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The Taste of Israel

What does “family meal” mean to you? Nostalgia? Laughter? Too much wine? Family means love, bonding, being together in peace and harmony. This sums up what what The Taste of Israel evoked, forefront and center was unison. I had the pleasure of attending this beautiful project put on by great Israeli Chefs and The Israeli Consulate to raise funds for Meir Panim Charity Organization that helps Israelis in need of food, shelter and strength to lean on in times of need.

Entering the historical landmark, The Majestic Downtown, which was once an Italian Bank that still holds a huge Vault that's in tact, rich dark oak stair cases, private rooms located in the corners of the building, counters throughout with one section of paneling just made of pennyś is truly remarkable. This venue wasn't just a bank that's filled with hidden rooms, masterpieces to look at, rich in history with stories to tell, it's been touched by Hollywood and scenes from our favorite blockbuster movies have been filmed here. Just to name a few, Traffic, Spider-Man, Blow, Seven, The Mask, Bridesmaids and more, now we can add The Taste of Israel!

The venues high ceiling are spectacular, chandeliers covered in crystal, one in particular is at the entrance walking in that takes your breath away. Here was this chandelier hanging in all its grace and majesty and placed underneath, a circular table towering with wine glasses kissing the tips of the crystal covered chandelier. It felt like The Great Gatsby, a night filled with hope, wonderful anticipation to meet great culinary experts, tasting exotic foods and wines from Israel to California.

In each room there were mini stations representing Chefs and their unique dish from their restaurants or catering companies. I was honored to meet Chef Alan Cohen from Got Kosher catering who's little sandwiches were absolutely delicious. Chef Alan explained that these sandwiches that bring comfort and fill your belly that taste like a little bit of heaven is tradition, connected to their roots, their childhood and to their mothers. Chef Alans dish is inspired from his mom which reminded him of being a little boy, "we'd run home, swing open the doors and the scent of challah being fried would capture you, you'd rush in the kitchen and mom was making Fricassse a mini-Tunisian fry bread stuffed with tuna, egg and capers." Chef Alan invoked comfort and nostalgia by just presenting this one dish. This was the start of my night, learning the history and origin of each dish alongside savoring wines that have been created from across the world and brought so that we may taste it at The Taste of Israel.

With over 40 food and wine exhibitors get ready to eat, mingle with your friends and create some new memories to talk about next time you’re at a family meal. Chef Erez Levy and Chef Richard Lauter brought you blacked bay salmon belly which was absolutely to die for, the salmon was laid over roasted garnet beet sauerkraut on pumpernickel rye toast. The yellow sauce is Meyer lemon mostarda, YUM!

Another gem, Mammas Flavors created by Carmit Attal and Limor Moalem who had a vision of creating light healthy food for catering kosher meals. Bravo ladies, your dishes were simply delicious, from the taste, aroma and colors, it was magical. Their goal is to share "Mama's Flavors" with innumerable numbers of homes near and far which they are clearly accomplishing!

Craving Kosher Sushi? We've got the place for you, SushiKo. Chef Kahn Chingis Byambasuren did an amazing job in creating an authentic sushi bar with all the staple dishes, Sushi, Sashimi, Nigiri, salmon salad and tuna ceviche, most of all their famous Japanese Pizza which is deep fried sushi rice, bell pepper and spicy tuna baked with special pizza sauce. The Chef would also take requests and make you your favorite roll to experience.

The Blue Olive, created by Chef Malcom Mitchell, entrepreneur, chef, and author. Former Navy man and now a Chef of the Food Network channel, he's doing it all. His salad was light and bursting with flavor.

Chef David Slatkin from David's Events was truly a sight to see. Chef David's Catering was established in 2003.

They are a full service catering company that will assist in making your event one of kind with spectacular food and remarkable presentation.

Our taste buds are watering when looking at this delectable vegetable dish presented in this industrial size skillet. How could you pass this up?

With so many Chefs and savory creations, hats off to the Chefs for their outstanding hard work which was displayed by their beautiful representation of savory dishes. There dedication to a cause that's greater than all of us, bringing strangers and creating unity over food is a hard task that was accomplished at The Taste of Israel.

The night wasn't only filed with food, on the second floor you'd find the wineries that were specifically brought in for this event. So many to choose from to enhance each meal prepared by our glorious chefs so I'm going to talk about my favorite wine from The Taste of Israel. Domaine Netofa Rose served chilled is refreshing and easy to drink. Created in northern Israel in Galilee wine region, its light composition enjoys satisfying aromas of fresh fruit with a touch of Syrah grape.

Tal Ronnen, founder and chef of Crossroads Restaurant and author of the New York Times bestseller The Conscious Cook, was on hand to autograph his latest book, Crossroads – Extraordinary Recipes from the Restaurant that is Re-inventing Vegan Cuisine

As a pescatarian that eats mainly vegan, this cookbook will be cherished and used daily. Thank Chef Tal for creating this beautiful and ingenious cookbook.

Amongst the food and wine, cookbook signing from a famous Chef Tal, The Taste of Israel added a twist to make this evening unforgettable, sassy with a unique flare, they added a cooking contest with Chef Penny Davidi from the Food Network. Oy Vey!

It was definitely a production to see which I'm proud to say I partook in and won with my partner. The hilarity of throwing 8 volunteered people together, breaking into teams of two was memorable. Chef Penny with her dynamic personality, engaging her "willing victims" her words not mine, enticing the crowd with her charisma and bantering, brought the show to another level of entertainment. Our goal was to make a mezze platter with the ingredients in front of us. A mezze platter is a selection of small dishes which would include Tabbouleh, bulgur, finely chopped parsley, mint, tomato, spring onion, with lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings. Arugula salad, artichoke salad, Baba Ghanoush which is a dip or spread made from mashed roasted eggplant, sesame paste and garlic, Hummus, stuffed grape leaves, olives, roasted red peppers, cheese and bread. Our goal was to add proper ingredients and seasoning to enhance each dish and then arrange it on our platters. I was lucky enough to be partnered up with a chef at heart that won us our prize. Our judges Chef Penny and Chef Matthew unanimously declared us winners of our mezze platter for presentation and taste. We were awarded our very own Chef apron and a bottle of elite Israeli wine.

All of this wouldn't be made possible without generous sponsors who believe in the cause and who want to make a difference in the world. My mom always says, "when you're climbing up always look back and lend a hand," this was evident tonight. From the guests, vendors, Chefs, no matter how famous you are, use your talents, influence to make a difference in the world. Not only will you change one persons life but your legacy you'll leave behind will be what our future generations will aspire to be, a humanitarian.

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