Amy Ferrante-Gollwitzer’s local food service businesses will continue to offer kosher-style food, even after they end certified kosher food services on May 25, 2021, she said.
It comes down to the kitchens.
Ferrante-Gollwitzer uses kitchen space at the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in Whitefish Bay to prepare food certified by Kosher Supervisors of Wisconsin, a strictly observant effort. Ferrante-Gollwitzer’s employees operate CafA B Data at the JCC. They prepare food for a Gan Ami Early Childhood Education school lunch program and a recurring men’s club lox lunch, among other efforts. From the JCC kitchen, Ferrante-Gollwitzer has had certified kosher food prepared and served at many other locations around town.
In contrast, the kitchen at Ferrante’s Restaurant and Signature Catering, 10404 N. Port Washington Road, Mequon, does not operate under kosher supervision. But it will continue to serve kosher-style foods. The Mequon kitchen has been the source for hundreds of pandemic-era Passover meals for people ordering through their Milwaukee-area Reform synagogues. It’s all kosher-style, not certified kosher to Orthodox rabbinical standards.
Ferrante-Gollwitzer said she’s ending kosher-certified work at the JCC, thinking of her children and three young grandchildren.
“The honest truth is I need more time with my family,” she said. “It’s just time.”
“Kosher can work in Milwaukee when you have a great partner,” she said. “They gave the space, the venue and we weren’t standing alone. It was perfect. My relationship and partnership with the JCC was amazing.”
Mark Shapiro, president and CEO of the JCC, has said that he looks forward to sharing information about next steps for food service there in the months ahead.
An Italian Catholic girl
Ferrante-Gollwitzer describes herself as an Italian Catholic girl who got into kosher food.
She got started in 2002. “I have a lot of Jewish girlfriends and one of them said, ‘Hey, would you like to do this for me?’” she recalled. That first event was at a local synagogue, Anshe Sfard Kehillat Torah in Glendale.
It was her first experience with kosher certification, she had no kosher kitchen space of her own, and she made use of the synagogue’s kosher kitchen. “Before the event was over, two women approached me to do a kosher event for their families. So, that first one got me two more right away,” she said.
It grew from there. One of the lessons she learned along the way: “The rabbi is always right.”
After several years, Ferrante-Gollwitzer entered an arrangement with the JCC to make use of its kitchen and increasingly became a go-to kosher food provider for the Milwaukee-area Jewish community. This is, in a sense, the end of an era. If you’ve eaten food at area Jewish events over the last decade or so, you’ve probably eaten Ferrante-Gollwitzer’s food.
This was not an easy choice, she said.
“I spent a lot of time making the decision,” Ferrante-Gollwitzer said. “I’m happy. I’m happy for the success that it was and the friends that I made. I really am.”