Arnon Oren at Sailing Goat, one of two eateries he owns in Richmond. (Photo/Courtesy)
Arnon Oren at Sailing Goat, one of two eateries he owns in Richmond. (Photo/Courtesy)

Why this Richmond-based chef’s new kosher catering outfit may not be in Richmond

For years, Arnon Oren, the chef and owner of the Richmond-based catering company Anaviv, would host a kosher event or two each year, maybe a wedding or something for Contra Costa Jewish Day School.

Now he’s opening a second catering company, a kosher one, with a different name —  Ta’yeem Kosher Catering — so as not to confuse the two.

It wasn’t a quick decision for Oren, who is known for his farm-to-table approach as well as his two restaurants, Anaviv’s Table and Sailing Goat, both in Richmond.

Arnon Oren, who runs two restaurants and a catering company, is starting a kosher catering business. (Photo/Courtesy)
Arnon Oren, who runs two restaurants and a catering company, is starting a kosher catering business. (Photo/Courtesy)

During the 2010s when he was occasionally catering a kosher event, he was collecting kosher equipment and forging relationships with people in the kosher community. Then during the pandemic, he had coffee with Wendy Kleckner. Since retiring from Too Catering in 2019, Kleckner has become a sort of broker, matching people with the local kosher caterer that best suits their needs. After working on a few events with Oren, Kleckner started referring people to him, too.

“She has amazing relationships throughout the Jewish community,” Oren said.

Ta’yeem, which means “tasty” in Hebrew, is overseen by Rabbi Shlomo Zarchi of San Francisco’s Congregation Chevra Thilim in the Richmond District, and all food is made in the synagogue’s kitchen. Ta’yeem offers either dairy or meat events.

The decision to start a kosher catering company comes at an unsettling time for Oren, who is from Israel. He was one of many people who spoke at the tense and divisive Richmond City Council meeting on Oct. 24 about an intensely anti-Israel resolution in response to the Israel-Hamas war. The resolution, which included references to “ethnic cleansing,” “genocide” and “apartheid,” passed 5 to 1.

Oren said he is “bitter” about its passage and has met with other concerned citizens to talk about next steps. In the meantime, he said, he will probably register Ta’yeem in San Francisco as a protest to the council’s vote and avoid paying the fees and taxes to the city of Richmond.

Arnon called the resolution a “slap in the face.” In his view, there are so many better ways to respond to conflict.

“You want to do something about it, reach out to the community, both Palestinians and Israelis,” he said. “Do something positive and productive that can bring people together.”

So why does he think there’s room for another kosher caterer in a region that doesn’t have enough demand to keep a kosher restaurant open?

“Kosher catering is different,” he said. “If you’re getting married and a beloved relative is coming from New York and they keep kosher, giving them a black box wrapped in plastic isn’t cool while everyone else gets short ribs on china. You might as well make the whole event kosher.”

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."