Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pittsburgh and Akko, Israel: Start of Beautiful Friendship Israeli Chef Working with Culinary Students at Manchester Bidwell Corp

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pittsburgh and Akko, Israel: Start of Beautiful Friendship Israeli Chef Working with Culinary Students at Manchester Bidwell Corp

Article excerpt

Uri Jeremias is hard to miss. With his long, white beard and Santa-like appearance, an unpretentious yet witty personality and a soft-spoken voice that commands a room full of eager students, the well-known Israeli chef is even harder to ignore.

After opening the Akko Center for Arts and Technology in Akko, Israel, last month - Manchester Bidwell Corp.'s first international replication center - MBC invited Mr. Jeremias to Pittsburgh to work with the culinary arts students of Bidwell Training Center on the North Side. He is chef and owner of the famed seafood eatery Uri Buri, which was named the best restaurant in the Middle East by TripAdvisor in 2016.

"I really believe in what they do," Mr. Jeremias said of Manchester Bidwell. "Here, I saw how dedicated the people are and how important this project is [.] and when they invited me I really felt honored and pleased."

Located on the Mediterranean coast in northern Israel, Akko is a very old and complex city with 50,000 people. "Akko is built from so many different kinds of ethnic roots and religious groups - all kinds of Muslims, all kinds of Christians, Jews, newcomers, old comers - it's a full scale of humankind, and living together is the most important task to coexist," Mr. Jeremias said.

The large population of Jews and Palestinians in the coastal town prompted Manchester Bidwell founder and CEO Bill Strickland to select Akko as the site to bring his vision and Pittsburgh-based educational model, which largely targets disadvantaged youth and adults in transition.

This is the first international site, with others already set up in eight U.S. cities beyond Pittsburgh's original.

"Mr. Strickland is an advocate for bringing people from different communities together under the umbrella of respect and dignity, and he feels that his educational model can be a benefit specifically in Israel and specifically in Akko," said Dana Hackley, MBC communications director.

Mr. Jeremias does something similar in Akko but on a one-to-one basis. "He's a big believer in coexistence," said Mark Frank, founder and chair of the Akko Center for Arts and Technology. He's a Pittsburgh attorney at Campbell & Levine and close friend of Mr. Strickland's. Mr. Jeremias "brings in wayward kids, puts them in the kitchen, teaches them that they can create things and gives them self-confidence," he said. …

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