May 9, 2016

25,000 Kosher Meals, 40 Staff Members, 15 Mashgichim, and 7 Chefs Feed 600 Guests at Rosen Plaza Hotel for Passover

Orlando FL - The numbers alone do not tell the whole story for just one of the 150 Passover programs worldwide that catered to more than 100,000 Jews during the just concluded Passover holiday, but they partially explain how the food component alone has turned into what is estimated as a $125-$150 million industry. For Chef Michael McMullen and Chef Jorge George Oliveira, the planning began many months ago but says Chef Michael, “it turned out a lot better than I expected,” largely because of the huge cooperation of Avi and Schneur Faskowitz of Majestic Retreats who organized the program and the hashgacha team of the Orthodox Union and the Rabbinate of Central & North Florida (RCF), under Rabbi Mendel Goldstein. Harris Rosen, the owner of the Rosen Plaza Hotel and six other hotels in the area bearing his name, left nothing to chance. He invested nearly $2 million in the kosher kitchen for the holiday, part of a $5 million kosher operation that goes by the name Zayde’s Kosher Catering and made sure that Chef George would come over from Hotel Rosen Shingle Creek to assist in the mammoth task. The new kosher kitchen includes completely separate meat and dairy kitchens, a pareve area, an impressive vegetable checking and cleaning area, and numerous segregated preparation areas. The Rosen kosher kitchen can easily rank amongst the largest and best supervised kosher kitchen in the world. The food by the celebrated chefs was nothing less than high end, making it hard to imagine that all of the food is prepared according to the highest standards for Passover. For Rabbi Goldstein, who has many years of experience in managing kosher programs in many parts of the world, including Spain, the “cooperation” of the Rosen staff went well beyond the call of duty. “They took every precaution so that there is not even a perception of not being 100% compliant.” Rosen’s investment into kosher comes with the hope that Zayde’s will emerge as one of the nation’s premier catering facilities, certainly in Central Florida with its huge potential for visitors and convention participants at the nearby Orange County Convention Center, which connects to the hotel with a bridge. Schneur Faskowitz, who managed the Majestic program at Rosen, was also extremely complimentary about the Rosen staff. “They went out of their way to accommodate every nuance that we needed for a superb kosher experience,” he said. Brother Avi managed Majestic’s other program in Ft. Lauderdale during the holiday. Rabbi Goldstein explained that the koshering operation at the hotel was in itself a huge undertaking but that hotel staff had made it seamless. Chef George and Chef Michael were already discussing what they would do to enhance the program next year, although for them, there will be plenty of kosher business during the year.