Spago's Passover Tradition

When I think of Passover I think of family gathered together from near and far.

                     

It seems to be one of the most intimate and traditional of the Jewish holidays. Let me start out by saying that I'm not Jewish. In the Jewish community I'm known as a "goyim" = a non Jew.

So when I was invited to spend Passover at Spago's Beverly Hills I was intrigued. Wasn't this a time you were supposed to spend with family?  Well it turned out that I was with family, a very large, very friendly, extended family with Barbara Lazaroff as the beautiful and warm matriarch.

                     

In 1984 Lazaroff found herself in Los Angeles feeling homesick for her family and the celebrations they had when she was younger in the Bronx. So she and her husband Wolgang Puck, decided to recreate a Seder at their restaurant Spagos. "I decided to make Spago my dining room," says Lazaroff. It became a yearly tradition and is almost always sold out, so get your tickets early. This new tradition of a restaurant Seder has inspired many other restaurants across the country to create Passover Seders.

This year, the same as in past years, the Seder was held the second night of Passover. When my escort and I arrived at Spago's we found out we were seated at the Rabbi's table. We were lead past hundreds of happy hungry faces, all the way to the back of Spago's and into one of their overflow rooms. Not only were we seated with the Rabbi but his fiance the Cantor and the president of Mazon.

                     


Mazon is a Jewish hunger-response organization that helps people worldwide and of all religious persuasions. It is a citizens' movement, the outgrowth of tens of thousands of American Jews who have stepped forward to solve one of the world's most devastating - and most preventable - problems. With their support, Mazon works around the United States, and around the globe, to bring critical relief to millions of hungry families. Mazon funds emergency food providers, food banks, multi-service organizations and advocacy groups both in this country and abroad. All of the proceeds from Spago's Seders go to benefit Mazon. 


The Rabbi and Cantor were hardly at the table. They lead the services traveling from table to table as the guests joined in reading from the Haggadah. It was a very interactive and heart warming Seder. We sang, held hands, stood in a circle around the table arms around each other. The Rabbi even gave Hebrew names to those who didn't have one. I was named Miriam.

                     


Spago refrains from using leavened products or shellfish for the Seder meal. The kitchen separates meat and dairy items, identifies desserts that use cream or butter and serves kosher wine. "Obviously, since our restaurant isn't kosher, the Seder isn't kosher," says Lazaroff. "But it's not exactly tref (non-kosher)."


Spago's Seder menu includes Puck's renditions of matzoh ball soup, gefilte fish, and such specialties as foie gras with apple-and-potato-onion latkes, Moroccan-style lamb and six different desserts. The food was prepared perfectly and everything was delicious. My escort kept commenting on how even though most of the dishes were the traditionally Jewish. He was impressed with how Puck had created them to be so gourmet and at times almost unrecognizable from what he was used to getting at home. These were not your grandmas matzoh balls.

                     


I found the evening to be extremely enjoyable. The atmosphere seemed to be one of a huge family reunion. The food was divine and the company delightful.


Spago Beverly Hills
176 North Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
P: 310-385-0880
F: 310-385-9690

Mazon
http://www.mazon.org

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