Chefs for Peace, a new nonprofit organization established by a group of Christian, Muslim and Jewish chefs will be holding its first event, a gala dinner, next Saturday night at the Notre Dame monastery in Jerusalem. Food served will be in an eclectic, nouvelle-Mediterranean style, and the menu includes, among other dishes, arrak and almond aperitifs, tuna in cilantro dressing, apricots stuffed with goat cheese, terrine of chickpeas with parsley sauce, watermelon soup, carambola sorbet, stuffed lamb cutlets on a bed of couscous, fresh fish and array of deserts.
The chefs behind the undertaking are all Israelis and met as coparticipants in activities of Slow Food, the Italian-based natural food movement, and remained in contact even as political events spun out of control in the last year. Chefs for Peace was established in January, 2002, at the height of the intifada, and was born out of close personal ties between the chefs. "We all get along well in the kitchen, even though we've all got knives in our hands," explains one of the founders, chef Avner Niv. "We have no problems understanding each other. When all the unrest began, our relationships continued. Either I'd be calling someone up to see if he made it through the roadblock alright, or someone would call me up, and throughout, we always gathered to eat food together, each time at someone else's house. About half a year ago we began to think, if we manage to get along like this, why not make turn it into something formal? Why not show that you can actually work together?"
Saturday night, Avner Niv and Anat Lev-Ari, of Louisa, a Jerusalem catering company, will be in the kitchen alongside chefs Ibrahim Abu-Shir, Yacob Slavis, Joseph Asfour, and Peter Korpiatis of the Notre Dame restaurant, and Yossi Elad of Mitzpeh Mesuah. The group has received a number of invitations to participate in international gastronomic events since its founding, a number of which were canceled following the beginning of Operation Defensive Shield. Despite the diverse national and ethnic origin of the chefs, an invitation to participate at a Stockholm food festival was recently withdrawn, according to Niv, "because Israel's reputation in the world right now has hit rock bottom. There's an atmosphere of boycott."
The gala dinner will take place at the restaurant of the Monastery of Notre Dame on route 1 directly across from the Old City's New Gate on Saturday, May 11 at 8 P.M. For reservations, call Chef Kevork Alemian at (02) 6279179. The meal costs NIS 190 per person.