Chefs For Peace
Chefs For Peace is a group of very special people not only as professional chefs of the highest caliber, but whose personal lives testify to their commitment to co-existence and care for their brother whether Arab or Jew, Christian or Muslim.
Founded in 2001, Chefs For Peace now numbers 25 Arabs and Jews coming from all three monotheistic faiths. All share a passion for culinary delights and commitment to excellence in food preparation and presentation. Moreover, Chefs For Peace counts among its ranks globe-trotting, world-class chefs of renown. These award-winning chefs have prepared gala dinners for special events and world competitions in Australia, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Singapore, and the United States. But the special bond that brought these men and women together was not only a love for food, but a love for people - people of all faiths, colors, and nationalities. Non-political, they do not demonstrate, and do not espouse any political agenda. But just like mothers have known down through the ages of history, Chefs For Peace believe good food and love go a long way in healing wounded hearts and relationships.
Chefs For Peace founder, Kevork Alemian, (the only Armenian in the group), has been a chef and in hotel management for 25 years. He tells how the idea for the group started while cooking with two Palestinians and two Israeli Jews on a culinary trip to Italy. "I watched these four cooks working together in the kitchen and it popped into my mind that we should do something together." It was great fellowship, great fun, and great food. When they returned, he called a meeting, putting forth his simple philosophy: "People have to eat. Let's just sit around the table and eat and enjoy together. But no talking politics."
A perfect match was made when Kevork, along with his chef and Vice President of Chefs For Peace Jacob Salbis, came to manage the YMCA's Three Arches Restaurant. The group's philosophy of promoting peace and friendship between Jew and Arab, Christian and Muslim, through good fellowship over good food is in perfect harmony with the YMCA's role as a bridge between the two peoples of the land and a home for all three monotheistic faiths. As Chef Jacob says proudly with a beaming smile, "The YMCA here likes us so much they have taken us into their hands. Now this is our home." Jacob, who incidentally has cooked for both Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon, says both of them shall pass. What matters to Jacob is his relationship with his Jewish and Arab staff in the kitchen: "We love each other. We help each other. We don't talk politics in the kitchen. We only talk about food -- and we are happy." Rule No. 1 is: No politics.
Behind the scenes, Kevork has given a catering class at the YMCA for 15 widowed traditional Muslim women who learned self-sustaining skills they can now use to work from their homes. He plans to offer more culinary courses for Arabs and Jews together, including special classes for children and teens. In the future, he wants to add courses in hotel management. And to encourage and guide the younger newcomers to the field, Kevork hopes to start a Junior Chefs For Peace organization.
One of the group's culinary stars, though he would blush to admit it, is Chef Moshe Basson. He recalls as a youngster listening to his Jewish father sitting and talking with his beloved Arab friend and neighbor in their small village. There was political conflict in the land, but they did not allow the conflict to affect their relationship. The young Moshe did not understand then, but has since learned over the years: "What my father and his friend were trying to say to me is that between the people there already is a peace - a peace of friendship and mutual interests."
Chefs For Peace will join other coexistence organizations in the belief that through continued social, professional and economic involvement, individuals from diverse sectors will develop the communication, mutual understanding and respect to live in peace.
Chefs For Peace will utilize the interest in food, cooking and professional culinary opportunities to provide experiences between people separated by partisan circumstances.
Chefs For Peace have chosen to unit in the Holy City of Jerusalem the center of three major monotheistic faiths. The barriers of past hurt, history and national struggle often appear impenetrable. In this Holy City, Jews, Moslems and Christians pass one another daily without common language. No matter how difficult, no matter how long, the process of seeking peace must continue. Without peace there can be no authentic development in our region, no better life for us, and no brighter future for our children.
That is why, Chefs For Peace ask the international community and the leadership representing both sides to move forward politically in the peace process, because the basic lack of trust and mutual respect on a personal level between the people of these faiths poses a fundamental obstacle.
Chefs For Peace believe that through using the vocabulary of the kitchen, and mutual understanding and practical cooperation, they will try to acknowledge the true one path, and that is PEACE.
Through our mutual understanding, we will unit and show the world that our authentic cuisine can contribute to the peace process. Chefs For Peace is indifferent to politics, religion or color; our aim is the improvement of human relations.
Chefs For Peace is ready to perform any event upon request or invitation to all sects of life, being it in the Holy Land or elsewhere in the world.
Kevork Alemian - Chairman
Yacoub Salbis - Vice Chairman
Rana Bullata - Secretary
Shamai Mittleman - Treasurer
Anat Lev Ari - Treasurer
Yossi El Ad - Membership Officer
Nabil Aho - Membership Officer
Joseph Asfour - Member
Moshe Basson - Member
Ibrahim Abu Seir - Member
Peter Korfiatis - Member
Tali Anbal - Member
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