March 2023

2023 Rules and Rituals: the Meals

Knife and fork at the ready!  

This year’s communal meals, masterminded  by Meals Co-ordinator, Trustee Gamze Ineceli, will be prepared, as usual, by our invited chefs in the kitchen at St Catherine’s working with the College’s Head Chef Tim Kelsey. 

Our lunch and dinner programme – designed (as always) to reflect and expand on the year’s subject – is shaping up as best-ever.  Meanwhile, Director Ursula Heinzelmann promises we won’t go thirsty.  

Friday’s inaugural dinner is in the capable hands of Lebanon’s most prominent food activist, Kamal Mouzawak. The founding-father of Lebanon’s first farmers market ‘Souk el Tayeb’ is recipient to accolades such as Prince Klaus Laureate 2016 and Foodics Icon Award for Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022.

For Saturday lunch we’ll be welcoming back Simi Rezai, writer, teacher and founder of Simi’s Kitchen in Bath – last year’s ‘Portable Food’ Symposiasts will remember her fine paper on dried yoghourt, Qurut

The menu for Saturday’s dinner is – well – whatever magic happens when Micha Schäfer, Head Chef at Nobelhart & Schmutzig in Berlin, sees what’s arrived from the Oxford region on the day. The Michelin star restaurant is right up there with best-in-the-world, ranking 17 on The World’s 50 Best list in 2022.  


Kamal Mouzawak, the culinary changemaker grew up in the gardens and kitchens of Lebanon, tasting life, food and land fruits at their source before creating Beirut’s first farmers’ market, Souk El Tayeb (2004) which works to preserve food traditions and the culture of sustainable agriculture in Lebanon. Over the last twenty years, Souk El Tayeb has evolved from a weekly farmers’ market into the creation of  ‘Tawlet’, kitchen style restaurant in Beirut as well as throughout Lebanon and most recently in Paris. Tawlet, a network of Farmers’ Kitchens where cooks tell their stories and traditions through authentic home cooking is designed to showcase the richness and diversity of Lebanon’s regional culinary traditions, promoting local ingredients while encouraging cooks to rediscover old recipes. Kamal’s mission has been clear to him since the beginning. “I was always anxious to do something to change the world”, he says, “I follow what Gandhi said: Be the change you want to see”.

Simi Rezaiwriter, cookery teacher and demonstrator of Persian-Azeri cuisine, was born in Iran and raised in Anglesey, North Wales.  For the last fourteen years she has been hosting supper clubs and teaching cooking classes with an emphasis on the cooking of the Silk Route in Simi’s Kitchen in Bath. For her lunch on Saturday, Simi plans an edible demonstration of the tradition of giving thanks for good fortune (perhaps for the recovery from illness of a child or some other important event that affects an individual household) through food-offerings, in much the same spirit as, following the Persian tradition, as votive-offerings taken to places of worship. The dishes themselves are prepared with the greatest possible care using the best available ingredients, and are distributed around the neighbourhood as well as to the needy.  Recipients either bring their own containers to the doorstep to be filled, or the ready-cooked dishes are  delivered direct around the neighbourhood. Communities are aware of these local events, and look forward to them each year.

Micha Schäfer was studying theology at university when he realised that what he really wanted to do was cook. Washing-up didn’t last long, and his break came at the Villa Merton – the only establishment in Germany that celebrated a restricted, regional kitchen at the time – when Head Chef Matthias Schmidt invited Micha to lead the  restaurant’s creative process…..Which led, in 2015, to an invitation to wield the big spoon in restaurateur Billy Wagner’s Nobelhart & Schmutzig in Berlin, an appointment that perfectly reflects this innovative chef’s culinary philosophy. In addition to their hyperlocality, the dishes are minimalistic, in search of a purity that gently but persistently nudges you to reflect on the origins of what you are being presented with. “Cooking is only interesting when you start thinking and creating — through restrictions,” explains Micha. “That’s why the ‘brutal lokal,’ vocally local approach made sense to me. But that’s also how I eat myself; I like things on their own, quite bare. I am not trying to rebel against anything or anyone; my food is the reflection of who I am right now. I put a strong priority on innovation, not least in my ability to evoke a true sense of place, and thus send our guests on an emotional journey through taste.”

Our final meal of the weekend will acknowledge a Ritual, now in its third year: Sunday lunch will be prepared by our Young Chefs with Korean born former opera singer, ceramic artist and chef Jinok Kim-Eicken as their source of inspiration.

More about our plans in following posts…