June 3, 2013

Lou G. Segal Takes ÒOff PremisesÓ Catering to a Whole New Level

Biloxi, Miss… While most New York caterers would consider it a “mission impossible,” Abe Weiss of Lou G. Siegel’s took it as a challenge. The mission: to cater an elegant glatt kosher dinner at one of America’s premier hotels, the Beau Rivage, nearly 1300 miles from his commissary. Mr. Weiss pulled it off in exemplary fashion with the non-Jewish guests not even having a clue that the meal was not catered by the 5 Star hotel. The occasion was a conference organized by GeriCare, a Brooklyn based pharmaceutical company with a manufacturing plant in nearby Gulfport. Mr. Weiss flew his chef and many of the raw ingredients from New York. He added some fresh and kosher ingredients from local markets. “After all, where can you go today and not find kosher certified foods.” Much of it he found in the local Wal-Mart. He also teamed up with Rabbi Yossie Nemes, who heads the Chabad of Louisiana, and was a lightning rod in post Katrina New Orleans. Some of the food for other than the dinner came from Kosher Cajun in New Orleans and Rabbi Nemes dispatched Rabbi Mendel Schechter, one of his kosher supervisors, to supervise the kashrus at the Beau Rivage. Rabbi Schechter koshered one of the hotel’s kitchens. The hotel itself contributed a brand new set of dishes as well as flatware.  Mr. Weiss related that Lou G. Siegel has already pulled off similar “missions” in places like Orlando and is today a multi-faceted caterer that has the flexibility to cater small office parties to weddings and, of course, elegant dinners in Biloxi, Miss. For many, the revival of Lou G. Siegel is consolation for a brand that had long dominated the New York scene. In fact, at one time Lou G. Siegel was a primary caterer of kosher airline meals. Its restaurant on West 38th was for decades considered the meeting place of the powerful in the city. When it closed its doors in 1996, it was eulogized as if there was a loss in the family. Lou G. Siegel's is named after the dapper Romanian immigrant who founded it in 1917, and was particularly known for its Jewish dishes of Romania, Hungary, Poland and Russia. There was a time when the restaurant did not have kosher certification, but when the trend turned towards more Glatt Kosher in New York City, Lou G. Siegel obtained the certification of the Orthodox Union. Now the reborn Lou G. Siegel’s is betting on taking the New York icon national.