US Chefs to Cook It Up in Israel

Four world-renowned chefs from New Orleans, including John Besh, will cook it up in Israel in a Jewish Agency “sister city” tour. Strictly kosher.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 10:36 AM

John Besh
John Besh
Israel news photo: Jewish Agency

Four world-renowned chefs from New Orleans, including John Besh, will cook it up in Israel next week in a Jewish Agency “sister city” tour. They will cook for the IDF and offer gourmet meals - strictly kosher -  for 10 shekels ($3) a dish to the public.

Part of the Jewish Agency’s Partnership 2000 Initiative, Besh, ranked by Food and Wine as one of the top ten chefs in the U.S, David Slater, the chef de cuisine at Emeril’s New Orleans, Alon Shaya, one of Louisiana Cookin’s 2007 “Chefs to Watch.” and Jacques Leonardi, owner and head chef of Jacques-Imo’s Café will join the tour as Part of the Jewish Agency’s Partnership 2000 Initiative,

They will visit Tel Aviv Restaurants, cook for IDF soldiers n the north and will offer cooking classes and discounted gourmet meals in the gala opening of the New Boardwalk in Rosh Ha’ayin, New Orlean’s sister city located adjacent to metropolitan Tel Aviv and situated on the western edge of Samaria.

Proceeds from the event will be donated to programs in Israel that serve youth-at-risk.

Lea Golan, the Jewish Agency’s Deputy Director-General for Programs said, “The Jewish Agency is always looking for new ways to create interaction between Israelis and our Jewish brethren abroad. It is hard to imagine a more Jewish way of bringing people together than celebrating through food.”

More than 550 Jewish communities and federations around the world in 47 partnerships with Israeli regions

The visiting chefs have a rich background in culinary arts. Besh grew up in southern Louisiana and has set the benchmark for fine dining in New Orleans in six acclaimed restaurants. A former marine, he is a frequent guest chef on the NBC Today Show, and has appeared on top programs on The Food Network and the Sundance Channel, as well.

Slater spent his youth exploring Toronto, one of the most cosmopolitan and multicultural cities in the world, and he has inherited his grandparents’ Russian and Romanian heritage by blending several cultural traditions in his personal style of cooking.

He was forced to evacuate to New York during the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe, and worked in a number of popular Manhattan restaurants for a few months until the restoration and reopening of Emeril’s New Orleans in December 2005.  

Alon Shaya spent most of his childhood in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother in Philadelphia. After training at the Culinary Institute of America, Alon interned at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, too young to gamble, but ready to take on the casino kitchens. Shaya and Besh forged a partnership in 2008 and opened Domenica, a family-oriented, authentic Italian restaurant in New Orleans Historic Roosevelt Hotel.

Jacques Leonardi was raised on a farm in upstate New York by a French mother and an Italian father and was exposed early to the cuisine of both nationalities and the use of fresh seasonal ingredients. A graduate of the Coast Guard Academy, Jacques fell in love with New Orleans and all it had to offer while stationed in the city.

He operates one of New Orleans most popular restaurants, and locals and tourists wait up to two hours nightly for a table. Jacques strolls around his domain talking animatedly to guests and sharing his generosity with both food and drink.