Why is kosher catering important?
Kosher catering holds important religious significance to Jewish people. When preparing a kosher meal, caterers follow a set of extensive Biblical laws taken from the Torah that dictate how food must be prepared and served.
There are some restrictions in kosher catering when compared to other types of catering, such as the specific cuts of meat that chefs can use and how dairy products and meat are prepared together. While it may have limitations, kosher catering offers many delicious menu items, ranging from savory meat dishes prepared with top cuts of beef to sweet desserts and vegetarian-friendly options.
Kosher cuisine is also highly inclusive to suit a wide range of dietary needs, restrictions, and preferences, which makes it a great catering option for events with multiple attendees.
What makes food kosher?
Many kosher foods have the same flavors, textures, and ingredients as non-kosher foods, but the difference lies in how the foods are handled, prepared, and served.
While the entire scope of kosher dietary law is highly detailed and complex, caterers follow some basic rules when preparing kosher meals.
- Dairy and meat products are not mixed together. There are a few interpretations to this rule, with the most widely believed explanation being that milk symbolizes life and meat relates to death, and these aspects should not intertwine. The Torah also prohibits the coupling of different animal species. Some common meat and cheese combinations forbidden in kosher catering include cheeseburgers, beef sausage and cheese pizza, and chicken Parmesan.
- All animal products must come from kosher animals. According to kosher dietary law, only animals with split or cloven hooves that eat grass are considered kosher and suitable for eating. Kosher animals include cows, deer, oxen, sheep, and lambs.
- All meat comes from animals that were properly slaughtered: Kosher beef and poultry can only be slaughtered by a specially trained and qualified kosher slaughterer, referred to as a shochet. Following the slaughtering process, all internal organs are carefully inspected by a certified inspector or bodek. The bodek checks for adhesions and other abnormalities that may render the meat non-kosher. Once the meat passes inspection, all blood must be removed through a salting and broiling process.
Shellfish and birds of prey are forbidden in kosher diets, and all seafood must have scales. Kosher dietary rules allow poultry because chickens and turkeys do not eat other animals.
What are some kosher dishes?
Kosher catering offers a vast menu of beef, poultry, and seafood dishes, along with vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. Some popular and tasty kosher main dishes, desserts, and sides include:
- Noodle kugel. Noodle kugel is a traditional Jewish holiday dish consisting of baked egg noodles and sweet or savory custard. While there are many variations to noodle kugel, sweet kugels are often baked with raisins, pineapple, and other fruits, while some savory versions include spinach and seasonings.
- Brisket. Brisket is a popular Passover dish that's slow cooked with vegetables, brown sugar, and seasonings. Brisket is a primal beef cut taken from the cow's pectoral area, and it takes up to 12 hours to cook and 20 hours to fully prepare.
- Challah. Challah is a traditional Jewish bread with a slightly sweet crust and soft center. People enjoy challah with matzo ball soup, meat dishes, and breakfast foods, and on its own with jam and butter.
- Rugelach. Served on holidays to welcome a sweet new year, rugelach is a traditional Jewish dessert that originated in Poland. This delicious treat consists of baked crescent-rolled pastries with sweet fillings that include jams, chocolate, raisins, walnuts, and more!
Can drinks be kosher?
Kosher wine has deep religious significance that still holds true today. In Biblical times, wine symbolized both sacrificial offerings in the Temple of Jerusalem and freedom of the people from slavery. To be considered kosher, wine must be produced under the supervision of a Jewish rabbi.
Some drinks that are naturally kosher include fruit juices, sparkling and flat water, and spirits made with grain and sugar. Sodas, powdered drink mixes, and beverages containing dairy can be both kosher and non-kosher, depending on their ingredients. For people following kosher diets, it's important to make sure their chosen beverages are kosher-approved before consuming.
Why do some traditional kosher kitchens keep several sets of dishes?
Keeping sets of dishes separate from one another in a traditional kosher kitchen helps prevent contact between meat and dairy products. In addition to dishes, kosher kitchens also keep several sets of utensils, frying pans, and scouring sponges to use separately with meat and dairy. In the event of accidental cross-contamination, kosher chefs and kitchen staff can purge the dishes with high heat.