Celebrating Passover is a beloved tradition, bringing alive Jewish heritage and history. But hosting a seder “can be a headache,” says Alejandro Muguerza, CEO of LeBasque Catering. Your basic seder involves numerous courses (seder means order in Hebrew). His advice? Start prepping now.
Catholic Basque Muguerza knows his matzo ball soup from Manischewitz. In addition to feeding President Barack Obama, the Dalai Lama and Andrea Bocelli, “We’ve done seders for lots of clients.” They’re primed to do even more, having recently earned glatt kosher certification to meet client demand.
Delis and markets including Pinecrest’s Roasters’n Toasters and Joanna’s Marketplace cater Passover meals from brisket to macaroons but aren’t kosher. Kosher for Passover catering in South Florida has largely been the province of Aroma in Cooper City and Aventura’s Kosher Kingdom. For a reason. Products with wheat flour and anything with leavening — yeast, baking powder, baking soda — are out for Passover. That means no traditional cakes, cookies, bread or baked goods. Also out — most grains, seeds, beans, corn and corn syrup, a hidden ingredient in many foods.
All kosher food production must have rabbinical oversight. “There’s restrictions regarding food and implements, glassware, china, silver, and transportation,” Muguerza says. Then there are special Passover rules, separate ingredients and Passover-use only equipment. Local commercial kosher baking facilities including Zak the Baker, Rolling Pin and the bakery at Kosher Kingdom close for the holiday rather than convert to dedicated kosher for Passover production. Finally, “Kosher is always more expensive,” Muguerza says.
He and LeBasque executive chef Mike Veloz consulted with a kosher caterer to develop new kosher recipes like “airy, more light” gefilte fish and a fig and ice cream dessert that’s a far cry from your bubbe’s heartfelt (but heavy) Passover matzo-meal torte.
Want to cater your seder? Next year in Jerusalem, maybe. Deadlines for all Passover catering orders have passed, so get cooking. Keep it simple and traditional. “It’s the best way of doing things, the most effective, always.” Kosher certification took “a steep learning curve,” Muguerza admits, “but I found it fascinating — the history and tradition. It invokes the kind of spirit I embrace and like.”