7/31/08 by Chef Shaya Klechevsky
I recently conducted an interview with Dani Klein, founder of Yeah That’s Kosher – A Kosher Travel Blog. Recently launched, Yeah That’s Kosher has already developed a following, and it’s growing every day. It’s basically a completely user-driven world database of different travel destinations’ kosher tips. Traveling to Spain? You can find tips on kosher restaurants, kosher supermarkets, or pretty much anything that’ll help you with keeping Kosher while you travel. Below is our conversation:
Chef Shaya: Ok, first question: As a chef, I have to know – what did you eat for dinner?
Dani Klein: Tonight?
CS: Yup – didn’t you mention earlier that you had dinner with your in-laws?
DK: Yup. Ok… i had a Veal Burger with the works at Mr Broadway
CS: Oh nice! I’ve been to Mr. Broadway on a number of occasions…not bad….
You a fan of Veal in general?
DK: In truth, I love burgers, and I wanted to try something different, so I opted for the veal burger… I find the normal beef burger better, but it wasnt bad
CS: Hehe yeah, I tend to agree. I’m a big believer in flavor, and honestly, veal doesn’t pack as much of a flavor punch as beef. Also, I personally think it’s a waste to order veal as ground meat…whatever As long as you enjoyed yourself.
DK: I know now, that I’m not missing anything.
CS: So, you’re the founder of yeahthatskosher.com right?
CS: That’s pretty cool.
CS: What made you decide to start up a website/blog of that nature? I mean, aren’t there already Kosher tours and all sorts of kosher resources online?
DK: I’m extremely passionate about traveling. I hope to see all corners of the world in my lifetime. However, as someone who keeps kosher it is tough. I wanted a place to compile my tips, findings, and resources from the road, so to speak.
CS: I hear you – sounds pretty cool. But it seemed to have expanded beyond just your own tips, findings and resources. You’ve gotten a whole community involved!
DK: Two months ago, Arielle and I went to Scandinavia. We had to call a bunch of friends, send out emails, etc, to get personal tips from people — where to go, where to eat, where to stay, etc. And while there was information on the web, it was not very informative, and not personal. I wanted something where people can contribute their stories and tips.
CS: I mean, it’s such a great idea – I’m surprised nobody else has been able to effectively pull it off! Kudos
CS: Have you heard of chowhound? I know people post on that regarding kosher establishments.
DK: I have. I recently found it during my kosher google searches. I’ll need to start a message board in order to get those people over to my site.
CS: So how long has yeahthatskosher.com been officially up?
DK: We officially kicked it off in June, so about 6-7 weeks…I did a big push amongst my friends, and I networked like crazy to find relevant people to post…I still am.
CS: Not bad – it really picked up rather quickly! It’s clear you have a lot of friends who travel….
DK: Not really… the majority of the posts come from a minority of the writers.
CS: Majority of posts from minority of writers?
DK: Meaning… if you look at the authors page… you will see that some writers have multiple posts, but most have just one or 2, that means its the same few people who are doing the traveling and writing.
DK: Which is irrelevant as long as they can get a good post in on a different location, and they understand how to write in English.
CS: Not a bad start though…I imagine that people will contribute as they discover the site and do some traveling of their own.
CS: Is there any kind of verification system? Like, how can you verify that what has been posted is…well….true?
DK: I’m always connected… either via PC or my iPhone, so I can always review incoming posts, or reach out to potential writers or users of the site.
DK: How can you verify that what is posted on chowhound, or shamash, or facebook notes, or any blog for that matter is true? That’s the downside to the Web. The upsides are obvious.
CS: Of course
DK: In fact…shamash.org which is the kosher database has extremely outdated information. We will sometimes use their site as a link, but we will try not to if we don’t need to. Plus, its just a database, no referrals, no personal touches… and when you’re traveling abroad, you need to hear from someone that this information is in fact true.
CS: I know…really obnoxious…So is yeahthatskosher.com generating any kind of revenue?
DK: Originally, the site was intended to be a HUGE resource for the Jewish/Kosher observant community.
CS: Which of course can lead to some serious advertisers….
DK: Now, there are Google Ads, which haven’t even covered the costs I put into the site. If the site makes revenue, great. If it breaks even, then I’ve done a huge service to all kosher observant Jews around the world. I can live with that.
CS: What a mitzvah-man!
DK: But the original purpose of the site was not to make money.
CS: Well, I see a potential gold-mine on your hands and the best way to get that website to really start earning you cash is to find a way to make sure that people who post new listings can be “checked.”
DK: It’s true.
CS: Of course not – it’s clear that the original motives were altruistic in nature.
CS: I mean – that’s why people generally believe entries on wikipedia – they’re constantly being checked by other viewers and being corrected. Of course…that’s not without its own controversy…but you get my point.
DK: That’s the idea… if there are in fact mistakes, they will be corrected.
CS: All of which are great sources for start-up! Have any plans for future enhancements? Or are you kinda just waiting to see how it goes and grows and decide what to implement based on need and projection?
DK: I’ve been brainstorming, and I’m constantly bouncing ideas off of other people to add to the site; content, functions, etc. Right now we’re going to add a rating function, so people can rate a specific post.
CS: Probably a good idea First step in validating or giving one post “credits.”
DK: And my wife came up with a great idea to add “globally kosher recipes” incorporating traditionally jewish recipes from all over the world.
CS: I mean, that’s a project all its own! Has anyone been updating the “kosher listings” for NYC?
DK: I wrote a post on Manhattan, Arielle wrote a MASSIVE post on Brooklyn.
DK: We havent gotten around to Queens, SI, Bronx, or the burbs yet.
CS: Heh! We could collaborate on the recipes! Already posting mine online!
DK: For sure!
CS: Fantastic! What’s really great is that because it’s all digital, you can even add tags like “Closed on MM/DD/YYYY.” So keeping updated and dynamic content is essentially a breeze!
DK: Right… but heres the thing…because NYC — Brooklyn and ‘the city’ specifically, have SO MUCH kosher food, we don’t intend to write about every place but enough to incorporate all the areas for travelers.
CS: Also, where do you cross the line between, kosher listing and kosher REVIEW? Or is it irrelevant?
DK: Well… we will list places, but we don’t have a problem writing “such and such a place was not that good, I recommend going down the block to that other place.” The point is that the writers are getting personal… blog style. To ‘list’ a bunch of restaurants or kosher markets doesn’t do the consumer any good if they don’t have any idea about the quality of the institutions.
CS: Very cool….I would just be careful with any kind of backlash….maybe add some legal mumbo jumbo that doesn’t make you liable for any misinformation or consequences….? True – and I’m in agreement…but it does run certain legal risks…
DK: Thats true, but can one be sued for voicing their opinion? If they have bad food, we should call them out on it. Period.
CS: Well….depends on the situation…I’m no lawyer, but I’m sure there’s something somewhere that at some point down the line, it might be a good idea to look into….
DK: Thats the beauty of the web.
CS: Of course, once you accept advertising, it does create other political issues….
CS: Like, what if a restaurant pays for advertising and someone wrote a bad review? Bad news for the restaurant….
DK: I’ll have my people look into it
DK: Chances are, restaurants won’t pay for ads… I expect that kosher travel groups or companies that make portable kosher food will be our advertising clientele. Behind the scenes we’re having discussions with different websites, blogs, and such companies to see how we can partner.
CS: Probably right. Well…it definitely sounds like you have a great project on your hands, and I’m really excited to see it continue to grow and flourish!
CS: Well, I’m glad someone thought to get the ball rolling on something like this…and actually DID it! Mazal tov, and as we Sephardies like to say Mabrouk
DK: Toda Raba!