Awedding ceremony on an oversized patio filled with lush gardens and a waterfall, all overlooking the water. Sound appealing? Can you have all that and a kosher menu, too.
At a time when many non-Orthodox weddings are held at non-kosher venues, a survey of several catering halls on Long Island found that a surprising number of them are amenable to permitting outside kosher caterers to come in, kasher (make kosher) their kitchen and prepare all of the food.
One catering facility, The Historical Thatched Cottage on Centerport Harbor on the Island’s North Shore, goes one step further. It has its own kosher chef, Robert Roth, and a contract with Triangle K, the kosher supervisory organization, which kashers its kitchen and provides a mashgiach for the event.
Toniann Dillon, the facility’s general manager, stressed that its kosher menu is the same as its non-kosher menu except that all necessary changes have been made to ensure the food is glatt kosher.
“We do an international cocktail hour that includes kosher sushi, a wok station, crepes, pasta, a Greek station and a mashed potato station,” she said. “We have excellent food that is prepared from scratch on the premises.”
And because the Thatched Cottage has two kitchens, a kosher affair can be held immediately before or after a non-kosher affair.
“Unlike large catering halls that do multiple weddings at the same time, we have only one event at a time,” Dillon pointed out, adding that she has 10 to 15 kosher events a year.
“People come here who are looking to do a kosher party that is outside of the norm,” she added.
Other catering halls that work with outside kosher caterers each do things a little differently.
The Crescent Beach Club in Bayville, which bills itself as the “only venue on the North Shore offering a complete beach wedding experience,” works with two outside kosher caterers, according to Bill Meis, its general manager.
The half-dozen kosher events a year it does are “predominantly in the winter or in midweek,” he said. “In the summer, we use our facilities for [our own] afternoon and evening events. We don’t give our business away to someone else for the 20 prime Saturday nights of the year.”
Meis pointed out also that because he has only one kitchen, when he has a kosher affair “we can only do one event for the whole day” because of all the advance preparation required.
On the other hand, the Garden City Hotel has three kitchens to work with and will thus permit an outside kosher caterer to kasher one of them on Friday, allowing a kosher affair to be held on a Saturday night, according to Paul De la Vega, the facility’s catering sales manager.
Couples who wish to book the hotel for weddings are given a list of kosher caterers the hotel has worked with in the past (although de la Vega said customers are welcome to select any kosher caterer they wish). Couples then interview the kosher caterers, select one and sign a contract with the hotel.
“The hotel contracts with the caterer and the couple pays one bill to the hotel,” he said. “So the caterer works for the hotel and the hotel and caterer work for the client.”
De la Vega said the Garden City Hotel does about a dozen kosher affairs each year.
The Venetian Yacht Club on the Great South Bay in Babylon is the venue for about 20 kosher affairs a year, according to Giullio Cavalli, its catering sales manager.
“We recommend a kosher caterer, although [couples] can choose their own,” he said. “We work Sunday through Thursday with our kosher clients.”
There are no Saturday night kosher affairs because there is not enough time after the Sabbath to kasher the kitchen and get the food ready, Cavalli said.
Couples pay the kosher caterer directly for both the food and the mashgiach; they pay the Venetian Yacht Club for the rental of its facilities and its services.
“Our location is spectacular,” Cavalli said. “No one else has all open water and views of the South Shore bridges and beaches.”
Outdoor weddings at the yacht club are on its patio; there is no beach.
Gurney’s Inn, 120 miles from the city at the tip of Long Island in Montauk, works with three or four kosher caterers but permits all others as well, according to Phyllis Lomitola, the inn’s conference and banquet sales director.
“You would rent Gurney’s for whatever wedding package you want and we take off the food portion of the bill,” she said. “You pay the caterer directly for the food. We then work with the caterer to see if he needs to use a portion of our kitchen or plans to work from his truck.”
Lomitola said the caterer would also be in charge of arranging for outside kosher supervision. She noted that Gurney’s does only about three kosher affairs a year.
“People come from the tri-state area and we become a destination wedding site,” she said, noting that Gurney’s catering hall is part of its 125-room hotel, resort and spa complex on the Atlantic Ocean.
Another caterer, Chateau Briand in Carle Place, refers its kosher clients to two outside kosher caterers from which to select.
“We have the bride come in, give her a tour of the hall and then refer her to the caterers,” said William Areskog, a banquet manager. “The couple then goes [to them] and reviews their menus and prices. The price they give has our fee built into it.”
He added that his facility does about 20 to 25 kosher events a year, “which is slightly up in the last few years.”