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Mar 17, 2011 07:57 AM

ISO kosher caterer for BBQ in Virginia

Given the chance to put together our wedding as we really want it, my fiance and I are attempting to plan a weekend in a national park culminating in a picnic/BBQ reception. Our biggest hurdle is that we have our hearts set on a location that seems to be near exactly no kosher caterers who can do what we'd like - does anyone know of a catering company in the VA/Washington DC area (or even a bit further afield!) that caters decent BBQ?

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  1. Are you talking about grilling or smoking? For grilling, try to find nonkosher caterers who will accept working under supervision of a rabbi. A grill isn't too hard to kasher because libun gamor, the method of kashering the grill, doesn't require perfect cleaning first. For smoking, try to find a BBQ caterer who doesn't mind his smoker kashered by libun gamor (heating until red hot). I bought my commercial smoker used and nonkosher, and kashered once for everyday use and once for Pesach, and I don't think it will withstand another kashering. Smokers, especially rotisserie smokers, are often not as robust as grills, because they see a much lower heat in the cooking area. In any case, I'm sure you can find a BBQ caterer who would allow libun gamor at least once.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ganeden

      Chowhound requests that I take this moment to mention that I am a chef/bbq enthusiast and business owner-kosher catering before making my comments.....with that noted, those of us who take real pride in our equipment and treat our smokers like our own children would also dread the idea of losing years of patina to the koshering process. It took a solid year of weekly, heavy, smoking (roughly 150-250lbs at a time) before I was really happy with my commercial smoker's seasoning. It'd be cheaper to purchase or even build a smoker then have to have someone properly kasher (and maybe destroy) another one. Check out pictures these pictures spanning a single year's smoking, note the color of the walls (the patina), like having a well seasoned wok, seasoning you smoker can make all the difference in the world.

      1. re: gotcholent

        I have s Southern Pride smoker capable of 600 lbs of meat at once time. The professional units like this are built pretty robust, and it took 2 kasherings no problem. However, the less robust personal units are probably incapable of libun gamor- welds will crack, the frame will warp. For the racks, they will lose some or all of their season. What I was proposing was looking for someone with a large commercial unit, and kashering it once. It will surely stand up to it. Ole Hickory or Southern Pride or Oyler or Holstein are all robust commercial units capable of withstanding one kashering. But you are correct, if dealing with iron or uncoated steel grates, and home-type units made from anything thinner than heavy plate, it is probably not worth kashering.

        1. re: ganeden

          My only southern pride comes from 18yrs born and raised in Texas:) We built the unit pictured above by converting a commercial proofer, it was already stainless steel and insulated, with racks. Maybe not the most traditional set-up in the world, but very portable and the side car allows for a nice indirect heat and smoking pathway. My current build-out is being designed for a 16ft boat trailer which we are marrying to a 330 gallon cast iron boiler tank. She's gonna be a beaut, I hope to have it ready, tested and seasoned for a string of BBQ competition this summer.
          Is your smoker mobile or built into your restaurant?

          1. re: gotcholent

            My smoker is on wheels but not mobile. I closed the restaurant last August. I'll probably mount the smoker to my trailer eventually, but now it's in my backyard. I'm making wine professionally again, so there is no hurry to get the smoker mounted. I can make a few pounds for my friends where it's sitting. Fact is I haven't fired the thing up since last August.

    2. Try asking Rabbi Deitsch @ Chabad NOVA (703) 426-1980

      I am sure he can help!

      1. Try Executive kosher...they travel all over north amercia.

        1. Thanks to all so far! We'll update with what we find out in case anyone else finds themselves in this kind of odd situation . . .

          5 Replies
          1. re: bandr

            My fiancé and I are hoping to plan something similar -- a casual bbq wedding in VA/DC area and we were curious if you found a great venue and caterer. Welcome your input! Thanks!

            1. re: Kosherchowhound

              We went with Shalom caterers in Silver Spring (I think they might be calling themselves Signature Catering now). They were wonderful to work with and went out of their way to accommodate whatever crazy requests we came up with (they had their chef test recipes for weeks for the zeppoli my dad had to have before telling us they just wouldn't travel well enough to be up to their standards). They also came all the way out to Luray, VA for us. Our guests who didn't keep kosher thought the food was great, and those who did thought it was phenomenal. :) They actually just catered a family shiva for us, and even years later, I can't recommend them enough.

              Our venue situation was a big unique - we used a farm near Shenandoah Natuonal Park. Happy to tell you more if you are interested. Good luck!

              1. re: bandr

                Thank you so much for your fast response! This is so helpful! We may reach out to you as we continue to start planning-- the BBQ idea is new to us and we're just beginning to explore, and it's comforting to know someone else has paved the path with the same kashrut restrictions. Thank you again!

                1. re: Kosherchowhound

                  Sure, happy to help more people with out of the box jewish weddings. You can email me directly at if you'd like.

                  1. re: Kosherchowhound

                    kosherchowhound, I can't help you with this question, but would like to talk to you about something else. Could you please email me at Thanks.

                    I wish chowhound would provide some way to send private messages, so we wouldn't have to bother the whole group on such occasions.

            2. Blue Star (kosher BBQ) catered an event at my DC shul, maybe 150 people - it was delicious.