Jewish Gala Food Is Terrible. This Israeli Chef Is Trying To Change That.

A gala used to be an occasion where you would put on your most uncomfortable shoes, totter over to the refurbished lunchroom of your child’s school and sit at a table with ten other people you hated while waiters glumly brought you dishes of overcooked salmon with lethargic sprigs of thyme perched indelicately on top.

Not anymore.

“The old school gala has become a little boring,” says Gadi Peleg, owner of New York City’s Breads Bakery and Nur restaurant. “Food is not the focus of some of those galas.”

Intrusive memories of undercooked lemon chicken garnished by tasteless diced potatoes flood into my mind.

Well, the June 14 event Peleg is throwing is all about the food, he assures me. The event, billed as a Middle Eastern culinary journey (and wine tasting!) boasts a pantheon of respected chefs like Eyal Shani, of Israeli hotspot Miznon, and food documentarian Roger Sherman, of “In Search Of Israeli Cuisine.” There’s also Jennifer Abadi, with Syrian Jewish fare, and Louisa Shafia, who wrote “The New Persian Kitchen.”

“It’s a sign of the times of how events will be run,” Peleg told me. “At most of these events, you don’t see how the food is made, and you probably don’t want to. Making food for eight hundred people is not a beautiful process.”

Maybe it will be now.

Tearing down the iron curtain between the food and the people that eat it, and revealing the magic of how food is made, made by the de rigeous course of order for galas in years to come.

Let’s hope so.

The gala benefits the Rabin Medical Center in Israel, housing world famous cancer treatment center The Davidoff Center. (“After all, whether you are Baron Rothschild or someone cleaning the streets, everyone gets the same medical treatment,” Peleg tells me.) Tickets are available online.

Is this the end of refried french fries and overcooked steak? One can only hope!

Shira Feder writes about food. You can reach her at feder@forward.com

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