Asif Presents: The Essence of Israeli Food Tech with OCD and OPA

michal levit

Special article contributed by Michal Levit,
Director of Programming & Innovation
@ Asif: Culinary Institute of Israel

Israel’s culinary and food tech scene is poised to make a resounding impact on the global gastronomy stage. Recently, Asif: Culinary Institute of Israel had the honor of leading a delegation of talented and visionary Israeli chefs to the prestigious Big Meet conference in Stockholm, a key gathering for the Nordic and European foodtech industry.

Organized by Sweden Foodtech, the event brought together leading foodtech companies, entrepreneurs, scientists, and chefs from around the world. Asif’s delegation was comprised of Chef Shirel Berger from Opa restaurant, who was recently deemed the “One to Watch” by the World’s 50 Best (Middle East/North Africa), and Chefs Raz Rahav and Shalom Simcha Elbert of OCD restaurant, which picked up the “Most Sustainable Restaurant” award from the same World’s 50 Best organization.

With advance preparation by Start-Up Nation Central’s Alon Tukaspa and Tibor Kochman, the delegation presented the dynamic Israeli culinary scene and food tech ecosystem to a global audience. The common thread was the potential of Israel’s diverse food culture, cutting-edge foodtech sector, entrepreneurial spirit, and creative prowess to tackle the pressing challenges facing our food system.

The delegation’s visit to Stockholm was marked by a series of engaging activities, including their participation in a panel discussion on the main stage of the conference, collaboration in the test kitchen, and a reception at the Israel Ambassador’s residence.

Culinary Fusion in the FoodTech Test Kitchen

During the Big Meet, the chefs had the opportunity to participate in the conference’s main test kitchen, where they worked alongside leading Scandinavian chefs to cook with some of the futuristic products of the food tech exhibitors.

Each of the chefs crafted dishes that represented their personal cooking styles using a fusion of food tech products, such as the intensely flavored beans from Israel Vanilla Vida and vegan cheese by the Swedish MOLT FoodTech. Sustainably farmed Swedish wolffish and innovative coffee flour from Kaffe Bueno also played a key role. More than 100 portions of each dish were gone in minutes.

Food Culture, Food Tech, and Sustainability at the Ambassador’s Residence

The delegation was honored to be invited by Ambassador Ziv Nevo Kulman, Ambassador of Israel to Sweden, to host a reception at his residence. Among the distinguished attendees were celebrated local artist Carsten Holler, Scandinavian chefs, Israeli entrepreneurs and a bevy of local food journalists and other press.

The talented Israeli chefs showcased their culinary creativity with a vegetarian menu that represented their personal styles of cuisine, Israeli ingredients, and their commitment to no-waste sustainable cooking. Chef Shirel presented dishes, such as kohlrabi carpaccio, delicately cured and smoked, adorned with Israeli Ilsar truffles and lemon zest. A kohlrabi tartlet featured a delightful combination of kohlrabi compote, foam, and caramelized kohlrabi. Chefs Raz and Shalom delighted guests with their innovative creations, including tacos made from upcycled mushrooms, topped with a spring salad and Israeli Vanilla Vida cream. Their take on Israeli falafel, the Panisse, incorporated chickpea miso, chickpea flour, fresh herbs, and lime.

The event also featured the exclusive Asif Cocktail, a blend of Zoara Gin made from rescued Medjool dates and Valley of the Springs herbs, along with a variety of herbs sourced from the farm atop the building the houses Asif and Start-Up Nation Central. Guests were invited to take bottles of the cocktail home to enjoy a further taste of Asif.

Food Tech with Flavor? Panel Discussion Highlights

During a panel discussion on the main stage of the conference, expertly moderated by Mitchell Davis, the three chefs shared their insights on the interplay between tradition and innovation, sustainability, zero-waste practices, and culinary excellence. Chef Berger, in particular, emphasized the importance of focusing on taste, urging food tech companies to collaborate with top chefs to enhance the organoleptic qualities of their products. The chefs showcased their commitment to sustainability and culinary excellence, drawing inspiration from culinary heritage and technological advancements.

israel food tech landscape map 2023

At Asif, we take immense pride in our role as a culinary institution dedicated to showcasing Israel’s extraordinary culinary scene to a global audience. Through our efforts, we strive to promote talented chefs who embody values of sustainability and innovation. Moreover, we foster strong connections between the Israeli culinary ecosystem and communities worldwide, reinforcing the belief that good taste and culinary excellence are integral components of the food tech landscape.

Join us in celebrating the indispensable role of good taste in food tech, as it paves the way for crafting remarkable and enjoyable culinary experiences, and watch the panel discussion here >>

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Photo: Amit Geron

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