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Bringing Pesach to the Masses

C. Rosenberg

With the huge quantity of spreads, dips, condiments, soups, and blintzes they prepare for Pesach, kashering the Williamsburg Tuv Taam factory is a major, mega, super-event!

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

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I t’s a snowy Shevat day, and I haven’t started thinking about Pesach cleaning yet. However, at Tuv Taam, they’re way ahead of the game. With the amount of spreads, dips, condiments, soups, and blintzes they prepare for Pesach, it’s time to begin kashering!

Sam, general manager at Tuv Taam welcomes the Mishpacha team into Tuv Taam’s sprawling enterprise, housed in a three-story building on nearly an entire block in Williamsburg, New York. As he leads us through this maze of a building, we get to see the frenzy of activity that makes kashering such a tedious, yet exciting event.

Our first stop is the steaming kitchen, where huge, 60-80 gallon kettles are filled to the brim with boiling hot water. Here we meet Rabbi Yosef Dovid Chanowitz, the OK’s kashering expert, and Itzik Kind, production manager at Tuv Taam. Both have nets over their hair, as do the rest of the production workers.

Rabbi Chanowitz, who has been kashering production facilities for several weeks now, is quite schooled in protective gear for this hands-on operation. Wearing knee-high boots, rubber gloves that reach past his elbows, and a heavy, black apron, he is well prepared.

As the water continues boiling in preparation for kashering, I step around the large puddle in the center of the room (from the overflowing pots), and follow Tuv Taam managers for a pre-kashering tour around the facility.

Scrubs and Suds

In the Washing Room, where all factory utensils are washed, two facility workers spray water from high-powered hoses at the floor, directing suds to a drain. Another worker sits next to a pail of sudsy water, cleaning a number of disassembled machine pieces.

“Production has been shut down for the past three days,” Sam explains. “We had a cleaning crew here instead, to get the place absolutely chometz-free.”

Though cleanliness is of utmost importance year round, the Pesach cleaning process has special significance. Sam points to a huge vat of extra-strength liquid cleaner used for difficult-to-clean grime.

 

Running a hand beneath the rim of a stainless steel table we pass, he holds up his fingers to show that they’re squeaky clean — there’s no room for dust or grime anywhere in Tuv Taam’s facilities. Indeed, each metal surface we pass gleams with cleanliness.

Making Room for Pesach

Piles of pans, stacks of plastic buckets and containers, racks of sheet pans, and mounds of utensils wound in plastic stand against a wall. Since these utensils won’t be kashered — either because they’re plastic, or because they’re very difficult to clean — they’ll be put into storage until after Pesach.

After kashering is complete, Pesach utensils marked by green spray paint will be brought with a forklift from their holding place in a trailer outside to replace the year-round utensils. Even the brown, year-round crates that hold cold containers of products are put away, and replaced by gray crates.

In nearly each room we pass, production workers are busy rolling and taping reams of silver foil onto moveable shelves and trolleys. If I ever thought the silver foil industry is supported by Pesach homemakers, that thought is now neatly put to bed; it’s the production facilities that support them.

Entering an almost bare room, I wonder why it is so empty when every other corner of the facility seems packed to capacity for maximum use of space.

“When we finish kashering, we’ll bring the kosher l’Pesach ingredients up here from the storage room,” Sam explains. “Then the room won’t be all that empty.” (Excerpted from Jr., Issue 655)

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