Summer Camp friends Ashley Albert and Kevin Rodriguez, founders of The Matzo Project, set out to try a new take on the culturally beloved, but frequently bland matzo cracker. They came up with a super-snappy, extra-sturdy, crazy-versatile snack that goes with everything they’ve tried to put on it.
Ashley (who also happens to own The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Downtown Brooklyn) had been tinkering with the idea of making an updated matzo cracker for nearly 20 years and casually mentioned it to Kevin when they were chatting about him making a career change.
That afternoon, Kevin ran out and bought a bag of kosher flour and immediately began experimenting in his kitchen. The two would taste-test recipes while Ashley started sketching out plans for The Matzo Project’s branding and packaging. That work led to their muse – the Jewish grandmother on their Matzo box – asking the person at the store “WOULD IT KILL YOU TO TRY SOMETHING NEW?!”.
After selling out their first trial batch in a single day, the two friends moved out of their tiny commissary kitchen and into a larger Kosher bakery in Brooklyn to take their innovative-unleavened-wonders on the road.
In the past few months, The Matzo Project has been embraced by the cracker-eating big shots at the James Beard House, Balaboosta Soho and the Conan O’Brien Green Room, and they are now poised to delight shoppers at specialty stores like Zabar’s, Dean and Deluca, and Eataly.
In addition to their Matzo Squares and Matzo Chips, which come in three varieties, including Salted, Everything and Cinnamon-Sugared, The Matzo Project also offers an all-natural, vegan Matzo Ball Soup Kit, and is developing a line of hand-dipped Chocolate Matzo Chips and Buttercrunch.
“Kevin and Ashley bring a youthful exuberance to a very old product,” says Rabbi Eli Eleff, The Matzo Project’s OU Kosher rabbinic coordinator. “They are not only a pleasure to deal with, but their enthusiasm is contagious.”
While traditional matzos continue to reside in the ethnic food section, the creative matzo duo hope their product will also claim a prominent spot in the cracker aisle, right next to the Rosemary Pita Chips and the Gorgonzola Fig Toast
Editor’s note: These innovative products are not certified kosher for Passover.