Jewish Book Fair returns to JCC

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published November 2, 2016

 Farmington Hills resident Lisa Rose will read her book “Shmulik Paints the Town” at 1 p.m. Nov. 6. A painting project will be tied into the book reading.

Farmington Hills resident Lisa Rose will read her book “Shmulik Paints the Town” at 1 p.m. Nov. 6. A painting project will be tied into the book reading.

WEST BLOOMFIELD — In the 1980s, Ina Pinkney and her husband would go to restaurants for breakfast every day. 

But because pastry chefs were not prominent in that era, she said, the food was “boring” and the coffee was “awful,” especially because no one was roasting coffee beans. 

“We had a list of restaurants on the back door of my house. We had to figure out what we wanted to eat first,” she said, explaining that if they wanted omelets, they went to one restaurant. Pancakes? They’d go elsewhere.

When she was 37, she baked her first cake. She then spent the next 11 years playing with butter, flour, sugar and eggs. She started a surprise birthday cake delivery service and began testing all the recipes she had collected over the years. 

“Somewhere, after eating really bad foods, I said to (my husband), ‘Why can’t anyone make a really great breakfast?’” Pinkney said. 

When she was 48 she opened a fine-dining breakfast restaurant in Chicago. Between using white table clothes, importing coffee and serving soft sweet butter — not the butter chips that were hard as a rock — she wanted to offer a restaurant that was focused on the customer. 

“Just like Steve Jobs knew what he wanted you to feel like holding the iPhone, I knew what I wanted you to feel like sitting in that chair,” she said. 

For 22 years, she served three generations of Chicagoans as the “Breakfast Queen,” but when it came time to close Ina’s Kitchen in December 2013, she felt it was her obligation to continue to share her food. Before she shut her doors, Pinkney released a cookbook of the recipes used at the restaurant. Now, three years later, she continues to share her story and recipes. 

Pinkney is one of many authors who will be featured at the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit’s Jewish Book Fair, which runs through Nov. 15. Events will be held at the JCC and at the Berman Center for the Performing Arts.

 Pinkney will hold a cooking demonstration at the Berman at 11 a.m. Nov. 8. While a local chef will be creating some of her signature recipes, Pinkney will talk the audience through the dishes and tell the story of how she went from growing up in a kosher home in Brooklyn, New York, to becoming “breakfast royalty” in Chicago. 

Beth Robinson, director of the fair, said that in preparation for the Jewish Book Fair, the committee went to New York to hear 270 authors speak. Forty authors, including some local, will be featured in West Bloomfield over a week and a half.

Lisa Rose, of Farmington Hills, wrote “Shmulik Paints the Town,” which is about the town painter, Shmulik, who is contracted to paint a mural for Israeli Independence Day. But Shmulik can’t decide what to paint. 

“He is the biggest slacker, but lucky for him, his little dog, Ezra helps him out,” Rose said. 

After Rose published the book she was selected to be a part of PJ Library. The program sends free Jewish children’s books to families across the world every month. 

“My book was selected, and so that means it went to 4-year-olds, and that is across North America,” Rose said. 

When she launched her book at the JCC, it was paired with the PJ Library branch in Detroit, and the library sponsored related art projects. Rose was the first author selected from metro Detroit to be a part of PJ Library. 

“It’s a very special thing, and I was very honored to be selected soon after publication,” she said. 

Rose said that while some at the book fair may have already gotten her book in the mail or during her book launch, her free program — which will be held at 1 p.m. Nov. 6 — will be different than her launch. The program will include a book reading by Rose and a Shalom Street painting project.

“Everyone should come for the activity and for the community and … celebrating books in general,” Rose said. 

Rose said she wrote the book to empower children to explore their inner artist. While it touches on Israeli Independence Day, she said it’s not just a book for Jewish children. 

Although the fair is sponsored by the JCC, Robinson said the books are for everyone, and many of the events are free and open to the public. 

“You can get the books anywhere — you can go to Amazon to get the books — but the thing that’s special about the book fair is you get to come listen to the authors talk about why it was important for them to write this book,” Robinson said. 

Listening to an author in person is an experience that many don’t get often, she said. 

Rose said she is excited to participate in the book fair because while she is a part of the PJ Library or even if she went on to win a Nobel Prize, the one question she gets from people is if she is part of the fair. 

“I can finally say, ‘I am,’” she said.

For a complete list of book fair events and times, visit www.jcc.org/bookfair. All programming will be held at the Jewish Community Center or the Berman Center for the Performing Arts, both located at 6600 W. Maple Road in West Bloomfield. For events at the Berman, contact the box office at (248) 661-1900 or visit www.jccdet.org.