It was three days after the final FoodTrip, the three-week food truck cultural experience created by the Jerusalem Season of Culture with chef Assaf Granit. Granit, the head chef at Machneyuda, a popular bistro in the Machane Yehuda market, sounded a bit hoarse.
He’s allowed some exhaustion, having finished cooking 23 nights of dinners, some 500 servings each day, from within the tight confines of a food van set up at a different Jerusalem location each day.
The event, said Karen Brunwasser, a founder and deputy director of the Jerusalem Season of Culture, came off pretty much as planned; Granit serving up local, family-style food with a different guest chef each day, with diners showing up after having received a text message or email in the morning revealing that day’s location. But if you’re planning on trying it out next year, you’re out of luck. This was a one-year only event.
Why did you choose to work together on this?
Granit: ”I loved the challenge of cooking in a van, it was my first time and it was easier than I thought. (They prepared much of the food each night, working with a local kosher catering company.) And the van was interesting to me in terms of the social, communal aspects, rather the actual culinary challenge.”
Brunwasser: ”We’ve always had a kinship with Assaf. We worked with him at Contact Point at the Israel Museum last year, when we did a dinner around contemporary art, and we realized that he’s an artist and a choreographer, with a great sense of timing. We wanted to keep working with him.”
What was the overall concept behind FoodTrip?
Brunwasser: “We’re always trying to explore the different stories of Jerusalem, and we see food as part of culture.
It’s something that creates common ground more than other things, and more easily. Even in times of tension, people go and eat hummus on the other side of town. And there was the fact that Machneyuda and Assaf are a phenomenon in Jerusalem, doing what we’re trying to do, which is to unleash the attributes of Jerusalem in a contemporary way.”
What surprised you about it?
Granit: ”The best part about it was meeting the people, those I cooked with and those who came to eat. I got to meet people I don’t get to meet every day, and I loved that people came and ate and said thanks.”
Why did you choose a food van for this culinary experience?
Granit: “We’re the first food truck in Israel, which we don’t have here because it’s hard to get the permits. I liked it, but I’m not planning on opening a food truck of my own anytime soon.”
Brunwasser: “Itay [Mautner, the JSOC director] had this idea that in this vein of seeing Jerusalem through culture we could do that through food and personal stories, bringing it out into the neighborhoods and then making it kosher and hallal and really inexpensive so it could be accessed by everyone.”
Anything that went differently than you expected?
Granit: “I expected there would be more of an Arab audience as well, especially when we were closer to East Jerusalem, and that was disappointing. There were also days when I could not believe the number of people who showed up.”
Brunwasser: “We realized the blogs being written by the guest chefs couldn’t just stay on the website, and we’re going to compile the best of the blogs and stories and recipes into a book that will come out around Pesach.”
Any chance you’ll reconsider about next year?