Catering to the Jewish palate

Catering to the Jewish palate

Temple Emanuel hosts tasting

Flowers lined the main sanctuary and a large chuppah stood in front of the pews, waiting for a bride to circle her groom beneath it. The smells of hot hors d’oeuvres wafted through the halls.

"What can I get you to drink?" asked the bartender set up on the side of the banquet hall. He offered a selection of sodas and wines to the noshers and schmoozers.

But there was no wedding scheduled for Nov. 19 at Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley in Woodcliff Lake. Instead, the shul’s catering committee was showing off what it could do in its third catering open house, held once every two years. Kosher caterers, floral designers, photographers, and vendors of religious objects had set up displays through the hall.

More than 100 people stopped by to see what options are available for their simchas, said Nancy Resman, catering coordinator for Temple Emanuel. From weddings to b’nai mitzvah to aufrufs, Emanuel hosts more than 100 events each year, using only the four caterers who had been invited to the open house. Invitations had been mailed to the synagogue’s members, but the event was open to all community members planning a Jewish celebration.

Ira Jay Shulman of Foremost Glatt Caterers, Nancy Resman, catering coordinator of Temple Emanuel, and Enid Ruzinsky, chair of the catering committee, were ready for the synagogue’s third catering open house Nov. 19.

Lauren, Robert, and Earl Rosenblatt taste the sushi, which Earl said he definitely wants served at his bar mitzah. Photos by Josh Lipowsky

As people wandered the hall past tables with different party themes, they sampled the goods from Classic Caterers/Mark Aaron Glatt Kosher, Foremost/Ram Caterers, Kosher Productions/Chai Cuisine, and Short Hills Caterers. All kept the potential clients feasting on boats of colorful sushi, slices of hot corned beef, veal marsala, potato pierogies, and an assortment of fruits to be dipped into bubbling chocolate fondue.

While the event was geared toward all lifecycle simchas, b’nai mitzvah tasters were predominant. Among them were Robert and Diane Rosenblatt of Woodcliff Lake, who will be celebrating the bar mitzvah of their son Earl in six months and needed some ideas.

"That’s why we’re here, to let him pick his own food," Robert Rosenblatt said. Earl’s favorite so far? "He told me already he wants the sushi," Rosenblatt said.

Arnold Feldman of Chai Cuisine said his business does a couple of open houses like this per year. Since this event is geared to shul members, it’s almost a captive audience because of all the lifecycle events, he said.

"My son’s gone from nursery school to bar mitzvah at the temple," said Randy Miller, as she tasted the fondue. Her 11-year-old son Grant will mark his bar mitzvah in just more than a year and his mother was happy about the opportunity to gain "words of wisdom from the more experienced," she said. "It’s a terrific opportunity to taste the cuisine," she added.

Food wasn’t the only display. A New York Yankee-themed table caught the eye of 11-year-old Alec Mais of Teaneck. He came with his parents, Chaim and Rina, who are preparing for his bar mitzvah.

For Rina Mais, what stuck out the most was "how pretty the hall is and how creative the displays are," which was enough to bring the family from Teaneck to consider Woodcliff Lake for their simcha.

On Monday, Resman said, she felt like she got the message out about how important she and her committee think it is for Jewish lifecycle events to take place in the synagogue. She heard from several people who planned to book their events there and others who had already booked and had their decision reinforced by the showcase.

"We had fabulous offerings of food from four terrific caterers," she said. "It was a really happening thing."

read more: