Jews like to eat. We all know that. And what better place to eat than the all you can eat buffet. It’s a little slice of Jewish heaven.

Growing up in Rochester New York with its limited kosher options, I didn’t even know what an all you can eat buffet was. So naïve. Until I moved to Israel and found out the exciting news that the Holy Land is full of all you can eat buffets. They’re called hotels.

All conversation must be about the buffet.

Whether over Shabbat, Pesach or any old day of the week, I’ve learn to master the art of the Israeli hotel buffet and I would like to share some of those skills with you. If you haven’t been to Israel, don’t worry, you can apply these techniques to your local kosher buffet.

Eat As Much As You Can

Eat A Lot & Fast

Some hotels only give you two hours. It only takes me five minutes to feel disgusting, but push ahead and load up more. We are committed to the enjoyment of the buffet and getting our more than 200 shekels out of it.

Use Two Plates

Plates can only carry so much. Thus, always bring back two plates to the table. God gave you two hands for a reason. And that reason is so that you can save a trip to the buffet tables.

All Courses Are Meat

Appetizers, entrees, mains, dessert, soup. All of them should be meat. Rarely, have I seen a fish plate brought back to the table. Let me just say that I have met many heavy Jewish people in my life, and not one of them wastes calories. They go straight for the meat.

Bring the Dessert for the Table

I learned this from my aunt. This is a misdirection technique.

You pick it up for yourself, but you realize that you look like an animal with a loaded plate of rugulach, eclairs, chocolate cakes, six different mousses, after telling everybody you’ve been watching yourself. When you get to the table and realize how disgusting you look with a platter in your hands, you say, “This is for the table.” And then you leave the platter right in front of your seat. Don’t pass it around.

Remember: You load up, as you should, and take doubles just in case somebody else at the hotel is hungry and wants mousse as well.

There Are Other People

They’re allowed to eat too. Be prepared for this. I thought that all of this the food was mine. I didn’t realize other people were going to be here. Apparently, the hotel takes money from other people as well. Learn the rules of the buffet.

What You Are Allowed To Say

Traditional Stuff to Say at the Hotel Buffet

“Don’t waste your calories on salads.”

“I am getting more meat.”

“Do you know how much this would cost in a restaurant?!” It is customary to make this statement at the buffet, so you can convince yourself that it is your duty as a fiscally responsible Jewish person to eat more.

Complain After You Eat

After you are finished eating and cannot eat anymore, now it is time to complain. Before you go up for another plate of food make sure to say “I feel disgusting.”

You can also say, “I think I got food poisoning.” This is said because your stomach hurts, and there must be a reason. Always blame the food. Never blame it on the seventh plate you brought to the table.

“The Diet Starts Now”

Don’t say that. It is traditional to say this at the end of every Jewish meal, but don’t ruin the feeling of bloat for the rest of us. Some traditions must stop.

All Conversation Must Be About the Buffet

Words waste food. I came up with that myself. There should be no discussion at the table. Only comments about the food. You only have a couple of hours. That isn’t enough time to finish off eight service stations worth of food. You need to focus.

Comments are fine. However, they must be about the greatness of the meal. A parent asks a kid about school, you refocus the question immediately, with a “Do they serve veal like this in the cafeteria?!” Note how the question itself is a statement.


Next time, we will get involved with the different buffet smuggling techniques such as the napkin wrap and baby carriage fish station push. These and many more techniques will allow you to enjoy the buffet long after you leave the premises.