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Bistro sues former mashgiach

A Manhattan kosher bistro filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against its former kashrut inspector.The suit filed Monday by Le Marais in New York Supreme Court of Kings County charges that Isaac Bitton defamed it on 66 counts when he posted on his Web site and blog – – that the upscale restaurant’s chef, Mark Hennessy, deliberately sneaked non-kosher food into the kitchen and disobeyed other kashrut standards. Bitton asserted on his site that Hennessy did so because he is a “Jew hater.” The Orthodox Union covered up Hennessy’s indiscretions, according to Bitton, who worked as the restaurant’s mashgiach, or kashrut supervisor, for about two and a half years before quitting his job last week. “The bottom line of this affair is: cowardice of a hashgachah organization scared to take action against a bully jew hater chef (because he has “dirt” on another OU establishment) even if it means to give this chef an open ticket to fool the mashgichim under their noses,” Bitton wrote on his site, which he set up after quitting his job. In a statement posted on its Web site, the Orthodox Union said it had checked out Bitton’s claims assiduously but they did not stand up to scrutiny. Still, the bistro received 20-30 calls since the Web site went online, and suffered a 30 percent slide in business over the weekend, its attorney, Richard Klass, told JTA.