The UAE left no stone unturned as it hosted 50-plus Jewish delegates who landed in Abu Dhabi on Monday as part of a US-Israeli delegation. The country’s special guests got to taste the famed Emirati hospitality as they stayed at the St Regis Hotel.
Rabbi Yissachar Krakowski, Director of US-based OU Kosher – the world’s largest kosher certification agency – was flown down to Abu Dhabi to ensure the food served to the Jewish guests complies with the strict dietary standards of traditional Jewish law.
In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, Rabbi Krakowski said his job is to make sure that everything in the kitchen, including the food and equipment, meet kosher requirements.
“All the equipment, including oven, stove, sink and cutleries, plates and dishes are brand new or never used. If it is not new, then they have to go through an intense cleaning process where we not only thoroughly clean them but also sterilise with hot water or live fire,” said Rabbi Krakowski. He oversees over 200 companies for kosher specifications.
The rabbi also ensures that all the ingredients and vegetables used for preparing the food are secured from kosher sources. “We have partnered with a local kosher caterer, Elli’s Kosher Kitchen, to ensure that all the food served meets kosher requirements. When we use vegetables – especially the leafy ones – we ensure that they are thoroughly cleaned for microscopic insects. There is high quality control, wherein they are put under a light box to check for bugs.”
According to him, halal food that is prescribed for Muslims and Kosher are similar in many ways as the meat is ritually slaughtered. “One main difference is that we do not drink camel milk,” said the Rabbi.
With the normalisation of relations between the UAE and Israel, Rabbi Krakowski said food from both countries will bridge the cultural gap. “There are many similarities between Jewish and Arabic food. By bringing both to the table, and letting people break bread together, we will be bringing two cultures together.”
For the special menu for the Abu Dhabi delegates, the rabbi said they are sticking to non-meat and non-dairy foods that include grilled seabass with truffle sauce, cheddar cheese salad, Kunafa and chocolate fondue, among other items.