Last Wednesday evening I joined a packed room in University of Toronto’s Multi-Faith Centre for a night of cooking and conversation. Cooking and demonstrating for us were two top chefs from Israel– one Muslim and one Jewish. Ibrahim Abu Seir is the head pastry chef at Jerusalem’s 5 star David Citadel Hotel and Joseph Elad is the owner of Menahe Yehuda Resutaurant.
The room was filled with Muslims, Christians and Jews at every table. The purpose of the evening was to bring all three faiths together in a positive way– through food. While we helped the chefs prepare our dinner, we were also encouraged to discuss whether or not we thought peace could be achieved in Israel. The discussion was very interesting and for the most part quite positive. When one student started to bring up certain anti-Israeli sentiments she had witnessed on U of T campus, founder and discussion facilitator, Kevork Aleimian, was quick to get the conversation back on track. Aleimian is Armenian and also from Israel.
Founded in 2001, Chefs for Peace is comprised of chefs from all over the world…
Aleimian explained Chefs for Peace is a not-for-profit with a dream of peace. Founded in 2001, it is comprised of chefs from all over the world from different religious backgrounds and its goal to is to encourage peaceful coexistence. He explained that it’s easy to focus on who did what to who and dwell in the past, but the only way to bring about peace is by working together to focus on it.
The meal we were served was delicious. An Israeli cucumber tomato salad, a beautifully spiced rice and vegetable dish and a dessert of fresh figs in coconut milk with a berry coulis on top. All vegetarian, all kosher, and all halal.
I had a really interesting conversation about the similarities and differences between what makes something kosher and what makes something halal with a girl of Muslim faith at my table. I think that everyone who attended learned a lot about each other in a positive environment. If only there were more programs like this, the world would be a more peaceful place.
For more information visit chefsforpeace.com.
Special shout out to Emily Berg, the Wolfond Centre Hillel team and all the other organizations that brought Chefs for Peace to Toronto for a week of amazing events!