Five questions for JCC’s Robin Rickerman

Robin Rickerman


Robin Rickerman has been in the food service business her entire adult life. For about 15 years, she owned seven Robin’s Nest restaurants as well as a grocery store in Owensville, Mo. After selling her businesses in 2006, she became the kosher catering manager for Crowne Plaza Hotel in Clayton.

Today, Rickerman, who gives her age as “50-plus,” is director of food service and events manager at the Jewish Community Center. A graduate of Ladue Horton Watkins High School and the culinary program at Forest Park Community College, Rickerman taught at the culinary school at East Central College in Union, Mo. She is single and lives in the Hill neighborhood in St. Louis.

Recently, we sat down and asked Rickerman five questions about her work at the JCC.

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Why the foray into kosher catering?

A friend owned Crowne Plaza in Clayton and we worked out at the same gym. When I was closing my businesses, I asked if he had anything for me and he said kosher sales. I didn’t know anything about that, so I called Albert Glassman (who worked at Aish Hatorah) because he did all kosher events and he taught me how to do kosher and the Orthodox way of life.

How did you wind up at JCC?

My niece used to be in charge of the Senior Olympics there. She kept bugging me to check it out. I’m glad I did.

There seems to be some confusion as to whether the JCC is exclusively kosher or not. Can you set the record straight?

The JCC is not exclusively kosher. Herky’s J Café (located in the Staenberg Family Complex building) is kosher and supervised daily under the Vaad (Hoeir). It is a dairy café. We don’t make any meat on premises – it comes from Kohn’s. My chef works out of the dairy kitchen at Kohn’s and brings the food from there to the café. The concession area (by the outdoor pool) is not under the Vaad, though all the food served is packaged kosher. We also have a catering kitchen (in the Arts and Education Building). If it’s a kosher event, we have it Vaad supervised and the kitchen is first kashered. However, any contracted event there does not have to be kosher. We do have a preferred list of both kosher and non-kosher caterers.

Any changes planned for the fall at Herky’s?

We hope to have seasonal menus. On Wednesday nights we have live music and we’re thinking about doing dinner geared toward singles. We are thinking about a mac and cheese bar as well as a bowl and wrap bar. We also will have longer hours starting mid-September. We’ll be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Because we are kosher, we have to “sell” the café to a non-Jew to stay open on Saturday and no electric is used. It’s all grab and go.

What are some of the challenges you face in your job as catering manager?

Customers wanting cheeseburgers. The challenge is to make people understand we are a dairy kitchen. Although 50 percent of the J’s patronage is non-Jews, many enjoy what we serve and understand what the café is all about. They know we are a healthy venue.


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