Americans believe that the best thing an Israeli can do with a knife is commando operations. This image is about to change soon, when Israeli chefs will be invited to appear on “Iron Chef” and “Chopped”, two prestigious cooking shows watched by hundreds of millions of people across the world.
As part of the efforts to brand Israel in nonconventional ways, it was decided to try to market the country in the US as a culinary power.
The Foreign Ministry and Israeli Consulate in New York have suggested a first-of its-kind collaboration to the most important food channels in the world, Food Network and Cooking Channel.
A representative of the Israeli Consulate in New York met recently with the CEO of the food channels, Brooke Johnson, and asked her if Israeli chefs and Israeli food could be integrated in the channels’ food shows for the first time. Johnson said she would love to host Israeli chefs on her shows.
Omer Miller from the Dining Room restaurant in Tel Aviv and Assaf Granit from Jerusalem’s Mahneyuda restaurant were chosen from of a list of 10 Israeli chefs formed by a committee of experts appointed by the Israeli Consulate in New York. The full list was handed to the channels, which chose the two winners. The Foreign Ministry will finance the chefs’ flights and stay.The episode of “Iron Chef” in which the Israeli chef will appear will be filmed in July.
“I am very excited about being on ‘Iron Chef’,” says Miller, 30. “I watch the show regularly, and it’s a very impressive competition.
“It would be nice if they’d challenge me on the show with a certain kind of vegetable, because we have a huge selection of excellent vegetables in Israel. Eggplant, tomato, onion, hot pepper, even cucumber – you can play with each one of them and prepare interesting things.”
Granit, 32, is very excited too. “I see myself as a representative of the State, and that’s a great honor,” he said.
“Omer and I belong to the new generation of chefs, which is greatly influenced from the older chefs, like Erez Komarovsky and Ezra Kedem, and I hope that sometime we’ll be able to say for certain that there is a thing called an Israeli culinary.
“I love such competitions,” adds Granit. “They bring the best out of me.”
Sources in the Foreign Ministry say many efforts are being made to brand Israel as a culinary power.
Delegations of food and wine reporters are invited to Israel to tour restaurants and wineries – and the articles published so far have given Israeli restaurants a good reputation, with Israeli food being perceived as young, innovative and creative.
Sarit Sardas-Trotino contributed to this report