The names Julia Child and Martha Stewart have become well known over the years as great creative chefs. I do not believe that any of those ladies come anything close to the endearment and comradery that is felt by the 10,000-plus members of Norene Gilletz’s “Norene’s Kitchen” Facebook page. Although her rise to fame began in Montreal with the evolution of her first cookbook—”Second Helpings, Please”—she has over the years become known as the most famous Canadian author of cookbooks. “Second Helpings” was the first go-to source for any bride-to-be in either Montreal or Toronto. No Jewish household was without it, and shortly after our arrival in Canada I became one of Norene’s greatest fans.
Since then Norene has written many books and contributed to major food discussions. “The Food Processor Cookbook,” later renamed the “Food Processor Bible,” has become a treasured relic. If anyone ever finds it at a garage sale or flea market, be sure to grab it and make use of its wonderful recipes and helpful hints.
With more than the 12 books that Norene has authored or co-authored, she also was able to indulge in many other endeavors. In 1980 she opened her first cooking school. She has lectured widely, given cooking classes, lectured on healthy food choices, and even has a company called Gourmania in which some of her well-known recipes are being sold as prepared foods.
Much has transpired since a young woman took the reins in gathering all of the information necessary to create “Second Helpings, Please.” I am quite sure that if one were to ask Norene today if she ever dreamt that her name would one day become synonymous with “the” person that most Canadien Jewish women would turn to for any type of cooking question she would say no. It happened through much diligence and hard work.
Yet I think that Norene would also agree that her Facebook following, both men and women, is her greatest accomplishment. Not only has she created a go-to place for any type of cooking question or suggestion, she has established a large group of people from scattered areas of the globe who have learned to interact with each other on a daily and weekly basis. From every corner of the world people are wishing each other a Shabbat Shalom, and many are also sharing pictures of the beautiful creations they are placing on their Shabbat tables. People are sharing with others their concerns about sick family members, asking others to pray for them, as well as notifying the group of a simcha they may be celebrating. Unless you are part of this group it is hard to describe the sense of oneness that Norene has created amongst her followers.
Unfortunately, this tribute comes at a time when this very special lady is battling serious health issues of her own. She is the one who now needs our prayers. At the moment she is not able to respond to each message and post, but she reads and loves them all.
To all of the “Noreners” who read this or are part of this group, please be sure to keep Norene in your prayers as she has always encouraged all of us to do for others. We love you, Norene!
By Nina Glick