A cocktail party aboard the Jerusalem Light Rail is one of more than 60 workshops, tours, tastings, food-tech demos, dinner parties and culinary lectures planned for the first-ever Open Restaurants Jerusalem, November 22-26, 2016.

Entrepreneur Merav Oren launched Open Restaurants Tel Aviv in 2014 in partnership with Aviva Levinson, the female half of the husband-wife duo that produces the popular annual Open House tours in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

“Open Restaurants is a culinary celebration of dozens of restaurants in the city,” the organizers noted. “They will be opening their doors for an unusual and unique opportunity that will give visitors the chance to see, taste and touch the world of restaurants in a way that isn’t usually available.”

As with Open House, some of the events are free and others charge a fee; click here for details.

Among the city’s top chefs who agreed to share their expertise with the public are Moshe and Roni Basson (Eucalyptus), Avi Levy (Hamotzi), Marcus Gershkovitz (Angelica) and Liraz Sadeh (Brasserie Ein Karem). Upscale hotels including the Gordonia, Waldorf-Astoria, Herbert Samuel, Alegra and American Colony are hosting visitors for special culinary sessions.

Chef Nir Zook of Mapu in Jerusalem. Photo by Tomer Foltyn
Chef Nir Zook of Mapu in Jerusalem. Photo by Tomer Foltyn

In one of the more unusual events planned during Open Restaurant week, on November 25 four celebrated Jerusalem chefs — Assaf Granit (Machneyuda), Nir Zook (Mapu), Yahaloma Levi (Yahaloma) and Nana Schreier (Nanuchka) — each will lead a tour at the Israel Museum, pointing out works of art that inspire his or her cuisine.

Especially for English-speakers

At Abraham Hostel at 8:30pm November 23, Nomi Abeliovich will speak in English about her research and consultancy role in the making of Jerusalem: A Cookbook, the bestselling book and documentary highlighting the cuisine of Israel-born British chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

Open Restaurants offers four culinary tours for adults and one for children at Machane Yehuda market led by English-speaking guides.

Bitemojo, a recent graduate of the MassChallenge Israel accelerator, is launching the Jerusalem edition of its self-guided food tours app during Open Restaurants.

“The city of Jerusalem is full of culinary, cultural and entertainment surprises,” said Noam Rizi, representative of the Association of Restaurants, Bars and Cafes in Jerusalem. “Dozens of Israel’s first-class restaurants, bars and cafés are scattered throughout the alleys and compounds of this city. We welcome the decision of the Open Restaurants projects to visit our wonderful, special city.”

From candy to cocktails

On November 23 and 24, Roladin at the Mamilla Mall will host children’s baking workshops, where they’ll make items such as donuts and gingerbread bears.

On November 24, children are invited to the “Science and Chocolate” tour and workshop at Bloomfield Science Museum.

Food innovation on display in Jerusalem. Photo by Tomer Foltyn
Food innovation on display in Jerusalem. Photo by Tomer Foltyn

That afternoon, a 23-hour hackathon for culinary and hospitality apps will be get underway at the headquarters of MassChallenge Israel adjacent to the Machane Yehuda shuk. On Friday morning there’ll be an innovation conference at the office. Both events are open to the public.

On November 26, food designer and chef Ido Garini will lead Sweet Sins, an experiential culinary exhibition premiering at the Tower of David Museum.

Sweet Sins, a culinary exhibition by chef Ido Garini. Photo: courtesy
Sweet Sins, a culinary exhibition by chef Ido Garini. Photo: courtesy

A cocktail party with live music and munchies is planned for November 22 aboard the light rail, starting at the Ammunition Hill station at 8:30pm. At the end of the line at Mount Herzl, riders can enjoy the view over Jerusalem while sampling gourmet noshes prepared by Elran Buzaglo, chef of Adom. Everyone will receive a goodie bag of sweets for the journey back to Ammunition Hill.

Cocktail party aboard the Jerusalem light rail. Photo: courtesy
Cocktail party aboard the Jerusalem light rail. Photo: courtesy

Speaking of drinks, Herzl beer is offering a peek into its facilities, Beer Bazaar has a culinary and beer-pairing dinner and Hasadna bar has mixologist Doron Yakobovich leading a workshop in cocktails and food pairings.

For tickets and further details click here.

Here’s a video about Open Restaurants Tel Aviv over the past three years, involving 18 restaurants and artisans. Next year’s event in Tel Aviv is not yet scheduled.