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Eat, Drink, and Be Married

The Multiethnic Feast
December 18, 2004

The Bride and Groom: Judy Berenthal, 28, and Ori Winitzer, 29, who are both M.B.A. candidates.

The Setting:
Angel Orensanz Foundation Center for the Arts, a desanctified neo-Gothic-style synagogue on the Lower East Side.

The Backstory:
Ori was born in Israel and had lived in France, and Judy's father's family is from Cuba. To personalize the wedding, the couple wanted a reception that featured Middle Eastern, French, and Cuban food. They also wanted it to be kosher, both to honor their heritage and to accommodate family members. This made finding a caterer an enormous challenge. "A kosher wedding automatically limited the caterers available and quadrupled the prices," says Ori.

Photographs by Arlene Sandler/Courtesy of Judy Berenthal and Ori Winitzer

Making it Happen:
Enter Dan Lenchner of New York's Manna Catering, an anything-but-traditional kosher caterer. The couple was impressed by Manna's sample menus - not a kugel, knish, kreplach, or kasha in sight - but was really sold when they met Lenchner in person. "Middle Eastern-Mediterranean food is standard for Dan, and he was very amenable to our other requests," says Ori.

How it Played Out: When guests arrived at six o'clock, food stations had been set up in the synagogue's mezzanine. One featured Middle Eastern fare such as baba ghannouj, ful (a hot fava-bean salad), Israeli salad, and Iraqi flatbread, while the other had Cuban favorites - arroz con pollo, ropa vieja (shredded beef), mango salad, and plantains. After the ceremony, which took place in the synagogue's main space, they moved back up to the mezzanine for cocktails (including, of course, mojitos) and hors d'oeuvre like lamb borekas with pomegranate dip, pissaladière (Provencal cheeseless pizza), cod cakes with saffron aioli, and fresh-tuna skewers. The sit-down dinner was French-Moroccan, starting with a salade composée of greens, roasted beets, asparagus, and a Tunisian potato-onion pastry called a brik. The main course was entrecôte de boeuf (rib-eye steak) with a Merlot-mushroom glaze and Israeli couscous and winter root vegetables, which was followed by a dessert of chocolat fondant molten chocolate cakes. A strong believer that a proper meal ends with a digestif, Ori provided a plum brandy. To create continuity between the food and the music, a klezmer band played during the meal, then afterward a Cuban orchestra took over. "It was a Jewish-themed event that turned into a Cuban thing really fast," Ori says. "People loved it," says Judy. "They're still calling to talk about it. They all say it's the best food they ever had."

The Tab: About $110 a head for food and beverage.

From the Spring 2005 New York Wedding Guide