French cuisine is supposedly the best in the world. The French have done a
remarkable marketing job on their cuisine, to the extent that anyone to whom it
doesn’t appeal is reluctant to say so for fear of being classed as a culinary
The French Embassy, in collaboration with the French
Institute, UBIFRANCE – which supplies the French Embassy – along with the French
Embassy’s chef Thibault Bera, is promoting a French culinary festival under the
heading of “So French, So Good.” Twelve celebrated French chefs arrived in
Israel this week to work with Israeli chefs in preparing gastronomic delights
and presenting master classes.
French Ambassador Christophe Bigot thinks
that Bera is the greatest thing since sliced bread – or, in his case, a fresh
baguette. He is going to have a chance to sample not only Bera’s culinary
creativity but also the cuisine of some of France’s best and brightest chefs,
who will cook with local chefs in hotels and restaurants in Tel Aviv and
Jerusalem and will also give master classes to professional Israeli chefs. In
addition, they will participate in a culinary forum in which they will discuss
their favorite topic – food.
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem this week, Elysee
Palace executive chef Guillaume Gomez joined Leonardo Jerusalem Plaza executive
chef Shalom Kadosh in preparing a pre-festival VIP luncheon at which Bigot was
one of the guests. Hotels go through changes of ownership, changes of
management, changes of staff and even changes of name, but one thing that
remains constant at the Plaza is the presence of Shalom Kadosh, who has
weathered every change and remains the No. 1 chef. In fact, he oversees the
cuisine of the whole Leonardo chain.
At the end of the year, the hotel is
set to be renamed Herod’s. A second Herod’s hotel will be built on an adjacent
site, said Jacob Sudri, business development and Jerusalem regional director for
Fattal International Hotels and Resorts, which is the Leonardo and Herod’s
The ever genial David Fattal, who heads Fattal
Hotels, was also at the luncheon, as were visiting chefs and journalists
specializing in food and diplomacy. En route to the hotel, the French chefs
stopped in Sataf to visit the goat farm and taste the cheese produced by Shai
Seltzer and his family and also visited the Castel Winery.
culinary festival is an outcome of an agreement between the Tourism Ministries
of France and Israel as well as the Ministries for Trade and Commerce, said
Lionel Corre, an economic counselor at the French Embassy who credited his
colleague, economic attache Yoan Smadja, with having done most of the arranging.
Smadja said that it was hoped that the festival would become an annual event.
His next challenge, he said, was to persuade Yossi Gal, Israel’s ambassador to
France, to organize for a reciprocal group of Israeli chefs to travel to France
to share their culinary knowledge and creativity with French
Since becoming part of the Fattal chain, the Plaza has
undergone extensive renovations which are continuing. Before the luncheon, many
of the guests were taken upstairs to the 19th floor for a small cocktail
reception in a renovated luxury suite where the balcony looks out over the
magnificent panorama of Jerusalem. Itamar Eichner, diplomatic correspondent for
Yediot Aharonot, said that it was worth coming to Jerusalem just to see the
view, which no one sees from the ground.
Gomez, 34, prepares traditional
French delicacies not only for the president of France but also for all the VIPs
hosted by the president, and is thus responsible for maintaining the reputation
of French cuisine.
He certainly outdid himself with the delicious grouper
filet that he prepared for the third course. He was working not only with
Kadosh, who prepared the second course – a superb fusion of ravioli filled with
Jerusalem artichoke, topped with a cream of soy beans and green peas – but also
with other Israeli celebrity chefs Ezra Kedem, who wore his Cooking for Peace
jacket, Moshe Segev, who prepared the main course of breast of duck in a
palate-tingling wine and citrus sauce and Golan Israeli.
also marked the reopening of the hotel’s legendary Cow on the Roof restaurant,
which was Kadosh’s brainchild and first opened in 1979, raising standards of
kosher cuisine – and the service – to a new level. Haim Avisror, who was a
waiter when the Cow on the Roof first opened and who is now semi-retired, though
well past retirement age, was back in harness at the reopening with the same
He now works two days a week.
continued to operate until around 1993, after which it was closed but its
facilities remained available for special private events. The restaurant has two
dining rooms, one of which is totally private and which contains photographs of
some of the dignitaries who have dined there.
Kadosh appears in most of
the photographs with leading personalities such as King Hussein of Jordan, Queen
Beatrix of the Netherlands, Francois Mitterand, Ezer Weizman, Jacques Chirac,
Henry Kissinger, Jimmy Carter, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, Ariel Sharon,
Helmut Kohl, Shimon Peres, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Binyamin Netanyahu, Al
Gore, Warren Christopher and Condeleeza Rice.
Sudri noted that Kadosh has
so many close connections in the culinary world that he can invite any
top-ranking chef from Europe, the United States or Israel to come cook with him
and no one will refuse. When the chefs emerged from the kitchen to take a bow
just before dessert was served, they were greeted with applause and a rousing
cheer. Next time, said Kadosh to Bigot, “Don’t call it ‘So French, So Good.’
Call it ‘So French, So Very Good!’" ■ WHETHER IT was intentional or otherwise,
Yair Lapid managed to steal some of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s media
limelight on Saturday night by demonstrating yet another of his
Not only is he a journalist, script writer, author, actor,
athlete and television host – he also sings and plays the guitar. He performed a
duet with his good friend, Rami Kleinstein, in the banquet hall of Kibbutz
Netzer Sereni, singing the Beatles hit, “With a Little Help From My
The occasion was the celebration of his Yesh Atid Party’s
triumphant results in the Knesset elections, scoring only one seat less than
Likud. Lapid is not the only musician in his party. Former Shin Bet (Israel
Security Agency) Yaakov Peri head plays the saxophone and Shai Moshe Piron sings
liturgical songs. Both were among the performers, along with professionals such
as Einat Sarrouf, Zeev Nehama and Ethnix and comedienne Adi Ashkenazi, whom
Lapid hosted on his television talk show early in her career. Also singing on
the podium was Lapid’s son, Lior. Presumably, if Lapid joins the coalition
government, he will be invited to the wedding of Tzipi Hotovely, who had her own
celebration that night with the announcement of her engagement. Hotovely will
not have to engage a band to play at her wedding; There’s enough musical talent
in the new Knesset to provide all the entertainment required.
OUTGOING governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer put Israel’s interests
ahead of his own? It should be remembered that Fischer’s actual home and family
are in the United States. While always supportive of Israel, he became an
Israeli citizen only because the law demands that the governor of the Bank of
Israel hold Israeli citizenship. He has made it clear that he will retain his
interest in Israel, but that’s not good enough for a number of Israeli citizens,
most of whom also hold American citizenship.
A petition initiated by
blogger Sherwin Pomerantz and currently circulating via the Internet urges
Fischer to reconsider his decision to resign and to remain at his post until the
end of his term in 2015. The petition outlines Fischer’s invaluable contribution
to economic stability and notes that “At this critical time in the history of
Israel, when countries worldwide seek to isolate us from the world community, it
is critical that we have as many competent, statesmanlike individuals in
important positions who can provide the credibility needed in such forums which
is critical to our long term viability.”
IN A span of more than three
decades, Hillary Clinton visited Israel in a number of capacities, most recently
as US secretary of state, a title that she held until last month.
first visit to Israel in that capacity in March,2009, her round of meetings
included one with President Shimon Peres, whom she probably knows longer than
any other Israeli officials she’s met over the years. The mutual affection was
palpable and expressed by both in their statements to the media. When Peres
greeted her, he not only kissed her cheek but also presented her with a bouquet
of flowers. Last week, he wrote a moving letter to her, acknowledging all that
she had done to make the world – and especially Israel – a better
Who knows, in four years he may be writing to her again to
congratulate her on becoming the first woman president of the United States. Of
course we don’t know in what capacity Peres himself may be writing then. When he
was meeting last week with political party delegations, each of which was asked
by the media before Peres came into the room who they were recommending to form
a government, Raam Taal MK Ahmed Tibi, with a twinkle in his eye replied,
“Shimon Peres.” In the end, noone was proposed by the Arab parties, leaving the
field wide open for only one candidate, which Tibi termed “Israel’s Greek
tragedy.” During Raam Taal’s meeting with Peres, the president commiserated with
the group that it had one seat less than it had in the 18th Knesset. “The
soldiers didn’t vote for us,” said Ibrahim Sansour.
“Maybe they will when
I’m prime minister,” quipped Tibi with a grin.
■ NO ONE can claim that
the life of a president or a prime minister is boring.
The variety of
events that they have to attend in any given week – or sometimes any given day –
boggles the mind. For instance, tomorrow, within the space of less than two
hours, Peres will have two vastly different experiences: At the Gesher Theater
in Jaffa he will receive the Man of the Decade award from Channel 9, the
Russian-language media outlet that is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The
event, which will include entertainment and speeches, will be attended by
politicians, Russian Ambassador Sergey Yakovlev, public figures and leading
representatives of the arts from Israel and abroad. From there Peres will make
his way to the Nokia Stadium to watch the the national basketball cup finals and
will present the trophy to the winning team – which is one of his presidential
■ A FORMER cousin by marriage who loves to collect internet
oddities and pass them on to relatives and friends sent an item about US
president Harry Truman, who is important to Israelis because he was president
when the State of Israel was born and, though initially reluctant, certainly had
a hand in its birth. The Internet item does not relate to his political career,
but to the man himself. With the formal installation this week of the 19th
Knesset and negotiations under way toward a coalition government, it would be
wise if our 120 legislators stopped for a minute to be inspired by
The only asset that Harry Truman had when he died was the house
he had lived in, in Independence, Missouri. His wife, Bess, had inherited the
house from her parents, and other than their period in the White House when he
was president, the Trumans lived there for their entire married lives. When he
retired from office in 1942, Truman’s income was reported to have been
$13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his own stamps,
granted him a retroactive pension of $25,000 a year.
As is customary in
the United States, former presidents attend the inauguration ceremonies of their
successors. Following the inauguration of president Dwight D.
Harry and Bess Truman drove home to Missouri by themselves without being
accompanied by Secret Service agents. When offered corporate positions by
prestige companies, Truman declined saying, “You don't want me. You want the
office of the president, and that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the people
of the United States and it’s not for sale.” In May 1971, when Congress was
preparing to give him the Congressional Medal of Honor for his 87th birthday,
Truman refused, writing, “I don't consider that I have done anything which
should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise.”
president, Truman paid for all his own travel expenses and for food. Modern
politicians have found a new level of cashing in on the presidency, resulting in
untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite
wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Truman may have been correct
when he said, “My choices in life were either to become a piano player in a
whore house or to become a politician, and to tell the truth, there’s hardly any
■ THE WORD is out that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in
a bid to appease disgruntled Likud politicians who held portfolios in his
previous government but are less likely to have the title of “minister “this
time around, is going to offer them plum ambassadorial positions. Asked his
opinion about such a move by Israel Radio’s Oren Nahari, outgoing Deputy Foreign
Minister Danny Ayalon, who went in the opposite direction – from diplomacy to
politics – did not rule out the wisdom of such a move, saying that a really good
diplomat must also be a good politician.
Of course, it is important to
learn the language and the customs of the country to which one is assigned, but
there is no reason that a politician can’t be a diplomat, he said. There have
been some politicians who have been very good diplomats, he observed, and others
who’ve been very bad diplomats. There’s no hard and fast rule.
One of the
most broadly knowledgeable anchors on radio and television, Nahari is far from
being a typical abrasive Sabra. He is unfailingly polite and manages, without
being aggressive or patronizing, to get interviewees to reveal much more than
they intended. And no, he doesn’t come from British stock from which he might
have learned his good manners. His forebears were among the founders of Rosh
■ VETERAN BRITISH immigrant Samuel Lewis, who is chairman of the
Israel branch of the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women was happy to
this week to welcome a 15-member AJEX mission from the UK that includes Jeffrey
Fox, the national chairman of AJEX from Newcastleupon- Tyne and AJEX executive
director Jacques Weiser. The group met with British Ambassador Matthew Gould and
with various current and retired IDF officers. Tomorrow they will participate in
a memorial ceremony for fallen comrades-in-arms at the Commonwealth War Graves
Commission Cemetery on Mount Scopus in the presence of British Defense Attache
Colonel Philip Stack MBE.
■ WHEN TELEVISION was first launched, there was
a fear that people would stop going to movies. Then, when computers and their
applications became more advanced, there was a fear that people would stop
buying television sets. But most people prefer big screens to small screens and
while there was indeed a period – certainly in Israel – in which many movie
theaters were closed down, there is now a turn-around with more movie theaters
Pioneers in the resurgence of movie theaters are brothers
Leon and Moshe Edry, whose Cinema City chain is spreading far and wide. Their
Cinema City Glilot flagship is undergoing renovation and expansion at an
investment of NIS 150 million. When the improvements are completed, the cinema
bank will have been increased by nine additional theaters plus a much larger
auditorium with seating capacity for 1,000 people. The cinema city concept has
come a long away since it was first launched in Israel in 2002 and, according to
Leon Edry, is aiming for much higher standards based on-ever advancing
technology over the coming decade.
Edry is very proud of the fact that he
and his brother were the first to introduce the cinema city concept to Israel,
giving viewers multiple choices under one roof. Now that Israel’s film industry
is flourishing, he said, there will be more screenings of local films alongside
imported productions. The improvement and expansion plan will be carried out on
a gradual basis so as not to interfere with the general operations of Cinema
City. At the same time, the chain is completing additional Cinema Cities in
Jerusalem and Kfar Saba, which should be open to the public some time in 2013,
and is in the process of constructing Cinema Cities in Hadera, Netanya and
Beersheba, scheduled to open in 2014.
■ SENIOR SPACE agency and space
communication representatives who had participated in the International Space
Conference in Herzliya were hosted by US Ambassador Dan Shapiro at a reception
that he held at his residence in Herzliya Pituah.
Among those attending
were Rona Ramon, the widow of Israel’s pioneer astronaut Ilan Ramon; Yossi
Weiss, CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries; Shaul Elovich, who heads Eurocom
Israel's largest privately owned communications company, David Pollak, CEO of
Space Communications; and NASA administrator Charles Bolden.
recently entered into an agreement with Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Space
Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), to launch Spacecom’s AMOS-6 satellite on
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle. Falcon 9 will insert the communications
satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO), further enhancing
Spacecom’s existing satellite fleet. The AMOS-6 satellite, to be built by Israel
Aerospace Industries (IAI), will provide communication services including direct
satellite home Internet for Africa, the Middle East and Europe. AMOS- 6 will
replace AMOS-2, which is expected to end its service in 2016. The AMOS-6 mission
hopes to launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida sometime in 2015.
the end of the evening, Bolden, who is a veteran astronaut, presented Shapiro
with the tag he had worn during the 1986 Columbia space flight.
NO age limit on romance; certainly not as far as Miriam Milshtok and Yigal
Arieli are concerned. He celebrated his 100th birthday on December 25. She’s 95.
They’ve been a couple for 17 years.
They met at Beit Gil Hazahav in Tel
Aviv, an upscale retirement home that provides numerous activities for its
residents. Miriam moved in following the death of her husband.
was a devoted husband, moved in along with his wife when he could no longer care
for her alone.
One day, following a fitness class, Miriam bumped into
Yigal. He thought that he recognized her as a former schoolmate from the
Gymnasia Herzliya. She told him that he was mistaken – she had been educated in
Czechoslovakia – but they kept talking. Yigal asked her if she could read
Hebrew. Not very well, she confessed.
Nonetheless, he gave her a book of
stories that he had written. She read it and thoroughly enjoyed it. Later they
met again, discussed the contents and one subject led to another. They
discovered in the course of conversation that they both had a mutual passion for
the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and went to a concert together.
the first of many. They also discovered other shared interests and soon became
Some 250 people from Israel and abroad congregated at Beit
Gil Hazahav to celebrate Yigal’s centenary. Among them was Tzipi Livni, whose
late mother, Sara, was also a resident there and had been a close friend to
Yigal and Miriam. Congratulatory messages from President Shimon Peres and Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu were read and Livni made a speech.
still has a full head of hair and all his faculties. He attends numerous courses
and, until recently, engaged in daily workouts and was a spry figure on the
House singer Ida Ben-Ami and the Beit Gil Hazahav choir
serenaded him on his birthday and hope to do so again this
Meanwhile, he’s still attending lectures and courses and