Gastric Grace

Alongside the half-dozen national kosher certifying organizations are a number of local ones, which certify primarily local food shops, restaurants and hotels. Kosher Supervision of America, founded six years ago by Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon, certifies foods in Southern California, including many items found at the Southland's many Jewish supermarkets and traditional Jewish restaurants.

Kosher establishments are not necessarily obvious. If you've dined at the Four Seasons Hotel, the Ritz Carlton, the Beverly Hills Hotel or Loew's Santa Monica Beach Hotel, you may well have eaten kosher, says Lisbon. If you've eaten at La Gondola Restaurant Italiano, Chick'n Chow Chinese food, Kabob Persian Food or Del Corazon Mexican Restaurant, you've probably eaten kosher.

Lisbon says he goes to his job believing that the quickest route to a man's God is through his stomach. And so, rather than helping shoppers save mere cents on the dollar, he hopes to help them save their souls. Given the increasing number of kosher wines on the market, including some decent Cabernets, Lisbon concedes that it's possible to listen to what God said and get tipsy at the same time.

Either way, says Lisbon, he is selling a divine gastrointestinal experience.

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