April 20, 2009

Worrisome Trend of More ÒKosher StyleÓ Passover Menus

New York…Offering a Passover menu to patrons is good business, even if the food is just “kosher style” and not certified kosher. For years, Balducci’s has been offering the traditional Passover foods with the caveat that the food is not kosher. In fact, Balducci’s courts its kosher style patrons during the High Holy Days as well. The practice has drawn criticism from certification agencies and rabbis out of fear that unsuspecting customers will think that the food is authentically kosher. The New York Post reported that “chefs at three of the city's best Mexican restaurants—Toloache, Dos Caminos and Rosa Mexicano” were offering Passover menus. The Post quoted Meghan Young, chef at Dos Caminos Soho, as saying that a chili-infused Passover menu was a no-brainer. "We do special menus on holidays like Christmas, so why not add Passover?" she says. "There's a large community of Orthodox Jews in Mexico City and Guadalajara, and New York has a large Jewish population too, so it makes sense. Despite the [ingredient] limitations, this is a holiday where a lot of eating goes on." Continued the Post: “Over at Toloache in the Theater District, chef Julian Medina rolls tortillas from matzo "masa," not only as a nod to the expansive Jewish population in his birthplace of Mexico City, but to honor his conversion to Judaism after marrying his wife, Annie. Like any mensch, soon after the wedding, he got into the kitchen and learned a thing or two about traditional Jewish cooking. "I always help my mother-in-law with the cooking, and I thought it would be nice to celebrate the holiday at the restaurant, too," says Medina. Many other restaurants throughout the country also offered the kosher style Passover foods on their Web sites.