 Pet Peeves:
The one thing I can`t stand, is people taking off their shoes when they come in. I think it is so uncouth to sit at a table, that is really tastefully set, in stocking feet. In bad weather in Montreal, you carried a special shoe bag.

Bess Klar Entertaining at 90 Photograph Credit Erin Morris

05 Etiquette:

  • What makes a good host/hostess gift? Chocolate, candy, wine, or some fancy note paper.
  • What is the appropriate way to thank a host?  When you leave of course but I always like to call the next day as well.

Bess Klar Entertaining at 90 Photograph Credit Erin Morris
Photo Source: Erin Morris

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