Duquesne University brings kosher food Uptown
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Kosher foodElegant Edge has been retained as caterer

Duquesne University brings kosher food Uptown

Initial kosher offerings — which might include shawarma wraps, classic deli sandwiches and grilled chicken — are only the beginning.

Duquesne Student Union (Public domain)
Duquesne Student Union (Public domain)

Kosher food is coming to Duquesne University.

Parkhurst Dining, which provides dining services to the Uptown Catholic university, has reached an agreement for Elegant Edge, a Squirrel Hill caterer, to provide students, staff and visitors with an eclectic mix of kosher sandwiches, salads and wraps, university officials announced on Friday. The food will begin appearing on campus during the week of Aug. 29, the second week of fall semester classes.

“We have wanted to produce that on campus for a while,” said Chris Novak, a marketing manager with Parkhurst, an Eat-N-Park Hospitality Group brand. “As dining on university campuses has become more inclusive, we’ve seen more vegetarian options, now vegan options. We know that sense of inclusivity is only going to grow with this kosher offering — hopefully, it’s a learning opportunity.”

Judah Cowen, the owner of Elegant Edge, said initial kosher offerings — which might include shawarma wraps, classic deli sandwiches and grilled chicken — are only the beginning of his work Uptown.

“We’re looking at this as the first step of bringing kosher food to Duquesne,” Cowen said. “It’s always exciting to expand the kosher options for college kids. Now, we’re at CMU, we’re at Pitt.”

“We’d love to see this scale over time,” added Novak. “But it’s going to be based on popularity, the growth.”

Elegant Edge’s kosher food will be available at retail locations on campus, such as grab-and-go markets in Fisher Hall, Rockwell Hall and elsewhere, Novak said. In addition, the university will have another vendor provide frozen kosher meals such as a Mexican casserole bowl and cheese and cauliflower pad thai.

The decision to offer kosher food at Duquesne is a huge victory for Shai Maaravi, a university alum who, during his tenure as its Hillel chapter president, pushed for an expanded menu.

“Even though I’m now out of Duquesne, this is something I started, and I’m happy to see it come to fruition,” Maaravi said. “This is so important to making the campus more welcoming to Jewish students … Plus, I’m sure the rest of the student body will enjoy the great food.”

Maaravi said the kosher options would appeal to Jewish students, as well as campus visitors and working professionals downtown looking for great-tasting kosher options.

“I’m happy they were able to do it, and I’m thankful for everyone who made the effort to make it happen,” he added.

Maaravi and Reuben Nepo, the current Hillel president, said people like Tim Fetter, the senior general manager for Parkhurst at Duquesne, were central to the inclusion of kosher food on campus menus. Maaravi and Nepo both cited the sale and display of kosher-style foods during Passover seders held in a campus dining hall this spring.

“That’s really exciting,” said Nepo, 22, a native Pittsburgher and incoming Duquesne junior, when told the news. “My reaction? I know Tim’s worked really hard in the past to put together a halal option. There’s going to be a lot of opportunities here for Elegant Edge.”

Novak said the kosher option is part of a larger trend at the school, where Parkhurst is offering more specialized options. He cited PETA’s A+ rating of Duquesne’s meal offerings, as well as “Forged Partner” requirements, such as one that mandates at least 20% of all food sold at Duquesne must be sourced within 100 miles of the school. PJC

Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.

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