Wearing shoes indoors and while dining is frowned upon in Japanese culture, but it appears that nobody filled in Israeli celebrity chef Moshe Segev.
Segev thought it was a good idea to serve Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a chocolate dessert in a metal shoe during a dinner attended by Abe, his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and their wives at Netanyahu’s home.
So proud was Segev of his creation that he even took to Instagram to share a snap of the dish, which he dubbed “chocolate selection from the world.”
But diplomats from both countries were unimpressed.
One Israeli diplomat, who previously served in Japan, dubbed it “a stupid and insensitive decision,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
“There is nothing more despised in Japanese culture than shoes. Not only do they not enter their houses while wearing shoes, you will not find shoes in their offices either. Even the prime minister, ministers and members of parliament do not wear shoes to work,” the diplomat was quoted as saying.
“It is equivalent to serving a Jewish guest chocolates in a dish shaped like a pig.”
A Japanese diplomat opined that serving a dish in a shoe was out of step with universal dining norms regardless of nationality.
“No culture puts shoes on the table. What precisely was this illustrious chef Segev thinking?” the diplomat said, according to the Jerusalem Post. “I can tell you that we are offended for our prime minister.”
It’s not the first time Segev has cooked meals at the Netanyahus’ when they’re hosting foreign dignitaries, but many on Instagram suggested that it should be his last.
“You’ve made your greatest fiasco ever. The nation will never forget this, Segev. I truly loved you. You should be ashamed,” commented one Instagram user.
Others were more forgiving towards Segev, however, and suggested that Netanyahu’s staff were to blame for not flagging the faux-pas.
“It’s not the job of a chef to learn each culture. The people who need to research the culture of their guest and follow protocols are at fault,” one user commented.
“I’m sure you meant well but this is tasteless. That said, the PM’s office should have given you advice on the menu ahead of time,” said another.
However, the Times of Israel reported that Abe and his wife thoroughly enjoyed the meal, chocolate-filled shoes and all, and even invited Segev to cook for them in Japan.
Segev, a popular restaurateur and TV personality, is yet to comment on the fiasco.