December 20, 2010

Kosher at the White House

 Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel recently met with President Barrack Obama at the White House “over a kosher lunch,” the headlines read. The fact that White House chefs have the phone numbers of area kosher caterers is no longer news. Kosher fare has been served in the White House for decades. First Lady Laura Bush personally supervised the koshering of the kitchen in advance of the annual Chanukah party during her husband’s administration. Whenever kosher is called for, the White House kitchen staff is able to accommodate, whether in a Republican or Democratic administration.

Kosher at the White House is also symbolic of just how far kosher has come. Kosher food is routinely served in corporate boardrooms, sporting events, hotels, hospitals, and even airports. Almost every major hotel in a key US city has a designated kosher kitchen. Nearly half of products on supermarket shelves have some form of kosher designation. Kosher ingredients and products are produced in nearly 100 countries. Kosher is part of the curriculum at major culinary schools and most leading chefs have experience with kosher.

The national recognition for kosher presents many opportunities to the industry. With the right product and packaging, there’s no telling just how far a kosher product can go, even to the White House. During a visit to the White House many years ago, I recall stopping at the cafeteria in the basement, only to find Hagen Daas and a host of other kosher certified products.