JNF Women Spice It Up

JNF Women Spice It Up

Jewish National Fund women tune in to the future of culinary arts in the Galilee.

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

Leaders Sheri Labovitz and Sharoni Levison are fans of Sercaz and JNF goals.
Leaders Sheri Labovitz and Sharoni Levison are fans of Sercaz and JNF goals.

The likes of Hyde Park and Le Cordon Bleu will have a new global player. And leave it to Israel to make it a reality.

The future Galilee Culinary Institute was showcased at the Women’s Jewish National Fund USA’s Beyond the Blue Box series, “Spice it up with Lior Lev Sercarz,” renowned chef and spice master who appeared at the Dunwoody Nature Center on Jan. 26.

The GCI is a state-of-the-art culinary institute under construction in Kiryat Shmona, poised to bring life and cutting-edge excitement to the entire region through food, agriculture, employment, education, and tourism. As the first of its kind, and accredited in the Middle East, the academy aims to become a mecca for cooking, baking, food technology, agriculture, and notably, the restaurant and hospitality industry, along with the business of food security.

After his formal remarks, Chef Lior Lev Sercarz mingled with women in the audience.

Activist and JNF Atlanta board member Renee Evans commented to the AJT that just 90 days ago she had a private tour of the facility, and said, “It was so beautiful, and destined to revitalize the whole area as a worldwide industry hub.”

Event co-chairs Stacy Libowski and Julie Sack welcomed the group and read comments from co-chair Lauren Harris who was unable to attend. Harris noted, “It was besheret for you all to be in front of trees in view of upcoming Tu Bishvat…and the topic of food in Jewish culture serves a vehicle of forging connections.”

Cindy Sterne, DASH Hospitality executive, introduced the guest speaker, author and food celebrity Lior Lev Sercarz, who grew up in a kibbutz near the Lebanese border and defied his family’s doubts that he would made a real profession out of the food business.

He added, “At an early age, I was melting chocolate, and when the family lived for a time in Rome, I got more intrigued by cuisine like pasta.” He served in the IDF where he stepped in to cook. One of his most impressionable experiences was working in Brittany where he used unusual spices like black cardamom.

Chef Lior Lev Sercarz is flanked by co-chairs Stacy Libowski and Julie Sack, showing off his books.

Sercarz ended up in New York where he runs his high profile business, La Boite, Biscuits and Spices, a brick and mortar in Hell’s Kitchen. He also markets retail as Voyager Collection in partnership with Eric Ripert. His books are “The Art of Blending,” 41 blends and recipes from renown chefs. Next was “The Spice Companion,” a distillation of his 30 years of experience, and his most recent book, “Mastering Spices,” selected by the New York Times as one of the best cookbooks of the year.

Some of his specialties are combining popcorn and chocolate, gin and amaro, hot sauces and vinegar. He laughed, “In 2008, I took out a credit line (from my fiancé) and started blending spices in my living room. Spices are for everybody from Minnesota to Mumbai. Spices are real ingredients and not just an afterthought.” His big break came when he got a call from a major customer who wanted Sercarz to prepare spices for his business.

Clad in a baseball cap covering his shock of silver hair, Sercarz expressed his vision of the GCI, describing the breathtaking 180-degree view overlooking the Hula Valley and plans the institute to be fully self-sustainable and for profit.

Beth Gluck, JNF executive director, Greater Atlanta, and Nicole Flom, senior campaign executive, use the Dunwoody trees as the perfect backdrop.

He shared, “We will have state-of-the-art technology in sustainability, farming, composting/up-posting, etc., in addition to coffee, spices, and the hotel, school, and gourmet dining for tourists. Half the funds have been raised, and there are naming opportunities. Sercarz is going to great lengths to assure kashruth concerns to the point of having an onsite mill to sift flour. The space may be operational on the weekends since tourism is involved.

Annette Sacks Catering served a light lunch with Sercarz’ recipes of spiced carrot soup, marinated beets, Israeli couscous with vegetables. Attendees left with their own container of carrot soup spice, courtesy of Jewish National Fund.

Nicole Flom said, “Acting as lead staff for my first JNF-USA Women for Israel event in my new position, I am so pleased with the event. I am grateful for my strong lay leadership, which helped organize and plan an engaging event for 70 women in the greater Atlanta community. Anytime we are able to get a nice group of people together in support of Israel, I see it as a success.”

Did you love the food? These were Chef Lior’s featured dishes. To make them yourself here are the recipes:
• Carrot Soup: bit.ly/3Ytn9wM
• Beet Salad: bit.ly/3lzKtur
• Couscous Salad: bit.ly/40SIEJ8

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