TEANECK, N.J. -- Chanalee Fischer's busy season is right around the corner: Rosh Hashanah. The "Challah Fairy" — who sells her challahs in Teaneck and Englewood bakeries — says her twist on the traditional, Jewish bread is exactly what helped her business take off.
Fischer of Monsey began baking challah in her house when her kids were young, which led to sharing her homemade baked goods with friends.
Word of mouth soon took over, and Fischer began selling her wares to friends and acquaintances, delivering them herself every Thursday night. What began as a small business began growing, first in Rockland County, then to Bergen, specifically Teaneck and Englewood, then the Upper East and West Sides of Manhattan, and eventually to Scarsdale and New Rochelle in Westchester.
All challahs were delivered to private homes and doormen buildings by Fischer herself. "By the time I got home most Thursday nights, it was the wee hours of Friday morning," she said. "When Shabbat rolled around, I was completely exhausted."
Which is how she ended up opening a storefront in New City. She has been there five years churning out challahs with an interesting mix on the traditional-- think plain, sesame, everything, cinnamon, chocolate chip, raisin, cinnamon raisin, whole wheat and gluten-free.
The most popular is the crumb with vanilla crumblings on top.
As may be expected, Rosh Hashanah, coming up on Wednesday, is her busiest time of the year, as are Fridays.
Challahs are baked every weekday and also sold to area supermarkets and distributed through local schools. She also donates leftover challahs to the Kosher Troops, an organization that sends kosher packages to Jewish troops all over the world.
Fischer said the key to her success is not only the love she puts into each product, but her personality. "I love schmoozing with people," she said. "Additionally, children have a special place in my heart and no child leaves here empty-handed, especially those whose mothers say 'No!'"
To keep things fresh (no pun intended), she's always looking for ways to mix things up. Recently, against the advice of her chef, she ordered a chocolate fountain, "because every once in a while you need a challah dipped in melted chocolate," she said.
She also started making Play Dough, challah, basically strands in different colors that looks like the real thing. Said Fischer: "People are nervous to eat it but it tastes just as good as our 'regular' brands."
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