These proud foodies are magicians in the kitchen, and dedicated activists for gay rights. Here’s an introduction to four LGBTQA culinary experts who host gastro experiences in Israel
Eating Around Israel with Gavi Nelson
Ex-New Yorker, 23-year-old Gavi lives in the White City’s hipster-favorite Florentine neighborhood and runs food tours in Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda Market and Tel Aviv’s Hatikvah and Carmel Markets under the umbrella of his ‘Eating Around Israel’ food tours. His mom instilled a love of cooking and exploring food – it was never just about eating – so it’s no surprise Gavi’s tours delve into Israeli culture at its finest. “Making our way through the shuk, we meet chefs and restaurateurs, hear their stories, but most importantly we eat,” he chirps.Whether it be a steaming-hot empanada from a coal oven, or dim sum served in bamboo steamers, participants truly do eat their way around the country. “I am a proud and openly gay man, and I strongly believe in focused travel: I myself worked as a content writer and tour operator at Outstanding Travel, an Israel-based travel company which focuses on LGBTQ travel. I hope that through my food tours and the food I prepare, I am helping to cross boundaries and bring people together.”
Natalie grew up in Paris and lived in London before settling in Tel Aviv almost a decade ago, where she now lives and hosts the NatFlat Supper Club in her home, just minutes from the beach. Her mom has Persian origins and her dad is British, and when she began collecting cookbooks on her travels, she delved deep into the healing effects of dietary choices. Bringing these all under one roof, she hosts dinner parties for friends, travelers and even celebrities. “My brother is gay, so I’m the ‘A” of the LGBTQA: I think of myself as an ally. I have no room for bigotry, hatred or narrow-mindedness,” she says. Alongside her good vibes, expect fresh breads and dips, salads, soups, fish, chicken, veggie and vegan mains, chocolate creations and fruit-based delights.
Born in Jerusalem, Moti lives and works in the Holy City as a tour guide for Gayrusalem, which sets out to introduce visiting crowds to LGBTQA-friendly Jerusalem eateries. As the news of his popular Jerusalem Gay History trips spread, he became more and more interested in LGBTQA patrons. “Many want to experience the Jerusalem scene, where gay subculture is less obvious than in Tel Aviv,” he says. “I worked as a waiter, and I got to know what guests really want, so it’s important to me to introduce unique cafés, restaurants and bars open to the community.” His hot list of Israel’s capital’s culinary hotspots include Tmol Shilsom, a gay-friendly bookshop and restaurant Rina and Alice, run by a lesbian couple, and even his own kitchen, where he often prepares sweet potatos in the oven with coconut milk, which can also be served as a creamy pasta sauce.
Who run the kitchen? Girls! – Meet Keren Ella Gefen and Yael Sela
The Tel Avivian Habanot (“girls” in Hebrew) is an open-minded home restaurant run by the awesome couple Keren and Yael. Although they often have LGBTQ guests, they are firm believers in Tel Aviv being so gay-friendly that it’s not even necessary to distinguish hotspots by orientation. They have been deep into the local food culture for two decades. Enjoy this secret recipe to give you an idea of what they’re are all about.
Gravlax in Campari and oranges:
Put 3 tablespoons coarse salt, 4 tbsp sugar, 3 tbsp Campari, 2 tbsp fresh orange juice, and the zest of one orange in a container. Mix all the above and place ontop 1 kg of salmon with its skin on, then cover with freshly chopped dill. Leave in the fridge for 24 hours, then turn and wait for another 24 hours. Thinly slice and serve.