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In January 2016 Sidewalk Citizen Bakery started a monthly cultural dinner salon. Called Tzavta, the Hebrew word for the act of sitting together, sharing food and conversation among friends, our vision was to create an intellectual welcoming space. As a bakery whose existence and name was inspired by Jane Jacobs’ sidewalk ballet described in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, we are committed to the public sphere and the city’s cultural fabric.
Inspired by the bread we make, seemingly simple yet inherently complex and requiring skill, diligence and dedication, we curate speakers whose profession and vocation needs to be better understood. Our conversation topics cover all aspects of humanity, culture and science.
We trust in the intelligence of our audience and the imagination of our speakers, and so we ask the former to participate consciously and thoughtfully and the latter to relay their knowledge earnestly. We allow breath for conversation to develop and for meaningful exchange of knowledge and ideas.
For each salon, we create an intricate hearty meal in honour of our speaker inspired by their passion, taste, heritage or whim. Starting with plates to share, a main course and a dessert, the dinners are as diverse as our speakers. We cooked food of specific cuisines and we created fares following a concept: “food for the mind” for a scientist, “colours” for an illustrator, “compassion” for a buddhist author. For each salon we commission an original work of art which is printed on a postcard with the menu for the evening, a keepsake for our guests.
Guests sit in long communal tables to eat together before the conversation begins. They are never complete strangers, sharing the curiosity that brought them and random chance that placed them next to each other. When it’s time for conversation, an easy intimacy enabled by content stomachs frees the minds to partake fully. Connections sprouted at the dinner tables and buzzing network of ideas emanated formed into collaborations.
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“The Tzavta Salon was a gem at the end of a 5 months long book tour around the world. The food was fantastic, the hosts generous, the location beautiful and the audience engagement was surpassing. The Salon was the highlight
of my tour.”
Peter Wohlleben - Author - The Secret Life Of Trees
“Tzavta is a wonderment: a gathering of talented, engaged, energetic people, discussing the things that matter and embodying those things: frankness, fearlessness, affection, curiosity...and celebrating the delights of the senses, especially food-as-gift. I loved my evening there so much and am still, nearly a month later, abuzz with ideas that were raised. I left with a renewed vision of the possibilities of human generosity.”
George Saunders - Author
“The Tzavta salon was amazing. I was surprised and delighted by the level of questions and interest from the audience and the conversation was dynamic and flowing. The food was spectacular and the atmosphere engaged and enthusiastic. I had a great connection with the moderator and I didn’t want it to end. I stayed for another two hours after, drinking beer and making friends.”
Michael Landry, Detection Lead Scientist with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)