French chef takes kosher challenge in Jerusalem

'He didn't want to believe that what he had eaten was kosher'


Gourmet Mehadrin
Gourmet Mehadrin
From Buffet magazine

The former head chef at one of the most prestigious restaurants in Paris has teamed up with one of Israel's most famous chefs, creating kosher cooking with a French flavor.

Laurent Delarbre headed up La Tour d'Argent, an historic restaurant in Paris synonymous with quality food, for six years until 2016.

Shalom Kadosh was dubbed the "Kosher Bocuse" by the French food critic Gilles Pudlowski, evoking one of France's most famous chefs Paul Bocuse.

The Israeli chef regularly serves world leaders his famous kosher food cooked according to rules observed by religious Jews. As well as former US president Barack Obama, he once served a meal to ex-French president Jacques Chirac during a visit.

"He didn't want to believe that what he had eaten was kosher," he said.

Yet even for Kadosh, "to receive a chef of this level in my restaurant is an honor," he said of Delarbre.

The two were gathered for the "So French, So Food festival" in Israel, organized by the French embassy.

Kadosh, who calls himself an ambassador of Israeli cuisine across the world, has been working for 40 years at the "Cow on the Roof" restaurant.

It is one of the most famous restaurants in Jerusalem but nowadays its small rooms are open only for special events.

"Rewarding experience"

On two nights this week, the two chefs concocted meals for a range of customers who booked their places in advance.

They were treated to a scrupulously designed Franco-Israeli menu, abiding by Kosher laws, of course.

Delarbre discovered the constraints of the Jewish food system, which forbids the mixing of meat and dairy products in a dish, as well as eating pork, seafood, and some fish.

In the kitchens, he worked alongside Kadosh under the control of an envoy of the Jewish rabbinate who lit the stove, as only a Jew is allowed to do.

"Discovering kosher has been an enriching experience," Delarbre said.

The menu included sea bream tartare accompanied by avocado guacamole, vegetables, sea bass on leeks, smoked lamb chops or chicken breast and several desserts.

It cost 480 shekels (120 euros), including wine.

Nearly 70 years old, Kadosh is "proud to have put the cuisine of my country on the map of world gastronomy."

And he confides to have discovered a new way of using avocados thanks to Delarbre.

"The kosher didn't stop me," Delarbre said.

The two cooks chatted with customers, who captured the moment with selfies.

The festival saw 22 renowned French chefs, some of them Michelin starred, take part in a week of French gastronomy.