Cafe Chabad.JPGThe Jewish people of Essex are already looking forward to the next Chabad international-themed dinner,which will be taking place at Chabad’s new premises on Epping New Road in March. In conjunction with Purim, Buckhurst Hill Chabad will be holding a Mexican-themed meal as part of its monthly kosher restaurant night.

The Chabad centre, which is transformed into a kosher restaurant for these evenings, offers a different menu every month. In February, diners enjoyed a traditional heimishe meal, while Japanese was the order of the day in January. In December, guests were treated to an Argentinian-style steak night and in November, a Chinese feast was served. In the coming months, an Israeli evening, a Moroccan banquet and an Italian supper are also being planned.

According to Rabbi Odom Brandman, the evenings attract between 70 and 100 people. There are two sittings – 6–8pm and 8.30pm – as well as a take-away service available. And it’s not just the people of Buckhurst Hill who are making the most of the only restaurant in Essex. As Rabbi Brandman explains: ‘At our last event, there was only one table from Buckhurst Hill. Everyone else had come from Loughton, Chigwell and Ilford. We also had people here who have never been to our shul before.’

Although Chabad has been running these evenings for a number of years now, it was only on an occasional basis. But with a new centre, which has more space and facilities, Rabbi Brandman hopes that these evenings will become a regular monthly feature. He says: ‘We’re making a go of it and it’s working. Demand is obviously there.’

Indeed, Rabbi Brandman explains that when Chabad moved into the area nine years ago, many people said it was a shame that there was no restaurant in the area. If you wanted a kosher dining experience and lived in Essex, it meant a 45-minute drive to Golders Green or other parts of North-West London. ‘Our mission is to serve the community where something is lacking,’ he says. ‘Although some local people had the idea to open a kosher restaurant, it would have been such a big investment and may not have worked. So it made sense for us to use the centre because we had all the facilities here that we needed.’

The kosher nights have gained much support from the community. They are run and staffed mainly by volunteers, so they are charity evenings that help raise vital funds for Chabad. Rabbi Brandman explains that local chef Neil and Alison Cohen have been the driving force behind the last few events and will continue to organise future ones, while Andrew and Felisa Kennard have also been involved, and Alan and Louise Malina are now on board too. And most importantly, these evenings provide great kosher food, fantastic value and are on people’s doorstep.

If you would like further information about forthcoming events:

E: rabbi@chabadonthehill.co.uk 
T:  020 8926 2376