Boasting fresh, tasty vegetables, unique spices and lots of passion, Israel’s culinary scene is a very important part of its culture, but there’s much more to it than food. Israeli dining culture is all about tradition, eclectic combinations and atmosphere. In the past few years, Israel’s fusion cuisine has been taking the world by storm with Israeli restaurants popping up in London, Paris, Berlin, New York and other major cities, proving what Israelis have known for a long time: its chefs are some of the best in the world.
An iconic character in Israeli cuisine known for his poetic passion for food, Shani is one of the most controversial yet most admired chefs in Israel. His four restaurants, as well as his Miznon chain of food served in Pita bread, are some of the hippest restaurants in Tel Aviv. With a unique style of preparing food and serving it in paper bags, as well as calling his dishes funny names like ‘run over potato’, the ingredients used in Shani’s kitchen are the best of the best. You may even stumble upon a day when Miznon doesn’t serve their famous cauliflower because ‘they weren’t fresh enough at the market’. Shani’s Miznon has four branches in Tel Aviv, as well as one in Vienna, Paris, Melbourne and soon in NYC’s Chelsea Market.
Born in Jerusalem, Granit didn’t study cooking in a renowned gastronomic school, but rather, worked his way up in some of Jerusalem’s leading restaurants, as well as in London and Rome. He opened Machneyuda restaurant in 2009, in the same market it was named after, along with partners Uri Navon and Yossi Elad. Still one of the best restaurants in Israel, the brand has expanded to several more restaurants and bars in Jerusalem. Two years ago, the group opened their first restaurant in London, Palomar, which has since won the title of the best restaurant in London twice, and once in Britain. The trio recently opened another restaurant in London, The Barbary, and Balagan in Paris. Beside using Middle Eastern ingredients and cooking methods, these restaurants are known for their Israeli style of hosting, noisiness, messiness and fun.
Ottolenghi is the first chef to introduce the Israeli cuisine in London, and also the only one on this list who doesn’t have a restaurant in Israel. The chef, restaurant owner and food writer studied Comparative Literature at Tel Aviv University before moving to London to study at Le Cordon Bleu. A few years later, he opened his first delicatessen in Notting Hill, which became very popular because of his use of unique combinations and Middle Eastern ingredients. Today, the brand includes three delis, a formal restaurant and a brasserie named Nopi, all in London.
After living in Paris, New York, Nice, Bangkok, Mumbai, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv and a whole range of other destinations, Shahaf Shabtay recently returned to his home country to take over Nithan Thai restaurant in Tel Aviv, one of the best Asian restaurants in the country, as well as another branch in Berlin. His Prague restaurant, Sazazu, which he has left by now, had won a Michelin Star. His incredible understanding of various Asian cuisines is something that cannot be explained, mostly because he mixes ingredients and techniques from different Asian cuisines like no other. Nithan Thai now has two branches in Tel Aviv and in Berlin, but they will probably expand to more locations in the near future.
Adoni was born in Eilat to a Morrocan family, which heavily inspired and influenced him. In addition to studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney, Australia and at Lenotre in Paris, he worked his way up at several restaurants in Israel and around the world. In 2006, he opened Catit restaurant in Tel Aviv, which was chosen by Amex Black Card NY as one of the 50 best restaurants in the world. Since then, he has opened three more restaurants in Israel, two of them Kosher. This year, he opened his first restaurant in New York City called Nur, which so far, has exceeded its expectations and is almost impossible to get a seat at.