Leading North American chefs, including chef Jonathan Waxman and ‘Top Chef’ judge Gail Simmons, arrived in Israel today for the ultimate gastronomic road trip, billed as a Celebrity Chef ‘Birthright’, organized by leading celebrity chef marketer, Herb Karlitz of Karlitz & Company.

Additional culinary leaders joining the Tour include chef and television personality Amanda Freitag, (Chopped), chef and restaurateur Marc Murphy (Landmarc),Leah Cohen (Pig & Khao), TV personality and restaurateur Eden Grinshpan (Top Chef Canada), chef and restaurateur Jenn Louis (Lincoln), Naama Shefi (Founder, The Jewish Food Society), and chef and restaurateur Nancy Silverton (Mozza Restaurant Group).

The gourmet voyage will bring together the famous chefs as they break bread for the first time with Israel’s most accomplished chefs, artisanal food producers, winemakers, and culinary tech innovators, who collectively contribute to one of the most exciting and vibrant food scenes in the world.

Celebrity Chef ‘Birthright’ is sponsored by a prestigious group of American and Israeli partners and philanthropists, whose generous donations have made this diverse itinerary possible.

The schedule includes a visit to the Dan Gourmet Culinary School to meet culinary students, attending the groundbreaking ceremony of the Sheba Medical Center, for its new laser treatment center for pediatric burn survivors, visitingStart-Up Nation Central and its bustling restaurant, L28, which is considered one of Israel’s most exciting culinary platforms, a tour of the Western Wall tunnels and visits to Israel’s humming food markets, street food vendors and wineries. Throughout the six-day trip, the group will explore Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with local culinary experts including Chef Ido Zarmi, Chef Shuli Wimer and cookbook author, Adeena Sussman. The trip is supported by Founding Sponsor EY. Additional sponsors include Paul E. Singer Foundation, Start-Up Nation Central, Sylvan Adams, Treasures of the Galilee, Dan Hotels, El Al Airlines, Kirsh Foundation, and Lauren Fried – Food for Good and Isaac Applbaum. The Israel Export Institute, as strategic partner of Celebrity Chef Birthright will introduce the chefs to the diversity of Israeli products throughout the week including olive oil and wine.

For several of these celebrity chefs, including Amanda Freitag and Marc Murphy, this will be their first time in Israel and serves a unique opportunity for them to discover a revitalized version of Israeli cuisine, influenced by 19 international immigrant cultures and interpreted by a new breed of chefs and culinary visionaries.  

The inspiration and vision for the cross-cultural chef excursion came from Karlitz, who, when on a trip to Israel in 2016, was struck by the vast evolution he encountered, which has transformed Israel into a hub of technology and innovation in the fields of gastronomy, technology, oenology and agriculture. Excited and inspired by this reinvigorated Israel, and after two years of intensive research and coordination, Celebrity Chef ‘Birthright’ has been realized.

“People take vacations for various reasons. Some go for history, some for adventure, some for relaxation. I go for food. I never thought of Israel as a food destination, but after my last visit, I’ll never think of Israel without thinking about the wonderful cuisine. In fact, the only controversy I have is when I tell people who know I go to Italy every summer for six weeks – that across the board, that the best food I’ve ever had on vacation was on my recent trip to Israel. But that’s controversy I embrace because it opens the door for me to tell them that in its food, in its style, in its hospitality, Israel was not at all what I expected. Thank goodness. I am so looking forward to experiencing this with my fellow chefs, most of whom I have known for years,” says Nancy Silverton, Chef and Restaurateur.

“Celebrity Chef ‘Birthright’ will shine a spotlight on aspects of Israel that are less known abroad, including its culinary landscape, vibrant music scene and thriving nightlife. The chefs are role models for a young generation in the food and restaurant scene. Seeing their heroes talking to Israelis from different backgrounds and origins from the north to the south, will connect them to the Israeli experience, in a positive and different way from what is portrayed in the media today. Highlighting Israel’s growing scene of gourmet and experience-orientated food, is both smart and enjoyable angle and I’m happy to support a project that is so widely promoting that strategy,” adds Ambassador Ron Prosor, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Kingdom and United Nations

Herb Karlitz comments: “When I visited Israel in 2018, I was blown away by the culinary scene, and how it had changed from my first trip, more than 20 years ago, when I left “schnitzled” out and underwhelmed by the lack of variety. After eating the most amazing food this time, and seeing the difference the country has undergone in terms of ingredients and technique, I was convinced their food story had to be told, and based on my background and longtime relationships, I knew I was the person to make it happen. I promised I would return and experience Israel with my friends. This became Celebrity Chef ‘Birthright’, which has grown into something much bigger than I imagined, and I have been encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by the chefs and sponsors to take this journey with me.”

A Celebrity Chef ‘Birthright’ welcome breakfast reception will be held at the King David Jerusalem Hotel on January 29th at 8:30am  and will be an opportunity for the chefs and sponsors to meet local press and dignitaries.

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