Two disgruntled employees crashed their boss’ press conference Wednesday to defend their lawsuit, alleging that he ordered the preparation of distinctly non-kosher food in kosher kitchens. Flanked by rabbis, attorneys and catering company officials, Morrell Caterers owner Scott Morrell called the accusations a “conspiracy.”
"I am participating in a news conference where I not only reaffirm my integrity as a Glatt kosher caterer but remind friend and foe alike that I will not be extorted, intimidated or bullied by a lawyer who seeks to destroy my business by filing charges against me,” said Morrell.
"Those of you who have worked with me over the decades know of my family's commitment to observing the strictest instructions of Kashrut. You also know that I take my responsibility to the Jewish community as a solemn promise to deliver excellence with every meal. There is no price that can be attached to that trust and I will not allow my family's heritage to be tarnished by a terror attack on my company.”
Chef Michael Savitsky and general manager Tom Cataldo crashed the press conference to defend their lawsuit. Savitsky and Cataldo both claimed that Morrell instructed his workers to prepare nonkosher meals in kosher kitchens in order to save money.
Savitsky related a particular incident in which Morrell told him to cook coconut shrimp in a kosher kitchen. He said he was shocked by the order, but "he was my boss, so what was I supposed to do?"
The lawsuit alleges that Morrell Caterers expanded to serving non-Jewish clients in September 2010. Savitsky and Cataldo said they were told to cook shrimp, lobster and pork in kosher facilities, using kosher plates and utensils. The non-kosher food was even delivered in the same truck as the kosher products.
The pair estimated at least 200 weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs and other events were tainted by these practices. "As times got rough, business was down a bit due to several factors, there was another way to bring in additional revenue," Cataldo said. "Unfortunately this was the shortcut that Mr. Morrell started to take."
Cataldo added, "It all comes down to dollars and cents with him, that's the bottom line. He sold himself out for a couple of extra dollars."
In contrast, Morrell claims that Savitsky and Cataldo were paid to discredit him by a third party that Morrell is suing.
"Mr. Howard Fensterman is the defendant in a massive $19 million fraud case that poured millions of dollars into a Dubai insurance scam,” Morrell related. “Many are suing him but I am the only one who is not a powerful figure in the investment community. As a result he is going after someone he views as vulnerable.”
"This is a very calculated and cynical deliberate way of destroying my company," Morrell told reporters. "In the days and weeks to come I will continue to refute these lies and seek damages for an overseas investment scam worthy of Madoff," he concluded.
After the conference Morrell distributed kosher chicken fingers to the press present. But, according to the AP, nobody was biting.