Le Marais brings steakhouse style to Shabbat dinner

Josh Axelrod, General Associate Editor [email protected]

A typical Shabbat dinner at Rohr Chabad Jewish Student Center usually involves delicious home-cooked food, joyous singing and a warm sense of hospitality. This past Friday night, however, Chabad kicked it up a notch, bringing a high-end steak restaurant to New Orleans and having them cater an elegant four-course kosher meal for students.

Le Marais, a Manhattan-based steakhouse, took over the Chabad kitchen on Friday, Nov. 4, to provide students with a top-of-the-line dining experience. Co-owner and Executive Chef Jose de Meirelles and Executive Chef Mark Hennessey, make it a point to interact with the human side of cuisine, finding time to leave the kitchen to do book tours and visit colleges.

“We try our best to be in touch with the community and still run a big Manhattan restaurant,” Hennessey said. 

The meal started with poke served over a bamboo rice, a popular Hawaiian fish dish. The second course was apple parsnip soup, followed by either a coq au vin or bourbon barbecue chicken. A burnt s’mores pie for dessert wrapped up the meal.

Rabbi Leibel Lipskier is in his sophomore year of running Chabad at Tulane, and is always looking for ways to improve and enrich the Jewish community he has helped to cultivate. Often allowing different clubs and student organizations to sponsor Shabbat dinners, Chabad has seen upwards of 300 attendees at its weekly dinners. 

“At Chabad one of our staple events is Shabbat,” Lipskier said. “We thought it would be an amazing thing … to bring top chefs to our Chabad house.”

Warren Cohn, Le Marais public relations consultant and A. B. Freeman School of Business alumnus, brought the restauranteurs to Tulane. Cohn graduated in 2009 and was the Chabad Board president, which allowed him to maintain a relationship that would benefit both his clients and hungry Tulane students.

“I thought it would be really cool to come to a smaller Jewish community, especially one that’s so close to me and my heart,” Cohn said. “Luckily enough for me and the community … they were receptive to that.”

Students were overjoyed at the opportunity to indulge in fine dining for a night. Remi Beek, a sophomore on the Chabad Board, thought the dinner was a mouthwatering success.

“It was a special twist on a classic shabbat meal that I’m glad Chabad got to experience,” Beek said.

De Meireilles is a non-Jewish Portuguese immigrant, and started the French brasserie Les Halles, where Anthony Bourdain served as his executive chef, before opening Le Marais. Aiming to occupy the vacancy of high-quality kosher restaurants in New York, de Meirelles opened his steakhouse in 1995.

The chefs will continue to tour colleges and communities, promoting their new cookbook, “Le Marais: A Rare Steakhouse — Well Done.” Coming to Tulane for free, paying for their own hotels, flights and supplies, the restaurateurs merely hoped to satisfy and delight students.

As de Meireilles stood at the grill, he expressed hope that the meal would be delicious. Needless to say, many Tulane students can vouch that they succeeded in that.