South African chefs join call to boycott Israel

South African chefs join call to boycott Israel

22 October 2017


Celebrated and renown South African chefs, Chris Erasmus of Foilage in Franschoek and Ozzy Osman of “Ozzy’s Kitchen” in Sandton have joined prominent international chefs and restauranteurs in calling on their colleagues, through an open letter, to withdraw from the upcoming Israeli Round Tables culinary festival. The cooking festival, taking place between the 29th of October 2017 and 17th of November 2017, is sponsored by the Israeli government. The festival is also in partnership with Dan Hotels, which has an Israeli hotel built in an illegal settlement on stolen Palestinian land.


Following the calls to boycott the Israeli cooking festival, one of the 14 Chefs, Chef JP McMahon of Ireland and owner of the Michelin-starred Galway restaurant Aniar, has withdrawn his participation (click here).


The open letter signed by several prominent Chefs reads:


“As chefs, our work is about creating inspiring, beautiful culinary experiences. The quality of the food we serve is dependent on the integrity of our process — from ethically sourced ingredients, to fair working conditions, to partnering with principled associates. This is true both locally and globally. This [Israeli] Round Tables culinary festival is no place for chefs who care about indigenous peoples having access to their farm lands and traditional food ways. While the Israeli government sponsors international chefs to cook delights in Tel Aviv, just a few miles away it continues to deny Palestinians their livelihoods, push families from their lands and limit access to water. It also continues to besiege nearly two million Palestinians in Gaza, where it uses a “calorie count” to control the amount of food each Palestinian is permitted to consume.

We ask our fellow chefs to join the growing number of respected artists and other cultural figures who have distanced themselves from similar events aimed at masking Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. We appeal to your conscience and urge you to not add any garnish to Israeli apartheid, and to refrain from participating in the [Israeli] Round Tables culinary festival until Israel respects its international law obligations and Palestinian human rights. Instead, let’s stand in solidarity with those struggling for food justice and for dignity and freedom for all.” Click here to read the full letter by the international chefs to their counterparts.

The open letter by the Chefs has also been supported by over 180 civil society organizations, NGOs and human rights groups from across the world including several pro-Palestinian Jewish organizations (click here for a list of organizational endorsements).


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We are calling on you for your support in three very simple actions (takes no more than 5-minutes). The chefs that are slated to participate in the upcoming Israeli festival belong to well known restaurants that are easily contactable. Here are three ways you can join in and support this call:


Make a protest reservation

During the 1980s, in the boycott of apartheid South Africa, activists in the international community would fill their trollies with groceries, ring up the items at the check-out tills but then cancel their purchase in protest against that store’s links to Israel. In the digital age (and in the restaurant context) we can take similar actions:

                1. Call the restaurant that one of the participating chefs belongs to and make a reservation (click here to find a list of the participating restaurants/chefs).

2. Then, either call the restaurant a few hours before or go to the restaurant at the time the reservation is to take place to cancel your booking in protest.

3. Explain that you found out that the chef is being flown to Tel Aviv by the Israeli government to participate in Round Tables and that you find it unethical to normalize Israel’s control of food to Palestinians, therefore you changed your mind about eating there.

B. Write a review on Trip Advisor and Google Maps

Initiatives like the Slow Food Movement and Farm-To-Table show that customers nowadays care for more than just food. They want to know where their food comes from, whether it is sustainable and whether the restaurant is ethical. Let’s leave honest and original reviews on TripAdvisor and Google Maps for the restaurants (of the Chefs that are participating in the Israeli RoundTables festival).  If the chef cancels, you can change your review so this is not permanent! Click here to find a list of the participating restaurants/chefs.

C. Appeal to the chefs via social media

Join us on social media in calling on the chefs not to cater to Israeli apartheid. You can help by sending a principled, unique and creative message/appeal on social media calling on the chefs to cancel their participation. Send them messages on Twitter or via their FB pages with the hashtag #ApartheidRoundTables. Click here for the Twitter handles and FB pages of Chefs scheduled to be in Israel.





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