Over 20 years ago, Yoel and Galit Konstantine met at Pninat ha’Baron, the Baron’s Pearl, a banquet garden located in Zichron Yaakov. Both had attended culinary school, Yoel in Herzilya, and Galit in Haifa, and after cooking for a friend’s engagement party as a last-minute favor, the two decided to come to the United States to pursue additional training and careers in catering here in New England.
In 1998, the Konstantines arrived in the United States not two weeks after their wedding in Israel, and for the next 5 years they were both managing restaurants, Yoel working at the Park Plaza Hotel and Galit at the Sheraton Boston, all while getting degrees in Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management at Johnson and Wales University.
In 2003, after much planning and preparation, the Konstantines established Dushez Catering, and they have been dazzling the palates of Jewish Boston ever since with custom Kosher catering that you have certainly had before at a celebration.
I sat down with Galit Konstantine earlier this summer to talk more about catering, Israeli cuisine, and more.
After working in hotel restaurants in Boston for 5 years, what made you take the leap and start your own company?
We both had 5 years of great culinary experiences in Boston, but after a lot of encouragement from our friends we decided to continue with the catering journey. We love what we do and we do it with love.
Where does the name “Dushez” come from?
The name comes from a French dish called Pommes Duchesse, a delicious combination of egg, potato, butter, salt, and pepper. “Duchesse” means “duchess” and “Dushez” is the equivalent Hebrew word. But a lot of people still call Yoel “Mr. Dushez” because they assume the company is named after him.
Catering is a competitive business. What makes Dushez unique?
We care about each customer and we give absolute attention to all of details. And I do mean “we.” When you call us, Yoel and I personally take care of you, from the first phone call to the end of the event. We tell our customers that we want them to be a guest at their own event, because we will take care of everything. Every request, every detail, every special item…we take care of you as if you are our family. We are also constantly changing our menu, and as we always tell our customers, yes, all of it is Kosher. All of it.
Where do you get ideas for new items or dishes?
We are constantly looking around for trends and talking to our friends in the catering business, both back in Israel and here in Boston. We hear a lot, and listen a lot, to our customers, as well, since they know what they like and they may have ideas for dishes we haven’t heard about before. Finally, Yoel and I like to go to out to eat to see what’s out there- we call that “professional development”!
That sounds like some high-quality professional development. What kinds of events do you do?
We do a large number of B’nei Mitzvah and weddings, but also company events, parties in private homes, and other organizational catering. Our kitchens are located at Hebrew College in Newton Centre.
What is trendy right now in the catering business?
Gluten-free foods are very popular, as well as vegan cuisine. Vegan, though, is probably more popular. We are also seeing a higher demand for mini dishes, things in smaller portions like finger foods, sliders, sushi, bite-size snacks… people like little things.
What does the term “Israeli cuisine” mean to you?
That’s a great question. To us, Israeli cuisine is a very broad term. In Israel, not only has the country been shaped by the arrival of over one million immigrants in the past 100 years, but the new arrivals have all brought their own, diverse, culinary traditions. It’s a delicious, international combination of European, Middle Eastern, North African, South American, and, yes, American influences.
How have your culinary styles been impacted by your experiences in America?
Just like in Israeli cuisine, there is not easy way to define “American” food, as different cultures and ethnicities all contribute to how people in this country like their food prepared. Since we came here in 1998, though, we have learned a lot about sauces, particularly gravy, and also have been swept up in the sushi craze that seems to keep on going. We also like to take more traditional American food, like braised chicken, and introduce a little exotic flavor to it by using some Moroccan fruit sauce.
Do you have a dish that you make that is your favorite to eat?
I love the berry cobbler. Especially in the summer, it’s fresh, summery, and colorful.
Sounds delicious. Finally, every year there seems to a “hot” ingredient in food. Quinoa, kale, sriracha… what are you seeing now, or hearing about now, as an up-and-coming item?
Definitely beets, both red and golden, and lentils. We are also getting a lot of asks for sliders, which only confirms that hamburgers remain very, very popular with our clientele. Finally, colorful macaroons are definitely picking up in popularity.