A graduate of Bishulim Culinary Institute of Tel Aviv, Raisie Saad (HS '07) opened CedarStar Catering five years ago in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. "It's food that I grew up eating," Raisie says. "It's Lebanese-Jewish food, but it's cooked with an appreciation for modern cuisine. I take influences from things that I like to eat when I go out, from traveling, from living in New York." CedarStar Catering was never meant to be a full restaurant; so Raisie and her husband signed the lease for a casual counter-service-style eatery last March. The COVID-19 pandemic started the same week, and two weeks later, Raisie found out that she was pregnant. "When COVID hit, we had to rethink what we wanted to focus on. We were thinking about catering, and a lot of our business was office lunches, which obviously wasn't happening anymore."
So now Raisie is focusing on Shabbat meals, holiday meals, and family dinners "for people who want to stock their freezers with homestyle Middle Eastern food." Everything is homemade by Raisie, though she does get help from her family.
"It's also a family company," Raisie says. "All of my family has helped me build the space, and my mother will come and help me roll kibbeh [a Middle Eastern meat ball with spices and bulgar]." Raisie already cooks for some Heschel families and alumni. Last year, she catered a Heschel alumni event.
Her most popular dishes? "I definitely think that the Mezze Platter is something special," she says. "It's kibbeh, lahmbajeen, and panko-crusted chicken nuggets. People also love the kale bourekas, which is kale and caramelized onion inside puff pastry. And I love all of my dips. The hummus is homemade and we use really good tahini, and the babaganoush is made with roasted eggplant."
While she caters for holidays and did many orders for the High Holy Days, Raisie says that many clients order Shabbat dinners. "I'm hoping that after I give birth and take a little time off that I'll open up the spot in Brooklyn for takeout," Raisie says. In the meantime, CedarStar Catering is open for orders. Visit the website here.