Leading chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants are arriving in Israel this week to participate in a fundraiser for Ezrat Avot, an association providing for Jerusalem’s elderly population.
The fundraiser was initiated after the construction of a health and life enrichment center in the city for needy senior citizens was halted due to lack of budget.
Chef Shalom Kadosh of the Fattal Hotels chain decided to help out and sponsor a special culinary event which will be held Thursday with chefs from around the world, who will cook a gourmet dinner together with Israeli chefs.
The funds raised at the event will be dedicated to the completion of the Jerusalem center.
Chefs Marc Haeberlin and Philippe Legendre from France, German chef Harald Wohlfahrt and Israeli chef Moshik Roth from Amsterdam, who share several Michelin stars, will be joined by Israeli chefs Aviv Moshe, Golan Gurfinkel, Yoram Nitzan, Meir Adoni, Mika Sharon, Ezra Kedem, Segev Moshe and Eran Schwartzbard.
The event will be held at the renovated Cardo hall at Jerusalem’s Leonardo Plaza Hotel and will be hosted by writer Hanoch Daum. It will also be attended by the prime minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, who has been aiding the Ezrat Avot association.
Israeli company White Innovation is currently developing an entirely new and remarkably fast way to prepare food from the comfort of your kitchen, Israel’s Channel 10 reported on Saturday.
Its product, known as “Ginny”, is essentially a souped-up printer that is small enough to fit on any counter. To create a meal one places a capsule of raw ingredients into one side of the machine. Then, olive oil, milk or water is injected. It then marinates for about thirty seconds and voila: a delectable feast awaits.
The developers behind Ginny claim that printed food has, “tremendous potential as a way to eat cheaper and healthier.” In theory, products like Ginny could revolutionize the food market, Channel 10 said. However, the vast potential is currently only on paper as Ginny is still undergoing a final series of tweaks before making a public debut.
Recently, the device was put to the ultimate test when acclaimed Israeli chef Israel Aharoni was invited to sample the printed food. While Aharoni came away impressed, he does not think Ginny will replace homemade cooking anytime soon. Rather, he sees it as a valuable addition to culinary innovation.
Having nibbled on some of the food, the veteran cuisinier noted that all the foodstuffs he tasted, “Were not completely accurate [representations of the original] and had a uniform texture. However, each item had its own distinct flavor. I believe that [Ginny] is the beginning of a very interesting process and I’m curious to know where it will lead.”
Watch a report (Hebrew) on printed food below:
From chocolate shwarmas and kebabs, to chocolate jewelry, sculptures, and even a chocolate spa, the chocolate festival took place at Jaffa’s old train station in Neveh Tzedek.
The three-day festival, which began on Thursday, February 13, featured top Israeli chocolatiers and chocolate-makers from across the country, and an array of chocolate-related activities for visitors of all ages including chocolate sushi-making. Organized by Yael Rose, an Israeli living in London who has facilitated chocolate festivals across the United Kingdom for years, the Israeli festival attracted some 20,000 people this year.
“We took three things into consideration when organizing this year’s festival,” Eran Levy-Zaks, the press consultant for the festival, told Tazpit News Agency. “We had to choose a time when the Middle Eastern climate was conducive to chocolates – the cool weather in February is always great. And with Valentine’s Day and the general fact that Israelis love festivals, we decided that this was the time to do it.”
While the chocolate industry is not a large one in Israel, people traveled both near and far to attend the second annual Chocolate Festival. The chocolate stalls during the festival were packed and even the rain didn’t keep too many people away.
Full story via: The Algemeiner
Cockroaches, rodents and customers seem to be the three least-wanted guests in restaurant kitchens. But quite a few Tel Aviv restaurants have begun allowing customers into their kitchens and even letting them do some of the cooking as part of Chef for a Day, in which restaurants allow a guest to arrive in the morning, run the kitchen, chop and cook, and even fill the restaurant with friends to enjoy his cooking.
Customer-run evenings of this kind have already been held at Wine Bar, Cordovero, Cucina Tamar and Baccio. The guests have included ambassadors, architects, tourists, artists, fishermen and a few amateur chefs who always dreamed of having their own restaurants.
Tamar Cohen-Zedek, the owner of Cucina Tamar, says that so far she has hosted two members of the band Electra and Meir Aharonson, the chief curator of the Museum of Israeli Art in Ramat Gan, who prepared an evening of Italian cuisine. “It was lovely for us, and also for the people who were hosted in the kitchen. They are home chefs, customers or friends who love the restaurant and know it well.”
But the events present quite a few challenges. “It was a huge amount of work for me,” Cohen-Zedek says. “Every week I had to build the menu from scratch, meet with people, buy ingredients. And they got excited and called me every day before their evening. Those two months were extremely intense. When I’m building the menu, everybody has the dishes that they prepare at home and think are the best ones. They won’t always be at restaurant level. It was difficult for them as well − suddenly they found out how many hours they had to be on their feet, and afterward they had to host people, too. At the end of a day like that, they asked: How do you do that every day?”
Gedera 26 has already held five such evenings. Last week, the guest was director Uri Dagan, the owner of the ZeeK film production company. Dagan, a frequent customer, has known the owner, Amir Kronberg, since they were children in Jerusalem. “It fulfills the fantasy I had to be a chef,” he says. “I cook a lot at home and host meals every Friday. Cooking is a part of who I am, part of being a creative and creating person.”
At home, Dagan prefers to prepare simple meals such as meatballs, stews and cholent in winter. But for this special evening, he wants to challenge himself. “Over the past few weeks, I did a marathon of experiments with dishes that I’m going to prepare this evening. There were a few spectacular failures, and I drew the appropriate conclusions. I feel comfortable with the menu we’ve put together,” he says. His menu includes Austrian chicken soup and pancake strips, oysters, ceviche in rice paper, quinoa and tofu salad, filet of mullet in pistachio sauce, and pappardelle in lamb confit and tomato sauce.
“Evenings like this are even better because we host people for whom this is their dream,” Kronberg says, “not someone who comes for another day of work with all his mannerisms. That happens in a lot of places, and it’s not at all what I’m after.”
The mother-in-law’s verdict
It is still morning. After finishing the menu for the evening, they sipped coffee and headed out to the Carmel market. There, Kronberg introduced Dagan to his butcher, stopped off at the Asian grocery and visited the stalls selling vegetables, fish and spices. They went on a desperate search for fava beans and snacked on burekas as the egg yolks dripped onto their shirts, and they were content. “I feel like I’m in the amusement park,” Dagan said. “I don’t know whether my food is worthy of a restaurant, and I want to prove that it is. There’s one dish on the menu, the chicken in tomatoes, that is a kind of gesture to my mother. It’s a dish I remember from my childhood, when my mother was alive, and I felt I wanted to include that memory.”
Three hours after he went into the kitchen and worked hard alongside the cooks, Dagan allowed himself to complain. “I’ve been working non-stop since 12 O’clock, busting my butt. I was promised countless staff, but I found myself peeling carrots, Jerusalem artichokes and sweet potatoes, and chopping garlic and herbs. I’m preparing 13 dishes that have to be up to restaurant standard. But soon, my adrenaline will kick in again and I’ll be able to get up the strength to prepare the rest of the dishes. Now the kitchen staff is getting everything ready again, and then we’ll go back into battle.”
Amir joins in, and they agree that all they have left to do is roast sunflower seeds and put them in the oven, peel avocados, fry chicken wings, skewer beef, spice and cook quinoa, cook pasta, rice and potatoes in the oven, and reduce the pear sauce for the tarts. “Piece of cake,” they say, and Dagan is dragged back into the kitchen.
At 7:30 P.M., the restaurant is full. After handshakes and hugs, the orders start arriving. On such a wintry, family-friendly evening, the most popular first course is the Austrian chicken soup and pancake strips. Uri wears a white chef’s hat and a starched cook’s uniform. His family sits around a table opposite the open door to the kitchen, looking fascinated by what’s happening.
“It’s stressful to look around and see a restaurant full of people eating my food,” says Uri. “I’m less than pleased with the way some of the dishes came out. The soup, for example. I’m pleased with the rest. I worked like a horse, cutting and chopping and mixing, preparing sauces, getting screamed at and tyrannized, and now they’re serving me wine,” he says with a satisfied smile.
When his uncle asks for a picture with the chef, Uri comes out of the kitchen for him. He walks around, apologizing for the soup, and his family encourages him. In the meantime, the other cooks are working. One prepares filet of mullet in pistachio sauce alongside potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes. Another takes out a skewer of beef rump in chimichurri sauce. A Clash tune plays in the background, and the cooks work to the rhythm, throwing pullet paella into a frying pan and heating up pappardelle in lamb confit.
The dishes stream out of the kitchen as Uri meets more old friends. “I haven’t even tasted some of the dishes yet. They were put together here for the first time when customers ordered them,” he says. “I’m very curious to know what people really think, but I realize that they won’t tell me the truth.”
So what did the guests really think of the food? It seems that only one opinion counts. “In articles like these, the most important thing is to ask the mother-in-law what she thinks about the food,” says Uri’s mother-in-law, who enjoyed every moment.
No Israeli can stomach being a freier – a sucker – and this may be why Israel has become the unlikely locus of worldwide interest in vegan cuisine, says food writer, critic and chef Ori Shavit, who switched from passionate omnivore to passionate vegan a few years ago.
Shavit is the popular face of this no-animal-products dietary revolution in Israel, with her website Vegans on Top, articles and media appearances. But the change is driven by growing challenges to long-held assumptions about health, environmentalism and animal welfare.
“For Israelis, it’s very important to know that no one is bluffing you,” Shavit tells ISRAEL21c.
“If you have been told all your life that you have to eat three dairy products per day, and then you see an exposé about what’s really going on in the dairy industry – or in slaughterhouses or the egg industry — you will realize the lies you’ve been told about your health and animal treatment. Then you can make a real choice.”
Shavit is one of an estimated 200,000 vegans in Israel, out of a population of eight million. Recently, the Israeli organization Vegan Friendly led a successful campaign to persuade Domino’s Pizza to add a vegan option to its Israeli stores’ menu. Other chains, from ice-cream shops to cafés, are following suit.
Vegan Friendly’s Omri Paz recently stated that “Israel is leading the vegan revolution around the world.”
That’s not to say most Israelis, or anybody else, are likely to give up eggs and steak forever. But Antonia Molloy, in the UK newspaper The Independent, writes: “2014 could be the year that veganism – often viewed as the preserve of hippies, animal activists and health obsessives – stops being a niche dietary choice and gains new followers.”
In Israel, this means not only more vegan restaurants such as Tel Aviv’s Vegan Shawarma and Buddha Burger, but a mainstream cultural shift.
“Israel is a young country, and we come from all different cultures, so people are more open-minded,” says Shavit. “They are looking for something new, in technology and in food. So this revolution landed in the right place.”
She pinpoints the breakout of this revolution – and her own switchover — to about three years ago, when two Israelis translated the widely viewed YouTube lectures on veganism by American animal-rights activist Gary Yourofsky.
“That started the momentum,” she says. “The vegans were on the fringe of Israeli society until then. People like me suddenly became vegan, and I am the mainstream of the mainstream. I wanted to stay normal and choose to live a normal life but still be vegan. I discovered a lot of people want the same thing.”
Shavit fields frequent requests to help restaurants develop animal-free options. The vegan breakfast at Aroma, Israel’s largest coffee chain with 130 branches, includes a chickpea-flour-and-tofu “omelet” that Shavit had a hand in creating.
“This is not just a Tel Aviv trend for rich people,” declares Shavit, the featured speaker at a January press conference announcing the new vegan menu at the 30-branch Landver café chain.
“Restaurants are putting vegan dishes on the menu and marking those dishes so they’re easy to find, so as a customer I will feel welcomed and normal. What is going on here is really remarkable. I don’t think this took hold so quickly and intensely in any other place in the world.”
Café Greg spokeswoman Anat Davis says the chain introduced vegan (in Hebrew, “tivoni”) dishes at many of its 86 branches due to demand. “Our priority is that everyone can come here and find something to eat and enjoy,” she tells ISRAEL21c.
One of several options is Legume Salad — bulgur, lentils, quinoa and baked sweet potato cubes with cucumber, tomato, pepper, onion, parsley and mint, seasoned with olive oil, lemon and date syrup and served with bread and tahini.
Shavit offers an English-language restaurant guide on where to find such dishes because “Israel today is a destination for vegan tourists,” she says. “The next thing should be promoting veganism in hotel chains, and I am working on this.”
When the vegan actress Mayim Bialik was heading to Israel over winter break, she blogged: “The best hummus in the world is to be found in Israel. … We will eat lots of it.”
The Tel Aviv Farmers Market lets farmers from across Israel showcase and test their new brands and varieties to the public once a week.
The market was founded by Shir Halpern and Michal Ansky, best known from reality show “Master Chef,” to bring to Israel a tradition which is already well established in many countries of the world.
“In the Tel Aviv Farmers Market we bring the Israeli customer things he can’t find in a supermarket, for example colored watermelon,” Halpern explains. “They are all new Israeli developments of agriculture. This is what we call bio-diversity; it’s bringing the culture of food, culture of agriculture, new flavors, new developments.
“You always come here discovering new things, discovering new varieties that you can’t find in a supermarket, you can’t find anywhere else. You need to be a bit gutsy because it’s nothing like you’ve seen. You can find purple potatoes, you can find 15 kinds of cherry tomatoes, you can find fresh carrots and colored carrots.
“This is really all about localism, it’s all about seasonality, it’s all about re-discovering.”
We talked to some of the farmers at the market to find out about the new varieties of fruits and vegetables they are introducing to the Israeli public.
“Here you can find some new cherry varieties, mini-plum and plum tomatoes,” says Yakobi Cohen of Tomatec. “We have yellow tomatoes, we have pink tomatoes, and the most important thing is that these tomatoes have a very good taste, a sweet taste. They have five times more lycopene and vitamin A.”
“The Snake eggplant is a really amazing eggplant,” says Ori Greenpeterof Moshav Mishmeret. “It has this creamy texture and it’s not bitter at all. It’s really tasty and a lot of people love to put it on a wok or put it in all kinds of stews. It goes really well with some salt and olive oil in the oven. It’s an Israeli development and people love it here. Everyone who buys it just comes back and says, ‘Give me more.’”
Chef Eyal Lavi of the Rokach Market restaurant explains how being located right at the market gives his establishment an edge over the competition.
“It’s a game that we come every morning and we see what’s new in the market and we change the menu according to the season, according to new vegetable, fruits or things that we find,” he says. “We’re exposed to new species, new materials, new fruits. It’s very interesting and for me as a chef and for my staff, we have the opportunity to touch, to cook, to create new things, and it’s great.”
Some of those original Israeli fruits and vegetable are now in their testing stages. Once they’ll be bred commercially, expect to find them at a grocery store near you.