Avra Keats- 03/23/07 Hi everyone,
The email that we have all been receiving about the unkosher activities occurring at Le Marais is pretty descriptive and disturbing in its allegations.
In addressing my own concerns I have contacted the OU and Le Marais to find out what is really going on.
Here is the story:
The evening mashgiach and the chef had a big falling out. When the owner would not fire the chef, the mashgiach resigned and started a smear campaign against the restaurant. The OU is still giving certification to the restaurant and has investigated the issues and found NO HALACHIC VIOLATIONS.
1) Shellfish- The rabbi alleges that the chef ordered shellfish and used it in the restaurant. In reality a new food delivery company for a restaurant next door made a mistake and dropped off the wrong package on a day Le Marais was closed to patrons, but open for construction. The box containing the shell fish was never even brought into the restaurant but left at the door. The delivery company admitted the error and has the invoice to prove it.
2) Unkosher Margarine- The chef of Le Marais ran out of margarine and went to a supermarket up to get some more. Upon his return the mashgiach saw that the chef had purchased OU-Dairy margarine. The dairy margarine was brought right back and NEVER came near ant food. The chef realized the mistake and since then has been even more careful, and relies on the mashgiachâ€™s advice for everything purchased in an emergency situation.
3) Strawberries- The claims that strawberries that had not been properly checked were used. This is just not true as the morning mashgiach, Rabbi Avrohom Keller, had cleaned and checked all the strawberries.
4) Turning on the flame- the daytime mashgiach, Rabbi Avrohom Keller, has never ever seen this in his experiences with the chef.
5) Beetles in the lettuce- The rabbi claims that the chef intentionally placed bugs in the salad. It is the mashgiachâ€™s responsibility to check the lettuce for bugs before it is served; yet, the chef he directs his anger wasnâ€™t even at the restaurant the night he claims it happened.
Again the OU has investigated and found these to either be slander or misunderstandings. The OU is still giving their certification.
I hope that you will trust the OU here as we do on so many of our products and trust the integrity of the owners of le Marais, who have been slandered for no reason other than the anger of a disgruntled mashgiach. What the allegations amount to is a bizarre reversal of the old Jewish â€śblood Libelâ€ť canard, as the chef and the owner of Le Marais are not Jewish, and are being accused of intentionally feeding Jews treif to satisfy some perversion.
After speaking with the owner of Le Marais and meeting Rabbi Avrohom Keller, a good man and trustworthy mashgiach, I hold them in much esteem for being so thorough in their investigation to get to the bottom of this. The daytime mashgiach stated very clearly that the evening mashgiach was warned repeatedly by the OU to stop making up his own rules about kashrut and stop the rumors and gossip he was creating, and to stick to the kashrut guidelines of the OU.
Rabbi Yakkov Luban and Rabbi Dov Schreier at the OU, prepared a defense of Le Marais and disgust over the slander. Go to ou's website to see it.
If anything changes I will be sure to let you know.