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Gefiltefest: Eat, drink, listen, cook, share and be merry

Founder Michael Leventhal sets out his stall for this year's celebration of Jewish food

    The Gefiltefest 2013 cook-off (left to right) Simon Goldhill, Josh Zaitchek, Clive Lawton (judge), Eran Tibi, Giancarlo Caldesi (judge)
    The Gefiltefest 2013 cook-off (left to right) Simon Goldhill, Josh Zaitchek, Clive Lawton (judge), Eran Tibi, Giancarlo Caldesi (judge)

    This year will mark the fifth Gefilte-fest festival. The first, in October 2010, was organised in just six weeks and attracted 200 visitors.

    That has more than tripled - last year's festival at the London Jewish Cultural Centre attracted more than 600 people and this year we expect more again as well as more than 25 food stalls.

    Food matters to Jewish people. Eating is more than a necessity or casual enjoyment; it is a regular expression of our culture, philosophy, history and, for some, our spirituality.

    The festival, sponsored by the JC, seems also to have inspired others across the globe. Communities around the world are hosting events based on the Gefiltefest model. People have started to appreciate that food is an important way of uniting groups to celebrate our history and culture.

    The first Sydney Jewish Food Festival in Australia last year was a sellout success. In the US, the charity Hazon now runs Gefiltefest-style one-day food festivals.

    Back here, the thriving Jewish food scene has begun to appeal to both Jewish and non-Jewish diners. Restaurant 1701 is the first kosher establishment to be included in the Michelin guide.

    JW3's Zest restaurant has garnered brilliant reviews and attracts people from across the Jewish spectrum as well as a regular troop of Japanese ladies who lunch. Seeing that group of ladies at a table dining next to Orthodox Jews is a rare but inspiring sight.

    Gefiltefest is a charity that aims to inspire people to think differently about Jewish food: our food really matters and it should be celebrated.

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