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Bronx, NY - Celebrity Israeli Chef Prepares Cholent for VIP's at Yankee Stadium

Published on: October 1, 2009 09:27 PM
By:  Haaretz
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Bronx, NY - Visitors to the new Yankee Stadium craving falafel, shawarma or matbuha (red pepper and tomato salad) should seek out the services of chef Ouri Nidam.
Nidam runs the kosher food concession stand at the home of the legendary baseball team, which is seeking to win its first World Series since 2000.

At the state-of-the-art stadium, which opened four months ago following a $1.5 billion investment, Nidam also serves skewered meats, hummus, Moroccan cigars, and even cholent (on Thursdays, not on Saturdays, as his restaurant is glatt kosher).
“At the stadium, I serve foods of all the ethnic groups, gourmet,” he says.

Nidam’s customers at the stadium come mainly from the VIP crowd. “They purchase tickets for $1,000-2,500 per game and receive this food for free,” says Nidam. “At that price, why not?” To the general public he also serves more American food, such as hot dogs and chicken nuggets.

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The lion’s share of his customers, he says, are not even Jewish. “They prefer kosher food because it’s considered cleaner and more carefully handled. Most of the restaurants in the VIP section serve regular food. Pasta and pizzas and hamburgers. I serve unusual foods here.”

The Yankee Stadium restaurant is only one element of Nidam’s businesses; his New York catering company also supplies food for events hosted by well-to-do Jews. One of his clients, for example, is Yitzhak Tshuva.

Nidam is used to being around celebrities, but of a different kind. In the early 1990s he worked as the Israeli Knesset chef for two years, feeding Yitzhak Rabin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Olmert and many others. He also cooked for events hosted by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Nidam, 40, has traveled a winding road from the Knesset to Yankee Stadium. He was born and raised in Jerusalem and eventually started working for his brother’s catering business. When he was 20, he prepared food for the wedding of the Baba Sali’s grandson.

“Chefs from the King David and the Hilton were supposed to come,” he recalls, “but for whatever reason they were late. My brother said ‘start cooking,’ and I worked like a madman. At 11 P.M., at the end of the wedding, people wanted to know who prepared the food. It was a big success.

“After the army I heard that the Knesset needed a chef,” he continues. “I was a 22-year-old kid. I went and cooked there from the heart, the way my mother cooks. For example, I made kubbeh the way my mother makes it at home. There are many Kurds in the Knesset, and they all love it. The truth is, Ashkenazim also learned to eat this food.

I started preparing food for events at the home of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. I prepared madias and tongue with mustard. At the rabbi’s house I met Edmund Safra and Jack Avital [a businessman and prominent member of the Israeli community in New York].”

Nidam arrived in New York in 2000. “I came here on a trip,” he recalls. “A friend of mine took me to a wedding of Syrian Jews. It was a million-dollar wedding. And it sparked an ambition inside of me. I decided to stay. I worked for a guy who had a small sandwich bar.

After eight months, he introduced me to the manager of the She’arei Zion banquet hall, a large events space in Brooklyn where many people held events, and I started working there.”

Nidam came to the Yankees via Ikey Franco, a minor partner in the group. They met at Avital’s home, when Nidam was preparing a Shabbat meal attended by Sharon on his last visit to New York City. Eventually, when the new Yankee Stadium was nearing completion, Franco suggested he apply for the job.

“I didn’t know what the Yankees were,” says Nidam, “I said I wanted to think about it. He laughed and said, ‘What do you mean? Is this something you need to think about? Do you understand what I’m offering you here?’ It took me some time until I finally understood that this is the number one team in the world.

“I went to an interview with the directors of Legends, a Texas hospitality company that runs the food concessions at the stadium,” he continues. “I called my mother, with whom I consult all the time. I was nervous, also because of my English. She said, ‘What do you have to be afraid of? If in the heavens they want you to get this job, then you’ll get it. And if not, then you won’t.’

At her suggestion, I went alone. The truth is that during the meeting, my English made them laugh. I explained to them that I don’t bring in frozen food. Everything is fresh. I don’t think they understood half of my English. But in the end I got the franchise.”

Nidam rubs shoulders with famous people as a matter of course. “A few weeks ago I got onto the elevator,” he says. “The truth is, I’m not very well versed in baseball and the players. And here I am in the elevator and there are two guys in it and I’m trying to have a polite conversation with them. ‘Are you enjoying the game’, I asked. And they started to laugh. When they got out, the security man asked me, ‘Don’t you know who they are?’ I said no. ‘That was Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, two of the Yankees’ biggest stars,’ he said.” “They probably thought I was kidding around with them. But then they realized that I was for real.”


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Read Comments (34)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Oct 01, 2009 at 09:40 PM Anonymous Says:

will they serve the chulent in a sukkah on succos?

2

 Oct 01, 2009 at 09:33 PM Anonymous Says:

The article does not say whether or not his operations at yankee stadium rely upon chassideshe hashgacha. Without this high level of hashgacha, no ehrleche yidden should even consider eating this food, no matter how much yichus he claims to have.

3

 Oct 01, 2009 at 09:52 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

The article does not say whether or not his operations at yankee stadium rely upon chassideshe hashgacha. Without this high level of hashgacha, no ehrleche yidden should even consider eating this food, no matter how much yichus he claims to have.

It's under OK supervision.

4

 Oct 01, 2009 at 09:51 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

The article does not say whether or not his operations at yankee stadium rely upon chassideshe hashgacha. Without this high level of hashgacha, no ehrleche yidden should even consider eating this food, no matter how much yichus he claims to have.

He is under the OK. All meats are Chassidishe Shechita, all breads are Pas Yisroel and there are 6 Mashgichim temidim on premises.

6

 Oct 01, 2009 at 10:58 PM Anonymous Says:

I saw tickets on stubhub for Legends section 15b for only $259 for one game earlier in the season. Sometimes you have these games that these people just don't want to go to so they sell them for whatever they could get. Did that include the free food? Anyone?

7

 Oct 01, 2009 at 10:56 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

The article does not say whether or not his operations at yankee stadium rely upon chassideshe hashgacha. Without this high level of hashgacha, no ehrleche yidden should even consider eating this food, no matter how much yichus he claims to have.

Before you post a comment that can financially hurt someone, please please check the facts. Don't speak so hastily, if you don't like the hechser, no one is forcing you to eat there. Just think before you speak things that can hurt another yid, please

8

 Oct 01, 2009 at 10:35 PM Ojoe Says:

"chassideshe hashgacha. Without this high level of hashgacha, no ehrleche yidden should even consider eating this food, no matter how much yichus he claims to have."

Chas Vesholom that anyone would eat from anything other than chasidishe hashgocho. Those litvaks, misnagdim, sefardim, galitzyazners, yekkishers, taymanim, etc... are obviously all totally worthless.

Pathetic. Feh.

9

 Oct 01, 2009 at 10:15 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

The article does not say whether or not his operations at yankee stadium rely upon chassideshe hashgacha. Without this high level of hashgacha, no ehrleche yidden should even consider eating this food, no matter how much yichus he claims to have.

Burech hashem you don't have other daagos

10

 Oct 01, 2009 at 10:13 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

He is under the OK. All meats are Chassidishe Shechita, all breads are Pas Yisroel and there are 6 Mashgichim temidim on premises.

Reply to #4 Hide Quote
Anonymous Says:Says:
“ He is under the OK. All meats are Chassidishe Shechita, all breads are Pas Yisroel and there are 6 Mashgichim temidim on premises.”

Given this assurance, even Litvashe yankee fans should consider going to games and fressing to their heart's content.

11

 Oct 02, 2009 at 12:06 AM babushka Says:

What about the sour pickle?!? Price range?

12

 Oct 01, 2009 at 11:56 PM Yankee Fan Says:

bad food. expensive.

13

 Oct 02, 2009 at 05:04 AM shum Says:

face value ranges between $500 and $1250 per ticket (reduced from previously highest priced ticket of $2500). Hashgacha is OK, by (if my memory serves me) R' Yitzchok Gornish (not the R' Gornish around brooklyn i think)

14

 Oct 02, 2009 at 04:15 AM berel Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

The article does not say whether or not his operations at yankee stadium rely upon chassideshe hashgacha. Without this high level of hashgacha, no ehrleche yidden should even consider eating this food, no matter how much yichus he claims to have.

those who are medakdek on what you call 'chassidishe hahgacha' dont go to yankee stadium, and those who go to yankee stadium dont need chassidish hasgocha . now dont jump up and down 'whats wrong:?'. its just contradictory 'chassiduss vs. yankee stadium'

15

 Oct 02, 2009 at 07:30 AM zmaster Says:

all food in the legends is free.
I actually saw a ticket for $125 its definately worth it. I was there!

16

 Oct 02, 2009 at 06:23 AM Anonymous Says:

Where is the main stand? If you buy a non-VIP ticket, can you get to it?

I was at a game earlier this season, and all I found was a stand that had stuff sent up from a kitchen. Not bad, but nothing to write home about.

17

 Oct 02, 2009 at 03:52 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
babushka Says:

What about the sour pickle?!? Price range?

We don't eat Sour pickle till after simchas Torah

18

 Oct 02, 2009 at 03:09 AM joey Says:

Citi Field kosher food is way better...you actually get GRILLED hot dogs as opposed to soggy boiled dogs... Citi's Pastrami dog is m'ayn olam habah--too bad the mets stink.

19

 Oct 02, 2009 at 01:31 AM 5T Resident Says:

I hope anyone who has enough spare money lying around to pay $259 for baseball tickets in todays economy is also giving tzedakah. The Steinbrenners don't need your money, they have enough to support the next 10 generations in their family.

20

 Oct 02, 2009 at 01:35 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

I saw tickets on stubhub for Legends section 15b for only $259 for one game earlier in the season. Sometimes you have these games that these people just don't want to go to so they sell them for whatever they could get. Did that include the free food? Anyone?

Yes, the Legends tickets you saw on stubhub included the free food-which I've heard btw- is pretty good

21

 Oct 02, 2009 at 08:28 AM Lawyer Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

The article does not say whether or not his operations at yankee stadium rely upon chassideshe hashgacha. Without this high level of hashgacha, no ehrleche yidden should even consider eating this food, no matter how much yichus he claims to have.

Do you know what the definition of the word "ehrlich" is?

22

 Oct 02, 2009 at 01:19 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

The article does not say whether or not his operations at yankee stadium rely upon chassideshe hashgacha. Without this high level of hashgacha, no ehrleche yidden should even consider eating this food, no matter how much yichus he claims to have.

Honestly, I will take ANY siphardi's word on Kashrut over "chasidishe hashgaha" which in my experience is nothing special but business. Besides who can beat a delicious Sephardi cooking?

23

 Oct 02, 2009 at 09:01 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #21  
Lawyer Says:

Do you know what the definition of the word "ehrlich" is?

It means an upstanding yid who is shomrei torah umitzvot and understands the fundamental importance of eating only foods with chassideshe hashgacah.

24

 Oct 02, 2009 at 08:50 AM FVNMS Says:

I will state unequivocally that my wife's chulent is an out of the ballpark hit. I don't care how good anyone else's is, including Reb Ouri's; hers is in a league of its own. Undisputed champion. And she only uses Chassidishe shechita flanken.

25

 Oct 02, 2009 at 09:11 AM Moshe Says:

Reply to #14  
berel Says:

those who are medakdek on what you call 'chassidishe hahgacha' dont go to yankee stadium, and those who go to yankee stadium dont need chassidish hasgocha . now dont jump up and down 'whats wrong:?'. its just contradictory 'chassiduss vs. yankee stadium'

Of course chassidim are not Yankee fans - they are Met fans.

26

 Oct 02, 2009 at 09:44 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

will they serve the chulent in a sukkah on succos?

If I'm not mistaken you are allowed to eat a portion of Cholent, Chitz L'Sukkah

27

 Oct 02, 2009 at 10:35 AM Mordechai Hayihudee Says:

very nice. so while you are beeing moishiv laytzim with the goyim (the way the yivanim were trying to us be) you could have heimishe food. enjoy!

28

 Oct 02, 2009 at 10:27 AM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #22  
Anonymous Says:

Honestly, I will take ANY siphardi's word on Kashrut over "chasidishe hashgaha" which in my experience is nothing special but business. Besides who can beat a delicious Sephardi cooking?

Any Sefardi? Even the mosser Doueck? What makes you think Sefardim, individually or as a class, are any more honest than Ashkenazim? Inferiority complex? There are also as many bad Sefardi cooks as there are Ashkenazi.

29

 Oct 02, 2009 at 10:58 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
Ojoe Says:

"chassideshe hashgacha. Without this high level of hashgacha, no ehrleche yidden should even consider eating this food, no matter how much yichus he claims to have."

Chas Vesholom that anyone would eat from anything other than chasidishe hashgocho. Those litvaks, misnagdim, sefardim, galitzyazners, yekkishers, taymanim, etc... are obviously all totally worthless.

Pathetic. Feh.

Agreed, some people just open their mouths to change feet! 4 days after Yom Kippur and he is already maligning Yidden.Unbeleivable!

30

 Oct 02, 2009 at 10:56 AM moish Says:

Reply to #17  
Anonymous Says:

We don't eat Sour pickle till after simchas Torah

if you go to yankee stadium you should have no problem eating pickles ,even chrein

31

 Oct 02, 2009 at 11:01 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #18  
joey Says:

Citi Field kosher food is way better...you actually get GRILLED hot dogs as opposed to soggy boiled dogs... Citi's Pastrami dog is m'ayn olam habah--too bad the mets stink.

sounds like your palate is not too discriminating. If you knew what was in that hot dog you would never eat another one!

32

 Oct 02, 2009 at 11:50 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

The article does not say whether or not his operations at yankee stadium rely upon chassideshe hashgacha. Without this high level of hashgacha, no ehrleche yidden should even consider eating this food, no matter how much yichus he claims to have.

Nu, if you are such an "ehrleche yid" you should be in the Bais Medresh learning, not going to Yankee Stadium in the first place!

33

 Oct 02, 2009 at 11:20 AM chaskel Says:

Reply to #31  
Anonymous Says:

sounds like your palate is not too discriminating. If you knew what was in that hot dog you would never eat another one!

im eating hot dogs 50 years (not every miniute)and b'h es failt mir gur nit. the dr said if i eat it till 120 ill live long

34

 Oct 02, 2009 at 01:57 PM LIBERALISM IS A DISEASE Says:

Reply to #19  
5T Resident Says:

I hope anyone who has enough spare money lying around to pay $259 for baseball tickets in todays economy is also giving tzedakah. The Steinbrenners don't need your money, they have enough to support the next 10 generations in their family.

I have first hand knowledge - as in I have been on phone calls hearing with my own 2 ears - that the Yankees & the Steinbrenner family contribute to frum organizations in NY as well as throughout the country.

Give credit where credit is due.

35

 Oct 02, 2009 at 03:29 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #25  
Moshe Says:

Of course chassidim are not Yankee fans - they are Met fans.

Maybe they should daven harder, the Yankees are in first place and the Mets near the bottom.

36

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