Welcome to another installation of the Ohev Sholom’s KosherFest Blog. I will be posting a three part interview with Israeli Chef Moshe Basson.
His culinary roots stretch back to approximately 200 C.E. He is know as a food folklorist, a wild and native food activist and also known as “the biblical chef”. Chef Moshe Basson was born in Iraq in 1950. He grew up in an immigrant transit camp in Jerusalem. He opened his first restaurant named Eucalyptus in 1988. The restaurant was named after the tree he planted on Tu Bishvat as a child and his restaurant was built on the same spot in the Talpiot neighborhood in Jerusalem. The restaurant was later moved to Horkanos Street which was a more central location. After the second intifadah began, Eucalyptus had to close its doors. Now, the restaurant has reopened again on Horkanos Street.
Chef Moshe has been involved in the Slow Food Movement and won a Slow Food Couscous competition in Sicily. He is also involved in Chefs for Peace which is a group of chefs from various religious and cultural backgrounds committed to peaceful coexistence and culinary excellence.
Part One of the interview with Chef Moshe Basson
Chef Moshe, can you tell me how you became involved with Ohev Sholom’s KosherFest?
One day I received an email. It did not have a subject and I did not know who it was from. I was afraid to open it. I finally had the courage to open the email. The email was from Meredith Farnan from Congregation Ohev Sholom. The email stated that she and others wanted to help support the economy in Israel. My restaurant was closed because of the intifadah. Meredith invited us to come to the United States to make money to take back to Israel. I decided to come to the United States with my son. Meredith offered her home to me an my son for a month. Eventually, we became like family. I came to make money for myself and Israel but I also helped Congregation Ohev Sholom. It has been a great family relationship.
Have you had a chance to visit Chef Moshe’s restaurant in Jerusalem? If so, tell us about your experience.