The atmosphere was warm and convivial as guests met and mingled in the garden of the Mazal Taleh Villa in Tel Aviv’s Exhibition Grounds last week. As they sipped wine and sampled canapes that disappeared from the plates faster than the servers could pass them around, anticipation mounted for the tantalizing evening that lay ahead.Inside, the large dining room was being set up with a series of stations to showcase select dishes prepared by five of Israel’s leading chefs.As the guests began to stream into the hall, the host advised them to take their time and savor each dish, as it was going to be a long and event-filled evening.Thus began Cooking with Soul, the gala fund-raiser for Life’sDoor/Tishkofet-Maagan, the Jerusalem-based support center for people and their families facing serious illness. Hosted by Jerusalemite co-founders Ben and Dvora Corn, the event more than lived up to their expectations. For one thing, the attendance exceeded their anticipations. As Dr. Ben Corn told the 550 guests, they had overbooked the event, as experience had shown that the number of people of who reserve a space is always lower than the number of people who actually attend. But in this case, he marveled, they had more participants than they’d expected. But then again, he reasoned, he should have known. The combination of Jews and food is a certain recipe for success, he quipped.And successful recipes there were. The individual stations around the room each offered two kosher dishes created by one of the featured master chefs – Israel Aharoni, Mika Sharon, Yaron Kestenbaum, Omer Miller and Ezra Kedem – who had volunteered their time and skills for the evening. The chefs were on hand to describe their dishes and explain how they had been prepared. Guests stood in line at each station to sample the various culinary delights, which they took to the small round tables in the dining hall or out to the tables in the garden.For the event, Aharoni prepared sardines and roasted tomatoes; and chicken breast glazed with pomegranate concentrate. Kedem offered cold fish with sea asparagus and olive oil. Sharon served up sirloin roast in an herb crust, as well as pumpkin puree with candied pecans. Kestenbaum offered bouillabaisse and zucchini carpaccio, while Miller prepared beef stew in a bowl and beef/chicken shwarma in pita. In addition, a wine sommelier was available to describe the variety and taste of the wines that were served and to explain how to pair them with the dishes. As the food and wine flowed, the guests were entertained by jazz singer Yehudit Goldfarb and DJ Shay Goldberg.During the course of the evening a film was presented, which showed a glimpse of the work that Tishkofet does to help patients and their families face the emotional challenges of serious illness. With that in mind, an exciting auction was held to up the ante of the event. The first set of lots up for bid was a dinner for 10 prepared in your home by one of the chefs. The bidding was lively, and the results were impressive. A dinner by Kedem garnered NIS 4,000. A culinary evening with Miller earned NIS 6,000, while Sharon’s time and talent were sold for NIS 8,000. Aharoni took the cake in that category at NIS 10,000. Next under the hammer was a day with Zvika Hadar on the set of the TV show Kochav Nolad (A Star Is Born), which garnered a tidy NIS 3,000. But the icing on the cake was a day with basketball superstar Omri Casspi, which went to the highest bidder at NIS 12,000.Overall, the organization raised more than NIS 500,000 through the auction, tickets for the dinner and additional donations, all of which goes toward supporting the programs for Tishkofet’s clientele throughout Israel.As the guests left the party that evening, filled with good food and good feelings, each was given a white canvas gift bag that contained a full-length apron and a cookbook entitled Cooking with Soul, which included the recipes they had just enjoyed.The whole event was well thought out and presented in very good taste.