During the YOCOPAS conference, I had the chance to participate in the Chefs Without Borders workshop. This workshop was focused on how food is used as a tool to connect people from different cultures. Two chefs, Avnet Laskin and Ezra Kadem, with three sous-chefs, guided us through the workshop. The two chefs have diverse backgrounds in the food industry, Avnet Laskin being the author of the book, “Divine Food”, and Ezra Kedem coming from Israel’s top culinary school.
In the introduction to the workshop, the principal of a school for deaf students introduced us to a program that her school is partnered with. This program is meant to bring people with and without disabilities, and from different socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, together, in order to learn how to cook together with professional chefs.
The chefs in the workshop introduced various dishes to the students. There were two versions of a red rice salad, a tuna ceviche, anchovies, and tiramisu. The chefs guided us through the steps of cooking and assembling the dishes, all of which was done very professionally. It felt like I was watching a live cooking show, with the chefs explaining everything they were doing, from the ingredients they were using and where they came from to how they were using the ingredients in their dish.
The workshop helped students understand that food isn’t only used for nourishment, it is used for something beyond that. Food is used for building bridges between cultures and people who would usually not get the chance to interact positively. It brings people together in a way that nothing else does. Food is a language, an unspoken language that we all speak subconsciously.
Moreover, food connects cultures, as one can use different cultural cuisines to create a new meal. During the workshop, the chefs talked about how they mix Israeli and Palestinian food together. This helps connect the two cultures in a different way and allows them to bond when they normally wouldn’t.
At EMIS, the times when we eat together are important times for communication with one another. It is during those times that we can connect with people that we normally wouldn’t. Sometimes the only times when we really connect with our families at home is during dinner, with food as a tool to bring us all together.
I enjoyed this workshop a lot. It opened my perspectives about how food can be more than simply a daily necessity. Before this workshop, I had never thought about the importance of chefs and what they do. I think that it is very important for everyone to realize how important food and everything that comes with food is in our daily life.
Written by: Isabella Åkesson
Edited by: Keren Sneh and Shy Zvouloun
Copy edited by: Shy Zvouloun
Photo credits to Isabella Åkesson