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Pesach - Tarrytown Doubletree Hilton

A few weeks ago I posted a question asking if anyone had been to this program last year hosted by Sovah Caterers. I received no responses and got a little suspicious. My in-laws thought this would be a good place to go for Pesach since it was within the Metro area and was "reasonably" priced. My wife and I did our due diligence with the caterer and were told that the Mashgichim for this program were trained and approved by the OU since the kitchen at the hotel was an "OU kitchen." We all decided to go even though I felt we were taking a chance since we really new nothing about the caterer. The Kashrus did not seem to be an issue based on what we were told.
In the end, the whole thing was a disaster. The food was awful for the most part. The "tea room" did not exist. The service was terrible compounded by the fact that the caterer was in way over their heads and had an attitude. Unfortunately, there were also a number of obvious kashrus issues, which when brought to the attention of the mashgichim, were ignored. (I found a bottle of Heinz hetchup out in the open in the dining room; no comment from the mashgiach how that happend). I called the OU this week and found out they had never trained any of the mashgichim for this program. I even spoke to the OU Rabbi who (according to the caterer) supposedly trained the Mashgichim and he told that this was totally untrue.
Here's the kicker--the caterer has everyone pay their bills in CASH, so there's absolutely no recourse. Bottom line - If anyone out there even thinks about going to anything where Sovah Caterers is providng the food, don't just walk way; run as fast as you can!

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  1. I have yet to hear any positive experience about a program that requires cash payments. If the organizer insists on cash that should be enough of an indication right there that something sketchy is going on and you should run away.

    2 Replies
      1. re: avitrek

        My family paid cash up front years ago for a pesach program only to have it cancelled on erev pesach! In the end we got pennies on the dollar. Never again, only charge cards!

      2. When visiting family in the area we have pricelined and stayed at the Tarrytown Doubletree and always enjoyed our stay. But never for Pesach.

        1. I am not totally convinced that the ketchup bottle which is the subject of complaint was unkosher for Pesach, and the silence of the mashgiach may have been a diplomatic silence and not an admission.

          Canadian Heinz ketchup uses cane sugar and not corn syrup. See http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/s...

          Although this year American Heinz ketchup contained corn syrup, a few years ago, one of the 57 Heinz varieties (or sub-varieties) was a kosher for Pesach ketchup.
          See http://askrabbimaroof.blogspot.com/20...

          2 Replies
          1. re: uslander

            FYI, the program at the Hilton was a non-kitniyot program, so the ketchup (which contains corn syrup) was not KFP. Your link is to a Sephardic Rabbi's blog; Sephardim eat certain kitniyot on Pesach.

            1. re: molder

              Gefen makes a terrific Pesach ketchup, and I see no reason to intentionally use an uncertified KFP condiment in a non-kitniyot environ.

              Be advised that the authoritative website www.kashrut.org has a forum which discusses the Heinz ketchup issue from an Ashkenazic perspective. It's rulings which might assuage your obvious discomfort. The son(s) of Rabbi Yitzchak Abadi assert(s) that Heinz Ketchup, even with high fructose corn syrup and vinegar, is permissible for Ashkenazim on Pesach.

              The reasoning is that "corn was not around in the time that the minhag [custom] of kitniyot was created and therefore is not considered kitniyot. In addition once it's an oil or syrup and not a flour it's ok as well." As to the vinegar ingredient in Heinz ketchup, it has been determined to be gluten-free in the past.

              I am merely trying to mitigate the circumstances after the fact with what was a single bottle of ketchup (according to the details you presented) from an unknown etiology, and to salvage reputations even if I do not know the people involved.

          2. Please explain why the Tarrytown Doubletree Hilton is being taken to task for this event. Are they not simply offering a venue? How are they held responsible? Why should their name be schmeared?

            9 Replies
            1. re: Bellachefa

              i do not read blame against the hotel just the caterer

              1. re: koshergourmetmart

                That is correct. The hotel is actually quite nice; my complaints are strictly related to the caterer.

                1. re: molder

                  I just think that by shouting out the venue in your title is highlighting the least common denominator of your issues. Perhaps highlighting the host organizers or the hosting caterer would be more fair and then in subtext mention the venue.

                  1. re: Bellachefa

                    Good point, maybe you should reference this in the 'Posters who Police' thread :)

                    1. re: Bellachefa

                      You can't judge a book by its cover. One doing research is going to read the entire thing, not make a judgment off a 4 word post subject.

                      Further, again, most people identify Pesach programs by the location in which the program was hosted. Honestly, when I think of PGA, Rye Town, Biltmore, etc. I don't even remember who runs the programs there anymore. That may do my previous comments an injustice, but then again, it's explained later in the post ;)

                2. re: Bellachefa

                  Most people identify Pesach programs by the location of the program. Tarrytown Doubletree Hilton hosted it, but someone doing due diligence would read the post, see the name Sovah Caterers, and get the full picture.

                  If, in the future, Tarrytown Doubletree Hilton chooses to work with another caterer, that's their prerogative and I'm sure someone doing his/her research will know that this criticism was limited specifically to Sovah @ Tarrytown and nothing else.

                  It would be a complete disservice to the community if the original poster just identified the caterer but not the location in which the caterer operated.

                  1. re: Bellachefa

                    Thank you for your positive comments regarding DoubleTree by Hilton Tarrytown. Yes, you are correct, when doing a Pesach program, we rent the space to the kosher caterer who then hires his own staff, prepares his own food and puts together his own program.

                    Linda Ferone
                    Director of Sales
                    DoubleTree by Hilton Tarrytown

                    1. re: Lferone

                      I'm glad you were somehow alerted about this thread and had the opportunity to comment.