Once upon a time, the extent of Israeli cuisine was shawarma, falafel, and hummus. Now, Israel – and in particular, Tel Aviv – boasts a robust culinary scene no less cosmopolitan and dynamic than the likes of London and New York. No better example of this is the return of Round Tables for its third edition in November 2017. It is a festival that matches top international chefs with leading restaurants in Tel Aviv for a series of mouth-watering culinary fusions.
In total, 60 chefs from leading restaurants in 11 countries, including eight restaurants with one or more Michelin stars, travelled to Tel Aviv to collaborate with top establishments that included Coffee Bar, Nithan Thai, and Pastel.
One of the most exciting collaborations was between Bo Bech, the ‘Danish Gordon Ramsay’ from Copenhagen’s renowned Geist restaurant, and Hotel Montefiore, a stylish boutique hotel with one of Tel Aviv’s most highly rated restaurants.
Culture Trip caught up with Bech to get his thoughts on Israel’s food scene.
What do you love about Israeli cuisine?
Israelis worship produce. They have some of the best agri-tech in the world and are growing and cooking with incredible products.
How do the Israeli chefs at the Montefiore differ in style and techniques from other foreign chefs you’ve worked with?
Energetically there are not many differences between chefs in different countries. We are all the same animal. But I would say that Israeli chefs tend to put less emphasis on meticulous, painstaking presentation. They have amazing ingredients which they prepare lovingly and serve without fuss.
Do you think Danish and Scandinavian cuisine could make its way over to Israel?
Well, there are two Danish cuisines, in my eyes. There is the historical cuisine, which, because of the difference in temperatures in our two regions, would never be of interest here. But the more modern approach to cuisine in Denmark, the one that embraces and appreciates and is proud of that which is native to us – I think Israel would find that cuisine delicious and inspiring. But they’ll have to come to Denmark to get it.
From its humble culinary origins, it is clear Israel has come a long way!