“It makes me happy to see people being happy. I am passionate about family, learning Torah values, listening to good music, and giving my followers easy cooking tips. I am exactly where Hashem wants me to be.”

~~ Kay Robyn ~~

I was thrilled to interview food maven Kay Robyn Ashkenazi, née Mizrahi.  Kay Robyn is easy-going, vivacious, and fun-loving. She is a people person and a family person. She is has been crowned “the air-frying queen” and is known for her blog, @KaysinthekitchenA woman of many passions who is highly spiritual, she trusted me with her life story.

The wheel came full circle when I met Kay Robyn.

Family Connections

Kay Robyn’s mother, Eileen Mizrahi, the creator of Treats by Eileen Gourmet Granola, was the second community woman I interviewed for the Woman to Woman column in 2017.  Eileen is now a dear friend.

Next to be interviewed was Kay Robyn’s cousin, June Aboksis, the founder of Junee, the leading provider of modest clothing for girls and women.  Closely following June’s interview was my next candidate, Cindy Antebi, Kay Robyn’s sister, who was featured in September 2018.  Scheduling my talk with Cindy, I did not realize that she was Eileen Mizrahi’s daughter.  Cindy is the owner of Oakhurst’s iconic candy, toy, and stationery store, Sylvia’s Sweet and Stationery Shoppe. She is also an Executive Board member of The Tawil Family Jersey Shore Branch of Sephardic Bikur Holim.

Gloria Bijou, the first woman I interviewed for Community, connected me with Cindy.  Gloria and her husband Fred, along with Dr. Robert Matalon and his wife Barbara, founded SBH in 1973.  SBH is the foundation of hesed and charity in our community.

Let’s get back to Kay Robyn, a bubbly and caring woman who derives tremendous joy from making other people happy.  As her followers and friends say, there is only one Kay Robyn.

Growing Up

As Kay Robyn told me about her childhood, I thought about what a beracha it is to have a lighthearted and spirited nature.  Kay Robyn’s exuberance and positive energy can be traced to her roots and to her family role models. “My parents are warm and loving. They are the best and helped me get through life’s challenges.”

Kay Robyn was born in Brooklyn to Eileen and Marty Mizrahi, both native New Yorkers of Syrian descent. Kay Robyn’s sister, Cindy, is two years older.  The Mizrahis were one of the first families to move to Deal, when Kay Robyn was 18 months old, She studied at Hillel Yeshiva from kindergarten through high school. Kay Robyn is very close with her sister and knows she can always reach out to Cindy and her mother and father for whatever she needs.

A spontaneous, friendly, and genuine child, Kay Robyn also described herself as a mediocre student but a great note taker.  Her parents called her a “free spirit.” As a tomboy, Kaye Robyn was athletic and excelled at sports, including tennis.  Since her dad had no sons, it was Kaye Robyn who lovingly watched all the sports games with him. Tall for her age, Kaye Robyn was outgoing and loud, often accidentally putting her foot in her mouth.  Cherishing her crew of childhood friends, Kay Robyn still meets up with them every summer in New Jersey.

“As a tween and teen, I was a bit funky, very colorful, always had fashion style, and was ahead of the trends.  I also loved music.”

High School and On

A fun fact:  Kay Robyn did not know Robyn was her middle name until she applied for a learner’s permit to drive. “I always thought Kay Robyn was my first name.  Kay was my maternal grandmother’s name and my dad liked the name Robyn.”

After high school, Kay Robyn attended Brookdale Community College and studied communications, following her #1 goal to be on the radio.  After college, she “tested the waters” and worked in marketing, advertising, and retail sales, searching for her sweet spot.  Kay Robyn’s people skills and authentic friendliness enabled her to easily succeed in these jobs.  “I am that person who talks to everyone, including the people on line at a supermarket or a bank.”

Kay Robyn confessed that although she appears to be very confident, she is actually “strong but sensitive.” Before falling asleep at night, Kay Robyn plays back her day to see where she can better herself.  A true empath, people tell her she would make a great psychotherapist.  Both Kay Robyn and Cindy acquired their natural inclination towards kindness and hesed primarily from their mother. They learned about business from both of their parents.

Then Comes Marriage

While Kay Robyn was looking for the right job fit, she was fortunate to meet her naseeb, Shay Ashkenazi, a spiritual and modest Israeli man of Syrian descent.  Kay Robyn expressed her immense hakarat hatov to Odette Rishty, Shay’s cousin Franny, and other community shadchanim, for making the match.  Kay Robyn is open about getting married only at 28, a bit older than the average Syrian girl. “I tried out different jobs, yearned to be a radio person, but more importantly, I wanted to settle down and have a family.”  The couple have two girls and a boy, who study at Sharei Torah and Ateret Torah, respectively.  “I have the best of both worlds. I grew up in Deal and moved to Brooklyn when I married Shay.”

When her children were young, Kay Robyn was a stay-at-home mom, but she always made time to do hesed. “First and foremost are my family and home life. I have learned that hesed begins at home and one has to save their own bayit first.”

Kay Robyn’s spirituality continues to flourish.  Her children were raised without TV and Wi-Fi and were encouraged to play with blocks and to build things.

Not surprisingly, Kay Robyn’s professional role model was Judi Franco Chalme, a community member and radio host on NJ.105.  Kay Robyn’s religious role model is Rebbetzin Molly Haber.  Kay Robyn takes classes at the Avenue J Torah Center and listens to LearnTorah.com while she bakes.  “I have never burned a batch while listening to Rabbi Joey Haber, Rebbetzin Molly’s son.  It’s important to have doses of Torah and Hashem by your side in addition to tefillah.”

Kay Robyn became a substitute teacher, and was an assistant playgroup morah at Barkai Yeshiva for four years.  She adored her students. Kay Robyn also worked with children in camps and Shabbatons.

@Kaysinthekitchen is Born

As you recall, Kay Robyn dreamed of becoming a radio host.  Her dreams and passions came to fruition with @kaysinthekitchen.

About four-and-a-half years ago, Kay Robyn began her journey as the “air-frying queen.”  Air fryers have become one of the trendiest cooking devices and are hailed as the next Instant Pot.  Manufacturers invented air fryers as a more healthful way to cook deep-fried foods, using only a fraction of the oil required by deep fryers. The added bonus was the far lower calorie count.  Kay Robyn was dieting and working with Eve Elenhorn of FlavorfulFIT.

About the same time, Kay Robyn won a local Kosher Chopped competition hosted by Naomi Nachman. She landed the prize of a free class at The Kosher Culinary Center.

With @Kaysinthekitchen, Kay Robyn entered a new phase of her career, in food services.  “Growing up, my mom was very food-oriented, started her own granola business, and I always loved to bake.”

Getting the Word Out in Her Unique Way

Kay Robyn developed an outlet to share stress-free cooking tips, stories, and demos with women on her Instagram blog, @kaysinthekitchen. She does this in “a kosher and unique way.”  Kay Robyn asserts, “Life is hard, and I offer quick and easy tools. I use Instagram but don’t abuse it. At 47, I’m doing what I want to do, talking to my followers and helping them make healthy and fun meals.”

Kay Robyn’s family is very proud of her blog. There are, however, moments when her kids exclaim, “Mom, we want to eat dinner, can you please stop taking a video of the food?!”

Before the pandemic, Kay Robyn added a new skill set.  She partnered with large kosher food companies, arranging demo tables with food tastings in kosher supermarkets and at KosherFest events.  Kay Robyn aspires to become a spokesperson for a Jewish kosher food brand and to start a podcast one day soon.

Kay Robyn also sells homemade clean gluten free cookies.

Community

Kay Robyn feels blessed to be in her community.  “There is so much positivity, love, and hesed in our community; it becomes your family.”

Her sister Cindy is in awe of Kay Robyn’s commitment to helping people and calls her a humble superwoman.  I met Kay Robyn when she was the MC at a Challah Bake sponsored by MOMS (Moms on a Mitzvah).  She is a team member of MOMS, founded by Linda Sadacka in 2013. MOMS is a group of mothers who make hesed their mission by weaving it into their daily lives.  Kay Robyn looks forward to more hesed opportunities. To relax, she listens to music and dances, having taken ballet as a child.

Kay Robyn’s Parting Advice

I leave you with a life tip from Kay Robyn.  “Be natural. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.  Just be you and you will succeed.”

Connect with Kay Robyn by phone (718-810-0008), email kayrobyn.ash@gmail.com or on Instagram @kaysinthekitchen.

Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach.  Her coaching specialties include life, career, and dating coaching.   Ellen works part-time as an entitlement specialist at Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services. She can be contacted at ellen@lifecoachellen.com (www.lifecoachellen.com).