“It was bashert!” said Sherri Leon, co-proprietor of Noshes by Sherri, describing the journey to find her husband Michael.
While a student at pharmacy school, Leon placed a personal ad in the Jewish Exponent.
“My roommate and I just did it for the heck of it — we literally said, ‘2 SJFs seeking 2 SJMs.’ We got, like, 50 replies through the P.O. box — remember this was 30-some years ago — we went on a ton of dates. Michael’s letter stood out because he was a pharmacist, and he loved skiing and tennis, just like me, but it took months to meet just because of scheduling conflicts.”
Sometime in those two months, Leon went to her travel agent’s house to pick up airline tickets and destiny loomed.
“She was a yenta so, of course, she asked me who I was dating. I told her about the personal ad thing and that there was one guy who I hadn’t met yet but seemed really promising,” she said. “She asked his name, I said, ‘Michael Leon’ and she shrieked. She ran out of the room, popped a video into her VCR and showed me Michael. He was the best man at her nephew’s wedding.”
Leon liked what she saw, so she called her future husband, then later went on a date to Bennigan’s.
“It was an instant connection. We talked nonstop, ended up closing the place down; they asked us to leave,” she said. “We kept talking in the parking lot, and we are still talking!”
Michael Leon proposed sometime later.
“We were going skiing up to Killington. He insisted on stopping at a hardware store on the way. I was, like, why? We finally got there. It was a foggy, gray day, and Michael raced off the lift and whizzed down the hill. I was yelling, ‘Where are you?’ He yelled to come down, and when I got there he had written in blue contractor’s tape, ‘Sherri, will you marry me?’
That’s why he stopped at the hardware store. It was beautiful from day one.”
Thirty years, three kids and two successful pharmacy careers later, the two launched a food business. Michael Leon is retired now, but Sherri Leon still works full time behind the pharmacy counter. The kids help with the business — although they are all professionals in their own right.
The business grew out of a social media quest. A woman was searching for Jewish apple cake for her brother’s birthday. She was referred to Sherri Leon, whose apple cake was legendary. She made the cake, was informed that the birthday boy, a renowned foodie and apple cake aficionado, deemed it the best he’d ever had, and pretty soon a business was born.
Their motto is “Love at first bite.”
“The first time we served up a knish to a customer, he took a bite and said, ‘This is love!’ so it kind of stuck,” Michael Leon said. “Everyone wants more, they’re addictive. Our knishes are lighter and smaller than the typical ones you might see in a deli, which, to me, can sometimes be like lead.”
Many of the recipes are passed down from the family. Michael’s mother, “Bubbe,” was known for the best matzah balls, sponge cake and all sorts of traditional Jewish fare. His grandmother lived in Israel, and he fondly recalls enjoying her poppy seed cookies on the family’s annual visits. The cookies are now on the menu, along with a variety of other sweet and savory items that vary with the season and holidays.
The couple uses local produce whenever possible and even picks their own at nearby orchards and farms during harvest time.
Noshes by Sherri is a regular fixture at many local farmers markets and recently joined the Sisterly Love Food Fair, a consortium of women-owned food businesses that banded together to sell their wares collectively around the region. The baked goods also are available to order via their website noshesbysherri.com.
The following recipe is Bubbe’s kugel and is still kept on a 3-by-5 card in the metal file card box with the other recipe cards from their mothers and grandmothers. This one was typed by Bubbe herself on her manual typewriter.
Bubbe’s Noodle Kugel
1 pound thin egg noodles
8 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese
16 ounces Breakstone cottage cheese
16 ounces Breakstone sour cream
1½ cups of sugar
¼ cup cinnamon/sugar mix
Cook the noodles and drain them.
Combine the eggs, sugar, sour cream, cottage cheese and cream cheese in a mixer.
Add that into the noodles and top it with the cinnamon sugar mix.
Bake at 350 F for 1½ hours.