Lawry's First Kosher Catered Dinner

In the twelve years I have been working at Lawry’s, I never imagined us catering a Lawry’s kosher dinner.  Last year we were approached by our controller who is a member of the Congregation TIKVAT JACOB. He inquired if we were interested in catering their annual gala. All of the food had to be kosher. I do not have a lot of knowledge of kosher events. All of the staff involved needed to be educated on many details!  We were not certain that we could even do this in our kitchen. 

We invited the Rabbi from the congregation to Lawry’s to see if it was at all possible to do such an event.  According to the Rabbi, “kosher” means fit or proper. Kosher food has been approved to eat because the preparations were proper according to the book of Torah (the first five books of Moses).  The dietary laws can be complex and many branches of Judaism have their own interpretation of the laws.  One of the main factors of a kosher dinner is that the Torah forbids the cooking of meat and milk together. Also certain foods cannot be eaten such as pork or shellfish. 

Once the Rabbi inspected the kitchen and educated our team, the next step was to decide if we were going to be all in on this project!  In order for this to be a successful event, we had to buy new dishware, flatware, and kitchen equipment. Luckily the event was taking place at a venue where the rabbi was able to kosher the kitchen.  We decided to do this for the experience and the exposure of our catering department in the Jewish community.  Plus, now that we have equipment, we can rent it out for future events.

There was a lot of planning and preparation.  First we had to shop for equipment prices. That was the easy part because what girl does not like to shop for the new things!  Second we had to plan the menu.  This was very critical because we were trying to do a Lawry’s signature dinner kosher-style. If you have been to Lawry’s, you soon discovered that meat, butter, and milk are our favorite ingredients and they are all on the same plate!  Our Executive Chef Walter Eckstein, Zeidy, Ellen, and I worked on the menu. We were able to purchase kosher prime rib through our meat vendor.  Chef was able to create the mashed potatoes, creamed corn, and creamed spinach with a non-dairy substitute. Obviously, we also did not use bacon in the spinach like we usually do. We used margarine instead of butter.  All of the bread was provided by a kosher bakery. We looked for appetizers that did not contain any dairy.  In the end we were able to create our menu to fit this kosher event! 
The rabbi was very involved in the planning. We met with him twice a month.  He gave us a lot of suggestions and input on the dinner. 
At last it was the day for this gala.  Sunday February 13th. The event was held in Manhattan Beach. We traveled with our new equipment and re-configured food and began the show.  Soon after guests arrived, we sent out the hors d’oeuvres, and the party flowed through the night.  Guests loved the food and the service.  I was very happy and proud of our Lawry’s team. 


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