Andrew Zimmern and Sameh Wadi in political Twitter spat: How much do we want to know about our celebrity chefs?

wadi map.jpg
Controversial globe shot: Can you spot what's missing?
As contentious debates go, the dispute between Palestine and Israel is right up there near the top. Many lives have been lost and a peace accord has been elusive. It's not a discussion one would expect to be addressed between two chefs, on either side of the divide, aired over social media, but that is exactly what happened yesterday. 

It came to light that chef Sameh Wadi of Saffron and World Street Kitchen had posted a picture of a globe on his Facebook page showing Palestine but not Israel. His accompanying caption read, "We need more world maps that are correct, such as this one!" Wadi is of Palestinian origin. When one "friend" pointed out, "This 'map' is missing Israel..." Wadi responded, "Exactly the way that this should be." Television personality and fellow chef Andrew Zimmern saw the picture and publicly called out Wadi.

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Zimmern objected to Wadi's creative cartography
Zimmern shared the map with his followers on the site Instagram. The question he posed to Wadi was, "Care to explain your comment at top? Do you deny existence of Israel? Or just want it to go away?" Zimmern is of Jewish decent. 

What followed was a clenched-jaw type of courteous debate, in which Wadi explained that this was something he posted on his personal Facebook page, which had nothing to do with his restaurant, Saffron, the Twitter handle he used to respond. He further explained, "Of course I don't deny the existence of israel, i'm merely showing the existence of palestine on the world map." 

Both chefs agreed to meet in person, and Zimmern ended the discussion with a compliment to Wadi and his restaurant to Zimmern's over 400,000 Twitter followers.

Wadi: Is Facebook a private discussion?
The Twitter platform allows what might have been a quiet discussion to take place in public, with hundreds (or in Zimmern's case hundreds of thousands) of people watching.  Chef Stewart Woodman of Heidi's, also of Jewish descent, weighed in with a quip: "Should we call him Chef Ahmadinejad? zilla"

Beyond the Middle East debate, the conversation left us wondering: How much do we expect of our chefs as they move from the kitchen to the television screen? Wadi has appeared on the Food Network's Iron Chef America, and Andrew Zimmern's face is internationally known from his successful television shows and commercial appearances. As they become personalities, do we expect a shift?

How much personality do we want to see from these talented people who go from the relative anonymity of a local restaurant kitchen to standing under the glare of a spotlight on TV, Twitter, and Facebook? Where is the line between personal and personality?

Join the discussion below.

Location Info

Saffron Restaurant & Lounge

123 N. 3rd St., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Restaurant


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20 comments
unclesam389
unclesam389

Sameh Wadi and Stuart Woodman can both suck it. Samehs an anti semite, which is funny cus im pretty sure hes like a wealthy middle eastern kid, its not like hes in gaza. Oh and stuart woodman is the most miserable chef on earth, which is saying something. Also WSK might be the most obnoxious restaurant concept Ive ever had the misfortune of walking by.

CLar
CLar

Wadi is entitled to his opinion, of course, but one thing that continues to bother me about people who say controversial things is that they seem to think they're immune to any consequences from their words. If Wadi wants to make political statements in public, that's fine, but to think that it wouldn't have any impact on his business, just because he put it on his "personal" Facebook page, is just plain stupid. Facebook is not private. The more in the public eye you are the more your statements are going to be heard and criticized--if you can't handle that criticism, or the potential fallout from your words, keep your conversations among your own family and friends. It doesn't matter whether you're a chef or any other type of celebrity--have all the personality you want, just be prepared to deal with the consequences (both good and bad) of expressing it in public.

DBCooper
DBCooper

I see.  When City Pages, Star Tribune, or another publication in town write a story on Saffron, it's OK for them to make at least half the story, if not more, about Chef Wadi.  However, when chef Wadi says something offensive in regards to his solution to the Jewish question, that is just Chef Wadi speaking personally and it has no relation to Saffron.  Saffron is all about Chef Wadi and his vision, skills, and demand for excellence except when he says something offensive at which point Chef Wadi has nothing to do with Saffron.

 

Shame on your City Pages.  You're letting him off way too easy here for what he said.

morchellampls
morchellampls

The Palestine-Israel conflict is deep and complicated.  But that doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about it and try to find a solution.   The discussion in the media was inflammatory and it appears the discussion at the table was civil.  Why is this? 

Louse
Louse

ethanethan: "…subsequent genocide of the Palestinian people." And I suppose Israel's neighbors in 1967 didn't have genocide in mind when they avowed to wipe Israel off the map. 

 

truckloadbear: "…and a complete unknown." Complete unknown? You really want to go with that in reference to one of the hottest - and most visible - chefs in the region over the last several years? Perhaps you should get out of the suburbs and discover life beyond Chilis and Applebees. It's better to remain silent and thought a fool...

 

ethanethan
ethanethan

That food jockey should shut his mouth before he starts a fight he can't win. That is an older map that recognized Palestine as a state before Israel's creation and subsequent genocide of the Palestinian people. 

truckloadbear
truckloadbear

So we have a spat between one guy the public knows as the "fat dude who eats weird shit on tv" and a complete unknown. Whoop-de-fucking-do. Slow news day I guess.

Eliza Lathrop
Eliza Lathrop

I like both local chefs, I even know Wadi's family, but I think politics should be a private affair and not part of culinary discussion.

Sebastian Galdames
Sebastian Galdames

Only one way to settle this! Given em both knives and lock em in the cooler!!!!

mkooiman
mkooiman

I think the line was not only crossed but obliterated many years ago, with the rise of "celebreality."

JonnyBeGoode
JonnyBeGoode

 @CLar - very much agree with you - it relates to  his business because he has views and he runs his business.  One can argue that Israel is a country created by the league of nations, and there are many ways of debating it's existence without being overwhelmingly political - but this goes beyond that.

kenny1
kenny1

 @DBCooper Because it is politically incorrect for ChikFil-A to bash gay marriage, but it is OK for Wadi to bash Jews.  The funny thing?  Wadi is a Muslim....I wonder what his thoughts on Gay marriage is?  LOL!

JonnyBeGoode
JonnyBeGoode

 @morchellampls The solution is that people need to be tolerate and spread tolerance, I feel that governments are far from agreeing to this as they tend be powered by greed.

 

BigHerbDickerson
BigHerbDickerson

 @Louse i live in a suburb.  who the fuck are you?  and what's your fucking point?  pretentious asshole...

IfAmericansKnew
IfAmericansKnew

 @Louse And, Louse, that genocide of the Palestinians continues to this day--as we witnessed in 2008 when Operation Cast Lead featured white phosphorus (a chemical weapon and illegal under the Geneva Accords) being dropped on Palestinian civilians by Israel--whereas Israel enjoys endless streams of foreign aid and assistance from the US, such as that  $70 billion US package that Obama just signed off on.  But  wait, I suppose Israel's welfare is SO much more important than silly ol' American needs like health care, education, infrastructure and the like.  If (only) Americans Knew.  Look it up.

truckloadbear
truckloadbear

 @Louse Hey, if you love paying 10X the price for pretty much the same thing you can get at Holy Land knock yourself out. As for your shitty little comment about where I live...my balcony overlooks the Mississippi so piss off.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

 @IfAmericansKnew  @Louse Both Israel and Palenstine are terrible.  Neither side is blameless in what a mess this is.  Idiots that pretend its all Israel or Palenstine are making it impossible to achieve peace.  

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