Two Israeli chefs based in Houston showcased the flavors and benefits offered by the Mediterranean diet in a cooking workshop organized last month in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the Texan city.
The event, organized by the Consulate General of Israel in Houston and the non-profit BakerRipley, attracted dozens of local families, who were able to make some iconic Israeli preparations under the guidance of chefs Shachar Kurgan and Yotam Dolev and were offered a bag of fresh groceries to bring home and prepare other recipes by themselves.
“It’s our honor and privilege to be able to share our knowledge and give back to the community,” said Kurgan. “The Mediterranean diet, the main cuisine of Israel, is well known for its health benefits; being full of fish, olive oil, lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables.”
The chef explained that Israeli cuisine integrates dishes brought to Israel by Jews across the Diaspora, “like the delicious Charaime fish, for example – a traditional Shabbat dinner course brought by Jews from North Africa, that is rich in flavor, easy to make, and very healthy”.
Indeed, the participants were offered Charaime and shawarma prepared in advance to taste, while worked with the chefs to make tahini, tabbouleh salad and challah.
The chefs also emphasized the affordability of the ingredients used to prepare the dishes.
Consul General to the Southwest Livia Link-Raviv also highlighted the importance of giving back to the community.
“Since there is nothing like food to bring people together, we decided to do something new and different: we partnered with the two amazing Israeli-Houstonians chefs Shachar Kurgan and Yotam Dolev, and held a cooking demo of the Israeli-Mediterranean diet for the under-served families,” she said.
Based in Houston, BakerRipley is one of the largest non-profits in the USA and it focuses on developing and uplifting communities based on their own needs and aspirations.
The event was held in BakerRipley’s Gulfton-Sharpstown Campus, a neighborhood that is home to residents from more than 80 countries.
“Partnering with the Consulate General of Israel to bring this event to our BakerRipley Gulfton Sharpstown Community Center was a great experience,” said Ana Osornio, Senior Manager of Community Centers at the NGO. “We had never hosted this type of event on our campus before and I believe that our community enjoyed it and they were able to learn about a different culture in an interactive and fun way.”
“At BakerRipley one of our goals is to bring experiences to our centers that are diverse and teach our neighbors about different cultures and this event was a great way to do that,” she added.
Attending the event were also Deputy Consul General Elad Shoshan, Cultural Attaché Reut Bonfil, Senior Director of Community Initiatives at BakerRipley Christina Rodriguez, and Manager of Community Development Karla Aguirre.
“It was such a great experience for all of us, cooking together, interacting, and seeing Houstonians enjoying the taste of Israel,” remarked Link-Raviv.