“He’s an extraordinary, not only cook, but person. He’s just someone who inspires people.” This is how Sylvia Kaplan describes award-winning restaurateur and bestselling cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi, who will be in Minneapolis Thursday, May 5, for Temple Israel’s annual fundraiser, VOICES. Sylvia and her husband Sam Kaplan are co-chairs of this year’s event together with Sue Zelickson, and the two are also hosting a dinner on Wednesday, May 4, for Visionary Sponsors, generously underwritten by Patti & Robbie Soskin of yum! Kitchen & Bakery. (sponsorships and tickets available here).
Both nights promise to be filled with conversation about Ottolenghi’s imaginative ways of preparing beautiful food, his culinary and cultural influences, and his life. Ottolenghi, who grew up in Jerusalem, currently lives in London with his husband and two young sons, where he began his career as a restaurateur with Palestinian chef Sami Tamimi. Bon Appétit magazine has said that Ottolenghi’s approach to cooking has “made the world love vegetables.”
“His history, his life, how he got into food, how he’s parlayed it into a way of life and a way of cooking that is international,” Sue Zelickson said. “This event certainly has been worth waiting for.” Ottolenghi was originally scheduled to appear at Temple Israel’s event in May of 2020. The pandemic, of course, caused a change of plans.
Temple’s Senior Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman spoke with Ottolenghi this spring on Temple Israel’s podcast about how COVID has not only changed our collective plans over the past two years, but also our views. “The way I’ve changed my perspective,” Ottolenghi said in the interview, “is about what I think is essential. I think we’ve all had the notion that things need to be done in a particular way, and I think what we’ve discovered is that there’s many ways to do things.”
Ottolenghi described how, during the early pandemic when certain ingredients were scarce, he and his family made do and made the most of what they had at home. “It means that you understand that you can create delicious meals, and I saw that I could create delicious meals out of whatever was there.”
Just as Chef Ottolenghi hints at food as a metaphor for the inventiveness and resilience we’ve all had to draw upon during the pandemic, Minneapolis-based Chef David Fhima calls food “the ultimate barrier breaker.” Fhima, who is hosting the May 5 event, says that “nothing can emulate the quiet power of building a community than building it around food shared by people.” In this time of re-engaging two years into the pandemic, community is something that is very much on the minds of all involved with VOICES.
“We are so looking forward to this event,” said Zimmerman. “Not only is Yotam Ottolenghi an incredible chef and public figure, he knows the power of sitting together to have a meal. Ottolenghi is the person on the front lines of food as culture and food perpetuating strong conversation – and a bridge to difference.”
VOICES information and tickets are available now at templeisrael.com/voices.
This article is sponsored content from Temple Israel as part of TC Jewfolk’s Partnership program. For more information, check out our media kit.