Open Letter To Gabrielle Hamilton & Other Chefs In Israel's Round Tables Festival
More than 85 chefs, food writers and food industry figures urge participating chefs in Israel's Round Tables culinary propaganda festival to withdraw.
Please click here for a statement from the letter's organizers on current context.
Update from letter organizers: Gabrielle Hamilton has withdrawn from Israel’s Round Tables "gastro-diplomacy" festival
To the remaining 5 chefs in this year's Round Tables: Judy Joo, Maca De Castro, Elena Reygadas, Leo Espinosa and Tanja Grandits we hope that you will join Gabrielle Hamilton in withdrawing from the festival.
Ana Roš, chef at Hiša Franko in Slovenia, cancelled her participation and events for Isa Mazzocchi, chef at Ristorante La Palta in Italy, are no longer listed on the Round Tables website.
It is not too late for you to make a principled decision. We know the challenges of changing plans, the work that goes into events like this, and the contracts that are signed. We also know that none of this is as important as the protection of human rights and lives.
We are inviting you to respond to the Palestinian women, farmer, and worker organizations who have asked us for support and their Israeli allies taking a stand beside them.
You have a chance now to join Gabrielle Hamilton in detaching your name from this Israeli government-sponsored culinary event. In doing this, you can assert that our values around good food must include everyone, including the Palestinian people.
We hope you will not allow your cooking skills to be used to cover-up apartheid and military occupation.
To the chefs participating in Israel’s Round Tables food festival;
We are all people who work in the food industry in the United States. We are chefs, restaurateurs, food writers, managers, farmers, and more. We strive for a more sustainable and more equitable food system and support each other in finding concrete ways to better align our business practices with our values.
We have learned of your upcoming participation in Israel’s Round Tables culinary festival and ask you to please cancel. We are adding our voices to those of the Palestinian women, farmer, and worker organizations who have called for this and their Israeli allies.
We ask you to do so because as professionals committed to food sovereignty and food access for ALL, we know that none of us can lend our names or our cooking skills to an Israeli government-sponsored culinary event such as this one. Our values around good food must include everyone, including the Palestinian people.
For decades, Palestinians have been fighting against policies similar to ones many of us are protesting now in the U.S. The Trump administration is attempting to take away the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe reservation land and has attacked the lives and freedom of thousands of immigrants. We stand in solidarity with those under attack here in the US and with the Palestinians who are protesting the same administration’s ongoing support of Israel’s discriminatory policies, including Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
Events such as Round Tables are part of a larger “Brand Israel” campaign to help the Israeli government normalize its ongoing denial of Palestinian rights. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has poured resources into this campaign with the explicit intention to improve Israel’s image abroad and silence outrage over its massacres and war crimes.
While Israel hosts international chefs in Tel Aviv for Round Tables, the Israeli military will be counting the calories allowed into Gaza only 40 miles away, keeping the entire population on a state-sanctioned starvation diet. Palestinians’ farmlands will continue to be expropriated for illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank; their homes and olive orchards demolished; and traditional Palestinian foods, including falafel, hummus, tahini, and zaatar, will continue to be claimed and marketed as Israeli. This continues on while Palestinian residents within Israel are treated as second-class citizens, a status reaffirmed legally by the recently passed Nation State Law.
Round Tables describes itself as “a cultural project, an honorary member of the gastro-diplomacy movement which advocates cultural, economic and political dialogue through gastronomy, maintaining that the easiest way to win hearts and minds is through the stomach.” This year the festival is focusing on “female chefs” in a “special edition” of the festival.
The struggle for equality and safety for women in the food industry and society as a whole should not be manipulated to serve the agendas of oppressive governments, in the U.S, Israel, or anywhere. We believe that no dignified chef wants to be used to win people’s hearts and minds over to the cause of apartheid and military occupation.
We have drawn inspiration for this letter from the stance NFL player Michael Bennett took when he cancelled a similarly sponsored trip to Israel, refusing to be used by the U.S. or Israeli governments as an “influencer” in support of their right-wing, racist agendas. We were educated and encouraged by the open letter asking NFL players to cancel their participation, signed by Alice Walker, Harry Belafonte, Angela Davis and many other important leaders within the U.S.
In the past two years, Michelin-starred Irish chef JP McMahon, top chef Mitsuharu Tsumura and Danish-Bolivian chef Kamilla Seidler cancelled their participation in the festival after appeals from human rights defenders.
We ask you to take a stand against the erasure of an indigenous people and cancel your participation at the Round Tables festival in Israel. We recognize that this may be difficult given whatever contracts you may have already signed. But to be principled means sometimes taking losses so that we can all win in the end.
Bennett quoted 1968 Olympian John Carlos as guidance for his decision: “There is no partial commitment to justice. You are either in or you’re out.” We hope you are in.
Amanny Ahmad, artist, chef, forager, Palestinian
Yessi Alexander, manager and cook
Gabriela Álvarez, founder and chef, Liberation Cuisine
Mary Ellen Amato, chef/owner, Rita
Reem Assil, chef/owner, Reem's California
George Azar, chef/owner, Flowers of Vietnam
M. Karlos Baca, I-Collective, founder of Taste of Native Cuisine
Maxwell Bernstein, operations manager and bread baker, She Wolf Bakery
Alexandre Borghetti, co-founder/president, RADUNO
Warda Bouguettaya, owner + pastry chef, Warda Pâtisserie, Detroit
Cole Carothers, member-owner, Khao'na Kitchen
Jess V. Castillo
Kimberly Chou Tsun An, co-director, Food Book Fair
Aaron Crowder, chef/partner, Cervo’s
Kia Damon, Executive Chef, Lalito
Alex Dang, bar manager, Ida B’s Table
Devita Davison, executive director, FoodLab Detroit
Sabrina De Sousa, Dimes
Lee Desrosiers, chef at large
Angela Dimayuga, chef, Creative Director of Food & Culture, Standard Hotels
Marisa Dobson, consultant and organizer
Neftalí Duran, I Collective
Rebecca Eichenbaum, pastry chef, Wythe Hotel
Christina Ermilio, bread baker
Devonn Francis, owner, Yardy NYC
Ethan Frisch, co-founder/co-owner, Burlap & Barrel
Gerardo Gonzalez, chef, formerly El Rey and Lalito
Jon Gray, co-founder, Ghetto Gastro
Ben Hall, chef/owner, Russell Street Deli — Eastern Market
Sara Elise Hardman, owner + creative director, Harvest & Revel
Michaela Hayes-Hodge, co-founder + farmer, Rise & Root Farm
Soleil Ho, writer, Racist Sandwich
Stephanie Hsu, organizer, Charm City Night Market
Hidden Acres Farm, Inc. of Tolland, Connecticut
Ben Jackson, chef, Drifters Wife
Sana Javeri Kadri, founder & CEO, Diaspora Co.
Mea Johnson, Baker, Olio Culinary Collective
Leah Kirts, co-host Food Without Borders, freelance food writer
Sara Kramer, chef/owner, Kismet
Oriana Koren, photographer-writer, Authority Collective
Chris Kronner, KronnerBurger
Agatha Kulaga, founder, Ovenly
Trevor Kunk, Chef Director
Zaid Kurdieh, Norwich Meadows Farm
Maritza Abreu, owner, Puerto Viejo Dominican Bistro and Pisqueya
Megan Larmer, program director and researcher
Christina Lecki, executive chef, Reynard
Joy Liu-Trujillo, chef/owner Mudita Ramen
Munira Lokhandwala, FERMENT co-coordinator + Dream Cafe
Katy McNulty, founder + special events director, The Pixie and The Scout
Ben Miller & Cristina Martinez, South Philly Barbacoa
Klancy Miller, cookbook author
Preeti Mistry, chef, writer
Elizabeth Murray, director of HR + communications, The Marlow Collective & co-founder, Women in Hospitality United
Shilpa Nandwani, member-owner, Khao'na Kitchen
Danny Newberg, Joint Venture
Jessie Nicely, chef, Burmese, Please!
Alicia Parter, chef
Daniel Patterson, Alta Group
Laurie Ellen Pellicano, culinary consultant and recipe developer
People's Kitchen Collective
Cal Peternell, cook, author, host of Cooking By Ear podcast
Anya Peters, chef, Kit an’ Kin
Tu David Phu, chef
Jocelyn Ramirez, chef and founder, Todo Verde
Tara Rodríguez Besosa, founder/creative director, El Departamento de la Comida
David Santos, chef/owner, Um Segredo Supper Club
Stephen Satterfield, Whetstone Magazine
Pierre Serrao, chef/partner, Ghetto Gastro
Brant Shapiro, Norwich Meadows Farm
Yong Shin, Insa
Shakirah Simley, community organizer
Kristina Stanley, I-collective, founder of Abaaso Foods
Gabriella S. Stern, manager
Max Sussman, Samesa (NYC)
Julia Turshen, cookbook author
Desiree Tuttle, chef, Achilles Heel
Chinchakriya Un, Kreung Cambodia
Mary Vaughan, bartender, assistant sommelier
Diana A. Voicu, student, cook, food activist
Rose Weiss, chef and worker organizer
Tunde Wey, chef, writer
Ora Wise, culinary director, Dream Cafe
Amanda Yee, chef, The Blues Woman
Pamela Yung, itinerant cook
Sohail Zandi, chef/owner, Brushland Eating House
Cleopatra Zuli, founder, BLK PALATE