A number of Israel's leading chefs have signed a petition calling on Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to cancel a protocol which bans the ministry from taking official guests to non-kosher restaurants.
The chefs say this protocol is a serious blow to the gourmet restaurant branch on the one hand, and also affects the non-Jewish guests who are not exposed to quality gourmet dining in Israel, since most such restaurants are not kosher.
Prominent chefs who signed the petition include: Haim Cohen, Yisrael Aharoni, Yonatan Roshfeld, Nir Zuk, Meir Adoni, Avi Conforti, Daniel Zach and Aviv Moshe.
The petition reads: "The effort to expose diplomats and journalists from abroad to the best of Israeli cuisine is blocked by a serious hurdle time and time again: According to the Foreign Ministry's regulations, members of delegations visiting Israel (even if they are non-Jews) cannot not be hosted in non-kosher restaurants.
"The vast majority of quality restaurants in Israel are not kosher. Hosting journalists only in kosher restaurants hurts efforts to properly reflect the achievements of Israeli gastronomy…We ask you act immediately to amend this regulation, and cancel this sweeping ban that harms our joint efforts to put Israel on the global food map."
'Lieberman eats in non-kosher places'
The decision to host official guests only in kosher restaurants can be found in the foreign service's regulations.
Chef Haim Cohen told Yedioth Ahronoth, "If Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman eats in non-kosher restaurants, there is no reason his guests can't enjoy them as well."
Chef Nir Zuk, the owner of the non-kosher Jaffa restaurants Cordelia and Noa, has been suffering from this problem for years. "Diplomat's can't host (guests) at my place. I think this is a big miss."
The group of chefs is led by Janna Gur, editor of the Israeli food magazine Al Hashulchan (meaning: On the table), who said, "I hope the Foreign Ministry reconsiders the matter."
The foreign minister's office said in response: "The protocol was set before the foreign service regulation and the Foreign Ministry has been operating according to it for many years now. And of course, the foreign minister also follows it in all the official meals he hosts in the capacity of his position."
Sarit Sardas-Trotino contributed to this report