An Orthodox Executive At OpenTable Can’t Eat At 99.99% Of The Restaurants On His App

    Joseph Essas, the chief technology officer of the restaurant reservation and take-out app OpenTable, is an Orthodox Jew. That means he keeps kosher, which means he can only eat at about 30 of the 55,000 restaurants that use his company’s app, Business Insider reported.

    It has led to some awkward situations when restaurants try to accommodate his dietary restrictions — especially because keeping strictly kosher means you can only eat food prepared in a kosher kitchen, which any restaurant without kosher certification wouldn’t have.

    “I’ve had [kosher] airline food brought in the fanciest restaurants in the world,” he said at a recent event in New York. “I’ve had people serve complete traif [non-kosher] and say, ‘This is kosher.’ I’ve had people bring ham and say, ‘This is kosher.’ I’ve had it all.”

    In order to minimize the awkwardness, Essas will sometimes tell the waiter he can’t eat anything in the restaurant because he’s on a special diet.

    He also makes a point to be home for Shabbat.

    “We have offices everywhere in the world, so I travel a lot. But I’m always home for Shabbat, never miss it,” he said. “I feel Shabbat is a gift we have that others haven’t figured out yet, how important it is to just disconnect and spend time with your family, and that it allows us to do so.”

    Ari Feldman is a staff writer at the Forward. Contact him at feldman@forward.com or follow him on Twitter @aefeldman

    OpenTable Executive Only Eats Kosher Food

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