During the recent renovation and expansion of the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis that added an additional 20,000 square feet of event space to the downtown convention-center property, the culinary team saw an opportunity to expand its offerings to accommodate its Jewish guests.
The hotel recently launched its Kosher Kitchen, a separate on-site banquet kitchen that allows Executive Chef Aaron Hagerdorn to properly prepare kosher delicacies for large Jewish celebrations.
According to Orthodox law, kosher meals cannot be prepared with the same dishes, utensils or ingredients that were previously used to make non-kosher food.
“We saw a market in the twin cities that we felt needed another venue option for events, “ says Hagerdorn, who honed his kosher cooking skills while working in a Hyatt hotel in Cincinnati.
The new Kosher Kitchen has taken over the space attached to the former Manny’s Steakhouse, and is located near the hotel’s new North Star Ballroom. Because the space already functioned as a kitchen, the cost associated with getting the project off the ground was minimal. Hagerdorn bought new stainless-steel appliances and made sure to equip the kitchen with two sets of small appliances and utensils such as blenders, food processers, pots, and pans. This allows the hotel to accommodate both meat and dairy kosher meals.
In addition to the new preparation space, a special kosher menu will be added to the hotel’s offerings. It will feature a variety of dishes, including a Mediterranean station complete with assorted olives, flat breads, and house made hummus, and classic desserts like babkas and rugelechs, But while all items will be kosher approved, guests can expect to see many of the same dishes that are served in the hotel’s other restaurants on the menu.
“We are still an operation that focuses on the flavors of Minnesota and all it has to offer,” says Hagerdorn. “We’re going to do what we do well, just using kosher products.”
The local Jewish community is already starting to embrace the new food and beverage options at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolish, and Hagerdorn says that groups who have toured the space have quickly fallen in love with it. Local Rabbi Shimon Perez of the Kehila Kashruth of Minnesota blessed the new kitchen and equipment, and is helping the hotel market itself as a destination for celebrations such as Jewish weddings and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.
“So many places treat kosher events like secondary priorities,” says Hagerdorn. “There is no reason that the kosher community can’t have outstanding event food in a hotel setting. I don’t think there’s any difference in cooking for a kosher or a non-kosher event. Both can be outstanding.”