Chabad Kosher Hot Spot — Goodness, Kindness & Food

Thursday, September 14, 2017

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Thursday Food constantly scours the culinary landscape for what's new, different and intriguing. Well, we spotted a little nugget in the making on Montego Bay's Hip Strip (Gloucester Ave); a sign advertised that kosher food would soon be available at that spot. We returned five weeks later to find Chabad Kosher Hot Spot up and running.

For those asking, 'What's kosher?' Kosher foods are those that conform to the regulations of Kashrut (Jewish dietary law). Food that may be consumed according to Halakha (Jewish law) is termed kosher, meaning “fit” (in this context, fit for consumption).

Indeed, who better to show us around than Rabbi Yaakov Raskin — incidentally, the only rabbi in Jamaica — and to shed further insight on the concept and the food offerings.

“This is the first Jewish restaurant in Jamaica, though I prefer to call it a hot spot as opposed to a restaurant, a place where the Jewish community can easily get kosher food hot and warm and, of course, for others wanting to get that food experience. So this is a big day for us, this hot spot is historic for us,” Raskin explained.

“We are looking to get the jerk falafel into the Jamaican culture. It's just unbelievable and it has a nice crunch to it. We also do amazing home-made fries, they are never frozen, and we add basil and parsley for added taste,” Raskin continued.

“Our fruits and vegetables are grown right here in Jamaica in order to support local farmers. We decided to go vegetarian because of the size of the area. In order to maintain a kosher kitchen we would have to choose between meat and dairy, so we decided to go neutral,” Raskin explained.

The catering arm of the business supplies kosher meats such as kosher jerk chicken, roasted barbecue chicken, pasta, steak and lasagna and provides food for birthdays, anniversaries, Bar/Bat Mitzvah and weddings. Kosher meats are imported, but Raskin explained that there are plans already in place to start producing the supplies locally.

“We also do salads, blended juices like the mango tango, papaya and the pink lady. We also have our home-made delicacies, muffins, cookies and hollow bread. The feedback has been positive so far, people are happy that they have a new vegetarian option,” Raskin stated.

The eatery will act as a fund-raising instrument as well, to help provide funds to Jewish charities assisting children all across Jamaica, and to aid in the building of the synagogue of Montego Bay.

“To sum it up, this is a place of acts of goodness and kindness, and you can get some food,” a smiling Raskin concluded.

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