Incoming Minister of Tourism Haim Katz is in no hurry to sign the agreement with the Michelin guide, the world’s most prestigious food guide – who was expected to come to Israel, and is even considering not doing so, despite many requests from the people of the popular magazine. The top restaurateurs in Israel, including Chef Haim Cohen, Chef Raz Rahab (OCD), Michelin Star winner Gal Ben Moshe, Chef Tomer Agai, and Chef Ran Shmueli attacked the decision and are now embarking on a fight to bring the guide to Israel.
“It’s a crazy engine to bring tourism to Israel,” said chef Haim Cohen this evening (Friday) on the program “Friday at Five”. “If it’s not economic, then voila – I don’t know what is economic anymore. I’m ready to sit down with Minister Katz and the professional bodies and talk to them about it. Even if it only starts in Tel Aviv, it’s a good start.” According to Chef Tomer Tal: “The importance of Michelin in Israel will contribute to tourism and its good name in the world – this is our way of contributing to the country, political controversy must not enter the kitchen.”
The arrival of Michelin in Israel may be a milestone in Israeli cuisine
According to sources familiar with the details, the members of the prestigious guide contacted the tourism bureau several times after the Christmas vacation to sign the contract that had already been drawn up and passed the approval of the accountant general and other government offices, but they have not yet received a clear answer. It seems that the reason for the delay is kashrut – and its effect on the stability of the coalition and the ultra-orthodox parties that are members of the government.
“As someone who holds a Michelin, I meet every day the enormous effects it has on the world of tourism”
“Bringing a Michelin rating to Israel will position the Israeli restaurant industry together with other leading beers and countries in the culinary field and will bring to Israel thousands of tourists a year,” emphasized the restaurant association. Raz Rahab, chef of the OCD restaurant, added that “Michelin’s arrival in Israel could have been a milestone in Israeli cuisine. The step could have taken incoming tourism forward and of course also brought a lot of money into the state coffers and small businesses in the country. Unfortunately, the current government sees it in a way different”.
Gal Ben Moshe, owner of a Michelin star for the Prism restaurant in Berlin and chef of the Pastel restaurant in Israel, added: “I think the Honorable Minister is wrong. There is a historic opportunity for a kosher restaurant with a Michelin star. As someone who holds a Michelin, I meet every day the enormous effects it has on the world of tourism. It’s a shame That the minister chooses to attack the Tel Aviv restaurateurs who invest their money, pay taxes and create jobs and does not see the opportunity in the guide.”
“Maybe in this area they will stop the coercion? Let us decide what we eat and on what day”
Tomer Agai, the chef of the Santa Katarina restaurant, attacked the obvious decision: “Who authorized the Honorable Minister to decide on us to eat kosher, friendly kosher, or not kosher at all? What reason does he have to dismantle such a magnificent enterprise as Michelin. I am not in the game, nor One of my restaurants doesn’t compete or want a star, but there are people who dedicate their lives to this thing, so maybe it’s precisely in this minor and less significant issue of culinary that the coercion will stop. Maybe, we’ll stand up right and left and say enough – let us decide what we eat and on what day.”
It should be emphasized that the cost of the guide according to the agreement, which was promoted by the previous Minister of Tourism, Yoel Razvozov, is about half a million euros per year – a tiny amount out of the Ministry of Tourism’s budget, which last year was more than a billion shekels, and a marketing budget of 250 million shekels. Additional claims were heard regarding the fact that the guide will only contribute to the city of Tel Aviv. A solution was proposed for this issue as well, which would require an additional 200,000 euros per year.
According to restaurateur Bernardo Belhovitz (Silo, Primo, Cafe Gan Sifar): “My partners in the culinary industry will agree that it doesn’t matter which restaurants are decorated with stars – in Tel Aviv or outside, kosher or not, as long as Israeli cuisine is on the map, we are all hired.” Chef Benny Madar, the chef of the sphera Hashrah restaurant in Rehovot, added: “Whether the restaurant is kosher or not, the judgment will be determined according to the high standards of Michelin. There is no reason why a kosher restaurant should not also be awarded a Michelin star.”
The response of Minister of Tourism Haim Katz: “The decision regarding the Michelin guide will be made in cooperation with the professionals and will be accepted only from professional considerations. At the center is the question – is this the best value for the hundreds of thousands of euros a year from the tax money of the citizens of Israel.”