September 25, 2018

Taste of Israel Touches Palates and Hearts

The secret to Israeli Chef Zammy Shraiber’s kreplach is that it’s “a 70-year-old recipe and it’s filled with meat and oxtail sauce.”

Shraiber, who owns the Tel Aviv kosher restaurant Sender, shared this tidbit with the Journal on the night of June 7 at the Taste of Israel Los Angeles event, held at the Skirball Cultural Center.

The kosher festival drew hundreds of foodies who paid a minimum of $195 each to sample their fill of a variety of exotic Israeli foods and wines. Proceeds from the event went to the Larger Than Life Foundation, a nonprofit that helps seriously ill Israeli children who have cancer, and their families.

Guests were greeted with 50 varieties of Herzog wine to choose from, including cabernet, Fusion merlot, Shor and Moscato. Participating wineries included Barkan, Tabor, Covenant and Shiloh.

“Everyone’s super into the wine — they’re having a great time,” Taylor Von Elling, one of the vendors, told the Journal.

After sampling the wines, guests could go upstairs to partake of the gourmet food from some of Israel’s top chefs, including Shraiber, Meir Adoni, Aviv Moshe and Golan Gurfinkel.

Asher Shalom said he wished that Los Angeles had more of the food that was served at Taste of Israel.

Other food available for sampling included sea bass with garbanzo beans, tomatoes and onions, and Israeli salad with hummus and kabob.

“It’s been absolutely amazing and you can definitely tell that it’s not from anywhere nearby, that all these flavors and the combinations came from Israel, such a lush area with so many creative cuisine types,” attendee Brandon Feder said.

“We don’t have enough lamb here,” he added, “so all these variations of different kinds of lamb dishes was out of this world.”

Sgula Dershowitz was busy munching on Shraiber’s chopped liver. “[It’s] really, really yummy,” she said. Shraiber said the secret to his chopped liver is that “it’s really chopped, not [made] with a food processor.”

Asher Shalom said he wished that Los Angeles had more of the food that was served at Taste of Israel. “It’s not a hamburger or something like [that]; each one is something unique made with a lot of art,” Shalom said, in particular noting the uniqueness of the boutique fruit.

Later in the evening, guests were escorted to the main courtyard to enjoy live music performed by Moments, a band consisting of 25 musicians, singers and dancers. During the performance, Taste of Israel organizer Orly Tal came onstage to thank everyone involved with putting together the event.

“Next year, we are going to do it bigger, larger!” Tal proclaimed.

Chef Gurfinkel, who runs the popular Dallal restaurant in Tel Aviv, paid homage to his 15-year-old daughter, May, who died from cancer just under a year ago. He also praised Larger Than Life.

“It’s not only mingling, it’s not only food. This is not the main event,” Gurfinkel said. “The main event is the children sitting in the hospital [who] can’t play with all the [other] children; all [their] friends going out and going to the beach.”

Gurfinkel told attendees that by coming to the event they were helping buy medicine for these children and their families who can’t do it alone. “You,” he said, “are larger than life.”