After several years in Atlanta, Liz Mennen, 29, realized what was missing from her life in the South: knishes. The New York-bred actuary had grown up eating the Eastern European comfort food—pastries stuffed with a mashed potato and onion filling and often meat, cheese, or other vegetables. “To me, they taste like a hug—they’re so distinctly warm and comforting,” she says.
By 2017, Mennen had become passionate about the small food movement and was living a mostly vegetarian lifestyle. She stumbled across a Jewish, vegetarian, comfort food cookbook called Vilna Vegetarian, and was inspired to create Oy Veg Kitchen.
Without any formal culinary training, Mennen learned by trial and error, as well as working with her grandmother-in-law, who she describes as a “proficient Jewish cook.”
“One day I think we tried 40 different knishes,” she says. She eventually settled on two flavors: Old School (a take on the classic potato and onion knish with cauliflower or radish to lighten it) and Sweet & Sassy (a sweet potato-based knish with caramelized onions, balsamic vinegar, and ricotta cheese). The ingredients can vary based on seasonal availability.
Mennen sells the knishes—$6 each or two for $11—at the Decatur and Brookhaven Farmers Markets. If you want to try one before the year is over, act quickly—Decatur’s last markets of the season are December 9 and 16. (Both markets reopen in the spring.) However, Mennen accepts a limited number of catering orders, too.
“This is currently a side-hustle, so the intention is to grow mindfully and at a pace that makes sense. I’m very much enjoying where this venture has taken me so far,” she says.