EVENTS Starred Chefs Celebrate Jewish Food and Traditions in Milan

tentBy Daniel Reichel

Michelin-starred chefs celebrated Jewish food and traditions as a part of the festival of Jewish culture “La tenda di Abramo” (Abraham’s Tent), which took place in Milan last week.

The festival was focused on the concept of food as a sign of welcome, as a concrete gesture of solidarity towards others as well as a way to open a dialogue among diverse traditions.

The opening the event was a symbolic lunch provided to the needy and homeless prepared by starred chef Heinz Beck. Chef Beck created dishes that followed both kosher and halal rules.
Chef Beck created dishes that followed both kosher and halal rules.
“Our rabbis remind us that there is nothing that brings together more people than eating and drinking at the same table. If I open my house, if I invite the other to my table, I make a concrete gesture of welcome and I demonstrate my love for others,” explained chief rabbi of Milan Alfonso Arbib. The rabbi emphasized the value of hospitality and solidarity which is a central theme of this first edition of the festival. This event was presented by the deputy mayor of Milan Francesca Balzani, the presidents of the Jewish Community Milo Hasbani and Raffaele Besso, Monsignor Lino Fumagalli, Imam Yahya Pallavicini, Rabbi Elia Richetti, and Mario Furlan, founder of the City Angels, an NGO involved in various initiatives to support refugees.

“In the biblical account, Abraham’s tent was open in all four directions, in order to accommodate every guest without limitation, sharing with him the food and the table,” said the councilor for Culture of the Jewish Community Davide Romano.

During the four days of the festival, followers of the three Abrahamic religions discussed various themes: vegetarianism, food waste, the rules relating to the food of Judaism and Islam and the relationship between technology and the earth.

Chef Heinz Beck emphasized his pleasure in participating in the initiative. “I was already familiar with kosher and halal laws,” said Beck discussing the difficulties in how to respect the religious tradition in the kitchen. “It was a very stimulating challenge, very well received by all my staff because we had to move with creativity within the confines of the dietary laws.”

“Food,” continued the chef “is a symbol of peace. It makes us happy when we share and we want to provide the best.”

Deputy Mayor Barzani said that people must remember that food not only represents fuel for the body but also nourishment for the soul, and that the initiative of the Jewish Community represents this truth.

“We worked for over a year on this project,” explained Daniela Di Veroli a member of the steering committee of the festival. “We decided to do this at the closing of Expo because the central themes of the Universal Exhibition do not lose relevance at the end of October (last month of the Universal Exposition of Milan). They will continue to matter in the same way as they have deep roots in the past. It is apparent if we look at Jewish tradition: for hundreds of years Judaism has inspired reflections on such themes as respecting and sharing food and the prohibition against waste. The Tent of Abraham wants to be a tool to continue thinking about them,” said Di Veroli, who took part in a cooking demonstration at the Expo Israeli Pavilion with Alessio Algherini, an Italian star chef, and Osama Dalal a young and well-known Arab-Israeli chef from Akko.

Each of them, as well as another famous Italian chef, Davide Oldani, created a special dish for the Tent of Abraham.