Chef Shaya interviewed Stuart Katz about Deluxe Kosher Tours for Shaya’s blog at AtYourPalate.com.
Here’s an excerpt from Shaya’s interview of Stuart:
I’m originally from Panama but left at a young age. I grew up in San Diego, then later went away for high school to Skokie Yeshiva in Chicago. After high school, I spent a year of work-study in Israel on Kibbutz Yavne, after which I returned to receive a Bachelors at UC San Diego.
I went on to complete a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University and an MBA from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. I planned to make aliyah after this but was offered an opportunity to start a tour company with a focus on Israel travel in New York with the “promise” that after two years I would manage the company in Israel. Life works in strange ways and those two years turned into 19 years.
During this time I had the opportunity also to be the managing director for Israir Airlines when they made an entry into the US. Unfortunately this route ceased due to the economic crisis in 2008. Throughout the years many of my customers have said that they would like to travel with me to places other than Israel – until now, I never felt properly equipped to handle such requests.
For the past seven years I have diligently studied over 25 potential markets around the world and the possibility of conducting kosher tours there. I have determined that now is the time to proceed in that direction.
There really are so many but some of the more exotic and interesting ones are: Bolivia, Uganda, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Southern France, Ireland and Scotland (Kosher Whiskey Tour), Vietnam and Cambodia, Peru and the Galapagos (Ecuador) and many more.
Obstacles [to organizing kosher tours to these locations] include making sure that all of our local suppliers – tour guides, hotels, and drivers, for example – understand the needs of the kosher traveler. This includes making sure that we have access to manual doors on Shabbat or someone to open the doors, making sure that we can get into the kitchens at the hotels properly to kasher them before cooking a meal or to properly re-heat food if it’s brought in prepared from a kosher caterer and making sure the housekeeping staff keep the lights on over Shabbat.
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