Food and fashion appear to be dominating the Israeli cultural scene of late. Every television channel features food-related programs, and while Gindi Fashion Week prompted TV channels to place greater emphasis on fashion than usual, newspapers and magazines have loads of fashion items; there’s also a special fashion TV channel.

Due to arrive in Israel at the beginning of April is award-winning New York fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger. He is coming for the opening of his flagship store in Tel Aviv’s Sarona project, which has been developed into a contemporary upscale lifestyle center of residential, shopping and cultural facilities. There are already several Tommy Hilfiger stores in Israel, but the one in Sarona is, for the foreseeable future, destined to be the best.

■ AMONG THE guests at the pre-Fashion Week dinner hosted by Italian Ambassador Francesco Maria Talo and his wife, Ornella, were singer Rita and her daughter Meshi Kleinstein.

Guests were so enamored with Meshi that when she sang her moving rendition of Angel, everyone left the table with their desserts unfinished to listen and applaud. Rita, who will be performing at The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York next month, was a very proud mom.

At the dinner table, Angela Missoni, the head designer of the world-renowned company founded by her parents, was seated next to Israeli artist Nir Hod, and as they talked, it transpired that Missoni’s husband had purchased three of Hod’s original works of art from the New York gallery that represents him. This was yet another proof of how small the world has become.

■ APROPOS NEW York, Fern Penn, an American buyer and the proprietor of Rosebud, an Israeli concept store in New York’s Madison Avenue, attended every Fashion Week event – beginning early in the morning and getting back to her hotel at around midnight.

Israeli fashion design has taken an enormous leap forward, she rapturized: “It was everything I expected, and more.”

Penn had a store for several years in the Big Apple’s Soho district, but rental costs became so high that it was impossible to remain there. She now has a store within a store at Koos, the store that belongs to Dutch designer Koos Van Den Akker. Whereas Penn’s section of the store is known as Rosebud at Koos, Penn refers to the overall complex as a “a tale of three cities,” pointing out that the primary owner is Dutch but his designs are all New York-inspired, and everything in her section is Made in Israel.

Penn comes to Israel several times a year to look at new collections and seek out Israeli vintage fashions, especially those that were once in the original Maskit collections. She is no less impressed by the new Maskit, where contemporary designer Sharon Tal – with the moral support of Ruth Dayan, the founder of the original Maskit – has managed to retain the spirit of Maskit while infusing it with her own creativity.

Dayan was honored at Gindi Fashion Week on Wednesday night by a parade of original Maskit creations. Among the models on the runway was Lihi Lapid, the wife of Finance Minister Yair Lapid. Proceeds from the event were earmarked for the neonatal unit at Tel Hashomer’s Sheba Medical Center.

■ DAYAN, WHO celebrated her 97th birthday last week and is still going strong, is one of three recipients of the Rappaport Prize for Women Making a Difference, made annually in conjunction with women’s magazine Laisha. The award ceremony will be held on March 17 at the Tel Aviv Museum.

Other recipients are Shiri Rivkin, founder and CEO of the nonprofit Yedid (Friend); and Keren Shemesh-Perlmutter, who heads Itach-Maki – Women Lawyers for Social Justice. Dayan will receive a life achievement award in recognition of the social welfare projects she has set up over the years, the best-known of which was Maskit – which to a large extent helped preserve the traditional arts and crafts of new immigrants who set up cottage industries, and through Maskit, were able to earn a livelihood.

■ ALSO WITHIN the context of Fashion Week, Amor, whose proprietors Dana Ungar, Miri Habas and Bar Dayan represent Missoni in Israel, celebrated the 20th anniversary of their own fashion enterprise, with a reception that was attended by designers, models and socialites from among Amor’s most loyal clientele.

■ INDIAN AMBASSADOR Jaideep Sarkar, dressed in the traditional garb of his country, launched an Indian culinary competition this week at Tel Aviv’s Lev Cinema, at the screening of the Indian film The Lunchbox – which tells the story of an accidental relationship between two strangers that is kindled due to a rare mix-up by Mumbai’s renowned lunch delivery system.

Refreshments at the event were, of course, traditional Indian snacks and dips, and Sarkar offered a return trip to India for two – with a one-week stay at a luxury hotel, and a dream tour of the country – as the prize in an Indian recipe contest under the heading of “Cooking Indian – Flying to India.” The public will be asked to submit recipes, the best 20 of which will be chosen by famed Indian restaurateur Reena Pushkarna, celebrity chef Jonathan Roshfeld and the ambassador himself. The final stage of the contest will be held at a festive event at the ambassador’s residence in Herzliya Pituah.

■ FOX HOME launched its new “Kitchen with Love” series with a reception at the Ramat Aviv Mall, which was attended by Harel Wizel, proprietor and CEO of Fox Home, together with his executive staff; Liora Ofer, the chair of Melisron, which owns the mall; and of course, celebrity chef Haim Cohen, who was responsible for the sumptuous refreshments served to the invitees.

Looking at the collection of cooking pots, roasting pans, kitchen knives and other kitchenwares, Cohen said that when cooking, he not only likes to use quality food products but also quality kitchen products, and that he was excited by what he had already seen.

■ YET ANOTHER celebrity chef, Assaf Granit of Jerusalem’s Machneyuda, is branching out beyond Israel. Granit, who appears with Roshfeld and Cohen in the TV reality show Chefs’ Games, is opening a restaurant in London on Soho’s Rupert Street, on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue, not far from Piccadilly Circus.

Granit and his partners, Yossi Elad and Uri Navon, together with Moshiko Gamlieli of the Mona restaurant, are teaming up with Layo and Zoe Paskin of London to open a restaurant known as The Palomar, due to be launched in April. People familiar with the area will recognize the address as that of the former Spice Bazaar restaurant. The resident chef will be Tomer Amedi, who is also a noted percussionist, and whose drumming and cooking attracted many patrons to Yudele, one of several popular eateries in Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda. The menu will comprise mainly Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes, with occasional surprises.

The Paskin siblings, who used to own nightclubs in London, have been working in restaurants in Spain and England in order to broaden their managerial, musical and culinary horizons. Layo Paskin is also a well-known DJ.

■ WHILE PAINTING a fence in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Talpiot on Good Deeds Day, President Shimon Peres was asked whether he had done any painting as a young man living on Kibbutz Alumot, which he co-founded in 1941. Peres, who proved to be a dab hand with a brush, replied, “And how. I was also a builder and carried sacks of cement.”

When photographers asked him to turn his head towards the cameras, Peres said: “Don’t disturb me while I’m working.”

■ MANY JOURNALISTS have a pet topic to which they return from time to time. Zvi Zrahiya, who writes for TheMarker, frequently monitors salary hikes and perks of public servants. He did so again this week, noting that with adjustments made in January, 2,045 senior public servants received pay raises that somehow don’t jive with the word “servant.”

In the nature of things, one would expect the prime minister to receive the highest salary, but in fact Binyamin Netanyahu, at NIS 47,096, is third on the totem pole – behind President Peres, whose monthly salary before any extras comes to NIS 54,964, and does not include his entitlement to a senior citizen’s pension from the National Insurance Institute; and Knesset Speaker and former prisoner of Zion Yuli Edelstein, who receives NIS 48,296.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog would probably be earning a lot more than NIS 43,513 had he remained at his prestigious law firm, but had he lost the election for the leadership of the Labor Party, he would be earning the same as other MKs – NIS 38,889.

Finance Minister Lapid, a first-time MK and first-time minister, earns NIS 42,301, which is the same as State Comptroller Joseph Shapira – but less than Supreme Court President Asher D. Grunis, who receives NIS 45,000.

The sum total of increases in salary per annum comes to NIS 17.4 million. Yesh Atid MK Shimon Solomon tried to persuade MKs to sign an amendment calling for a salary freeze, but only 37 of the 120 legislators agreed to do so.

■ BRITISH PRIME Minister David Cameron, who had been warned about possible chaos in the Knesset, said he had learned a new Hebrew word from his ambassador, Matthew Gould, and enunciated the word “balagan,” which is actually a Russian word for “fiasco” or “chaos,” but is used in other Slavic languages, and crept into Hebrew long before the establishment of the state. It’s a word that has not yet been made invalid by a substitute proposed by the Hebrew Language Academy, which is just as well – because it’s too universal to be discarded, and is also an icebreaker.

Apropos Cameron, a photograph of him signing the guestbook at the President’s Residence, which was published in Thursday’s Post, has historic connotations.

The table at which Cameron was seated had once been that of one of Cameron’s predecessors, Benjamin Disraeli, who like Cameron had Jewish antecedents.

■ THE GRAVITY of affairs of state can seldom interfere with a party.

Thus, despite the Knesset chaos and other things that might occupy the attention of the prime minister, the cabinet and the Knesset, there were many well-wishers who came to the farewell party this week of Gil Sheffer, the chief of staff in the Prime Minister’s Office. Sheffer recently resigned after close to five years there.

Ministers, MKs, senior office staff and others with whom he had been in close contact, as well as members of his family, showed up at the Prime Minister’s Office to reminisce, shake Sheffer’s hand and pose for photos with him.

Among those present were Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife, Sara; Ministers Silvan Shalom, Shai Piron, Uri Orbach, Tzipi Livni and Lapid; Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky; Israel Electric Corporation chairman Yiftah Ron-Tal; Mifal Hapayis chairman Uzi Dayan; former justice minister Yaakov Neeman; and many others.

Netanyahu lauded Sheffer as an outstanding individual, with a unique talent for solving problems in the areas of security, economics and coalition stability.

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