June 13, 2011 / 11 Sivan 5771
Chefs’ Trip is Part of the Jewish Agency’s Partnership 2000 Initiative
Israel Visit to Include Culinary Tour of Tel Aviv Restaurants, Cooking for IDF Soldiers and Tasting of Special Recipes at Gala Opening of the New Boardwalk in Rosh Ha’ayain
New York, -- Four world-renowned New Orleans chefs, including television celebrity John Besh, will be traveling to Israel between June 23 and 30 as part of the Jewish Agency’s Partnership 2000 (P2K) initiative, which pairs Jewish communities and federations in the United States with “sister” communities in Israel.
The chefs’ visit to Israel will occur in cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Israel’s Ministry of Tourism and the Union of Israeli Chefs. While in Israel, the chefs will tour numerous Tel Aviv restaurants, prepare meals for IDF soldiers stationed on bases in northern Israel, hold cooking classes for aspiring Israeli chefs and cater the gala opening of the Rosh Ha’ayin Boardwalk, where they will present gourmet meals for 10 shekels a dish (approximately $3 USD) to the general public.
Proceeds from the event will be donated to programs in Israel that serve youth-at-risk.
Rosh Ha’ayin and New Orleans are P2K partner cities. The P2K initiative has become the paradigm for successfully connecting Jewish communities and federations worldwide directly with Israeli communities. An extraordinary global platform that includes more than 550 Jewish communities and federations around the world in 47 partnerships with Israeli regions, P2K is building living bridges among Jewish communities in Israel and the Diaspora. More than 350,000 participants from Israel and the overseas Jewish communities take part in some 450 programs each year.
Lea Golan, the Jewish Agency’s Deputy Director-General for Programs said, “The Jewish Agency is always looking for new ways to create interaction between Israelis and our Jewish brethren abroad. It is hard to imagine a more Jewish way of bringing people together than celebrating through food.”
In addition to Besh, who has been ranked by Food and Wine as one of the top ten chefs in the U.S, other chefs in the New Orleans delegation include:
· David Slater, the chef de cuisine at Emeril’s New Orleans
· Alon Shaya, one of Louisiana Cookin’s 2007 “Chefs to Watch”
· Jacques Leonardi, owner and head chef of Jacques-Imo’s Café
Full bios for the chefs are below.To learn more about Partnership 2000 (P2K) please visit: http://www.jewishagency.org/JewishAgency/English/Israel/Partnerships/p2k/
|Director of Communications
||Associate Director, Communications|
John Besh is a chef and a native son dedicated to the culinary riches of southern Louisiana. In his restaurants, entrepreneurial pursuits, and public activities, he preserves and promotes ingredients, techniques, and heritage one mouth-watering dish at a time.
Besh grew up in southern Louisiana and has set the benchmark for fine dining in New Orleans – a town whose identity is bound to its food. Each of his six acclaimed restaurants (August, Besh Steak, Lüke, La Provence, American Sector, and Domenica) celebrates the bounty and traditions of the region.
From the outset of his career, Besh’s talent and drive have earned him continuous kudos: Food & Wine named him one of the “Top 10 Best New Chefs in America” and his flagship restaurant August has featured on the late great Gourmet magazine’s “Guide to America’s Best Restaurants,” and “America’s Top 50 Restaurants.” Local publications keeping close tabs on the dining scene, like The Times-Picayune and New Orleans City Business, have applauded all his other restaurants as they’ve appeared and won the hearts and palates of discriminating diners. He won the James Beard Award for Best Chef of the Southeast in 2006, and was awarded Food Arts’ Silver Spoon Award in 2009 for revitalizing the culinary legacy of New Orleans. John Besh is a frequent guest chef on the NBC Today Show, and has appeared on top programs on The Food Network and the Sundance Channel, as well.
Besh’s devotion to local ingredients and local cuisine also extends to his entrepreneurial projects, including the creation of Besh Restaurant Group Catering; the launch of a line of gourmet products; and the publication of his first cookbook, My New Orleans (Andrews McMeel Publishing, October 2009.) A former U.S. Marine, Besh is proud to have partnered with Baton Rouge-based emergency reconstruction specialists Arkel International, for which he creates high quality ready-to-eat meals for distribution to thousands of emergency response teams and sustained strategic operations in the U.S. and around the world; the novel initiative promotes the Gulf Coast’s food culture as it elevates the Louisiana economy. In recognition of such far-reaching contributions, the Louisiana Restaurant Association named him Restaurateur of the Year in 2008.
Whether served as far afield as North Africa or the Middle East, or by his own hands in one of his New Orleans restaurants, a meal created by John Besh is a thoughtful, flavorful, meaningful delight.
David Slater spent his youth exploring one of the most cosmopolitan and multicultural cities in the world – Toronto, Canada. Food rituals shared by his grandparents would make up the foundation for his lifelong culinary interests. Their Russian and Romanian heritage; the blending of several cultural traditions, would heavily influence his personal style of cooking.
After graduating from the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida in 1998, David arrived in New Orleans, working in the prestigious kitchens of The Windsor Court Hotel and Restaurant Cuvée. In 2001, David joined the Emeril’s family at Emeril’s Orlando, working alongside Emeril’s Culinary Director Bernard Carmouche. In 2003, he was part of the opening team at Emeril’s Atlanta, before returning to Emeril’s New Orleans in 2005 as a Sous Chef.
Forced to evacuate to New York due to Hurricane Katrina, David worked in a number of popular Manhattan restaurants for a few months, until the restoration and reopening of Emeril’s New Orleans in December 2005. David become the Executive Sous Chef under Chef de Cuisine Christopher Lynch in 2007, and assumed full command of the kitchen at Emeril Lagasse’s flagship restaurant in January 2008. With a love of New Orleans food, people and culture, and a true passion for the local bounty available here, he continues to inspire locals and visitors daily with Chef Emeril’s signature “new New Orleans” cuisine.
Alon Shaya -- As a little boy in Philadelphia, Alon Shaya spent most of his time in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother, which instilled in him a passion for cooking. After training at the Culinary Institute of America, Alon interned at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, too young to gamble, but ready to take on the casino kitchens. In 2001, Alon opened Antonio's Ristorante for Harrah's at its casino in St. Louis. It was there that he met Octavio Mantilla, General Manager and Co-Owner of Besh Restaurant Group, who lured him to New Orleans. As Chef de Cuisine at Besh Steak in Harrah's Casino, New Orleans, Alon worked closely with Chef John Besh. In 2007 Louisiana Cookin, showcased him on its cover and in a corresponding feature about five young "Chefs to Watch." Alon and Chef Besh forged a partnership in 2008 and decided to open Domenica, a family-oriented, authentic Italian restaurant in New Orleans Historic Roosevelt Hotel.
Jacques Leonardi -- Raised on a farm in upstate New York by a French mother and an Italian father, Jacques was exposed early to the cuisine of both nationalities and the use of fresh seasonal ingredients. A graduate of the Coast Guard Academy, Jacques fell in love with New Orleans and all it had to offer while stationed in the city. In 1990, he started working at minimum wage for Chef Paul Prudhomme of K-Paul's Lousiana Kitchen while continuing his tenure as a Coast Guard officer. It was at K-Paul's where he learned the basics of "Nawlins" style cooking and laid the groundwork for his own dream: Jacques-Imo's Cafe. In 1996, he purchased the building at 8324 Oak Street in the Riverbend/Carrollton area of Uptown New Orleans. With a little help from the legendary Chef Austin Leslie (formerly of Chez Helene), a little creativity with the food dishes, and a lot of hard work, Jacques now operates one of New Orleans most popular restaurants. Locals and tourists wait up to two hours nightly for a table. The reservation book (for parties of five or more) fills up weeks in advance, and Jacques strolls around his domain talking animatedly to guests and sharing his generosity with both food and drink. In a town that celebrates almost anything, no greater celebration is held than the tribute to Creole/Soul food and warm Southern Hospitality that Jacques Leonardi and the staff at Jacques-Imo's Cafe provides on a daily basis.