Want to to travel the world? Meet the man who’ll feed you gourmet glatt anywhere.
Malcolm Green doesn’t hide his light under a bushel. When the Netanya-based businessman emailed me earlier this year, to congratulate me on my list of Top 20 Jewish Foodies, he also berated me for having ignored him “yet again” despite his “amazing CV”.
The 73-year old father of two went on to share his (admittedly lengthy) list of achievements in the kosher catering world — from Brighton hotelier and caterer to providing high- end cuisine on luxury cruises in destinations as far flung as the Arctic and Vietnam’s Mekong River.
His well-heeled clients stop at nothing to keep kashrut: “I got a phone call once from Mrs Goldberg’s pilot who told me his boss was flying from South Africa to LA to see her father. He said they needed to touch down in Barbados — could I cater for 11 of them? I told him it would be very expensive.”
Emerald Azzurra in Halong Bay, Vietnam (Photo: Emerald Cruises)
This was no problem. Green flew to Barbados the following week, where he took over one of the restaurants at the Hilton, catering for the transiting group for two days on both their way out and return.
That same client hired him to cater for two weeks on their family holiday in Mauritius. After feeding an extended family on holiday in a Scottish castle he set up his website Kosher Services Worldwide, later adding weddings and ocean cruises to his portfolio.
Eight years ago, he set up the kosher river cruise division, with US-based business partner David Lawrence; dedicating himself to that full-time, and now limits his holiday catering to parties of 40-plus.
Getting kosher food to some of the more remote rivers can be a challenge. “In the Mekong we work with the local Chabad rabbi. We piggyback on the shipping containers of dry food he receives there each year.
All the meat has to be flown in from South Africa. We order it, but the rabbi imports it for us. On one occasion he told me he had to pay $2,000 to get it into the country. I asked him if that was under the table, and he told me that in Cambodia it’s done over the table.”
Next year, his team will be catering on a super yacht from Panama to Costa Rica. Green tells me Panama City is well served with two kosher supermarkets and eight restaurants.
“When we had a trip there, we’d arranged for the group to see the rainforest, but they were equally keen to go to the kosher supermarkets and then look at mezuzas to see what type of houses the Jewish people there had.”
Guests are not always appreciative of Green’s efforts.
“We were in Manaus in the Amazon. It’s extremely remote. We’d begged, borrowed and smuggled to get food there.
“The shochet (the rabbi’s father-in-law) in Belem, which is 800 miles from Manaus, had been slaughtering and sending in parcels of meat every few days. We’d really had to work hard.
“One of our guests — who we’ve catered for before — asked if I had any cream for her coffee.
“When I said it was one of the items we could not get she said, ‘If I’d known you wouldn’t have brought cream for my coffee, I wouldn’t have come.”
The same client later changed her mind about Green and his operation on a later trip when they looked after her following her husband being taken unwell.
His ability to handle the foibles of all sorts of guests has its roots in his early years.
As the son and grandson of food-service entrepreneurs, he’s seen first-hand the changing habits of kosher holidaymakers.
In the 1970s he and his aunt ran Brighton’s Kings Hotel — sadly, at the tail end of a trend. “In 1945, there were 40 kosher hotels and boarding houses in Brighton. We were the last one.”
He’d taken on the hotel as a favour to his family.
“My aunt had been the manager there for 20 years and the owners wanted her to take over the licence.
“She wasn’t shomer Shabbat but I was so I agreed to do it with her.”
Five years later, when the lease expired, they closed and Green pivoted to kosher catering in the seaside town until he and wife Diane made aliyah in 1983.
But perhaps Israel wasn’t ready for traditional Ashkenazi menus and within the year, he was back in Brighton, serving melon, smoked salmon, chicken soup and roast chicken dinners to a loyal (and growing) crowd.
Five years later they returned to Israel, where things took off. He was, he tells me “the doyen of Anglo-Saxon caterers in Israel”.
As his reputation grew, word spread and he started catering for wealthy clients holidaying all over the world, from Jamaica and St Martin to Hawaii and Florida’s Key West. And so his globe-trotting catering began.
Before Brexit, he’d pick up most of his supplies in Golders Green and then drive into Europe. It has become too complicated to take the food out of the UK into Europe, so he had to find new suppliers.
“We now use suppliers in Budapest.”
The market for these costly trips is so limited that he runs only three a year for up to a maximum 100 passengers.
“It’s better to run them full than run more trips that are half full.” He takes three full-time kashrut supervisors, a rabbi who does the services, a guest lecturer and American social media influencer Naomi Nachman, who does cookery demonstrations.
His plans for the next couple of years include taking 100 guests on a super yacht and hopefully, a kosher trip on The Orient Express en route to one of his cruises.
“I’ve wanted to do this for 15 years, but it won’t be cheap — the regular price is $3,000 per night.
“If we can’t sell it, we won’t do it,” he shrugs. Something tells me Mr Kosher Cruise will pull it off.
Article, written by Victoria Prever, published in the Jewish Chronicle, London. 11th August 2023. Republished with their kind permission.