For most people, dining out is an opportunity to relax, with someone else doing the preparing, the serving, and the cleaning up. For the kosher consumer, though, relaxation can come only through knowing that someone is keeping a careful eye on the kitchen, ensuring that the food is prepared according to the highest standards of kosher.
Supervising a restaurant presents challenges that are quite different from supervising a food production plant. Factories generally standardize their procedures down to strictly defined steps in order to increase efficiency. The ingredients that go into their products are highly regulated and the recipes or formulae used to make their products are precise and rigid. A factory does not go to the local store to buy a missing ingredient. Kosher supervisors keep careful track of which ingredients are brought into the plant and where they go.
Restaurants, of course, are completely different. Because recipes and menus change, so does the list of ingredients. When ingredients are needed at the last minute, restaurant employees commonly run out to purchase them from local stores. As a result, restaurants require more hands-on supervision by the certifying agency. The agency needs someone in the restaurant checking every ingredient that comes in.
For a restaurant to maintain kosher standards, a full-time supervisor is required-and the supervisor’s job is not an easy one. Since the owner cannot open the restaurant if the supervisor is not present, the supervisor must be highly reliable and punctual. Turning out tasty, clean meals in a punctual fashion is a high-pressure operation. Working together in close proximity in a cramped, hot kitchen creates tension. The supervisor cannot hamper a restaurant’s operations but must make sure that standards are upheld. To ensure that supervisors are functioning up to par, the supervising agency keeps in close contact with its supervisors.
The OK has a special staff that deals solely with restaurants and caterers. This staff is trained to smooth over any tensions that may arise between the supervisor and restaurant owner. The agency’s restaurant staff oversees all supervisors and ensures, among other things, that they come in on time. If for some reason a supervisor fails to show up, members of this staff find a last minute replacement and, where necessary, will even visit the restaurant themselves until the supervisor arrives.
In kosher supervision there can be no shortcuts. All these layers of checks and balances are necessary to ensure the consumer will be served food that’s 100% kosher. The OK’s hands-on, attention-to-details approach in certifying restaurants promises that your dining experience will be a truly restful one.