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Israeli chef to the world
Posted By Abigail Klein Leichman On March 25, 2012 @ 12:00 am In | No Comments
‘The ambassadors can talk for a year, but one good meal does just as much good,’ says Tel Aviv chef Shaul Ben-Aderet.
Shaul Ben-Aderet’s grandmother didn’t own a television set. So when she minded him while his parents were at work, she stood him on a chair and he helped prepare Iraqi dishes in her Tel Aviv kitchen.
In a way, he’s still standing on that chair.
“When I was four or five, I already knew I would be a cook,” says Ben-Aderet, 48, owner and head chef of three Israeli restaurants. “Some children dream to be a doctor or policeman. Me — just put me in the kitchen.”
True, Grandma probably didn’t make the sort of dishes found on the menu at Kimmel, his flagship French restaurant in the trendy Tel Aviv neighborhood of Neve Tzedek: calamari stuffed with risotto and seafood in cream and garlic; chicken liver paté in calvados, honey and spiced carrot jam; flank steak in pepper, cream and bone marrow; shrimp in butter, Roquefort and nuts.
But the aroma from Ben-Aderet’s cuisine has wafted far and wide. He’s often featured on cooking shows and product promos. Israeli embassies in Brazil, Uruguay and Japan have flown him in to represent Israel at gala dinners. Last July, he and an Arab chef teamed up in an episode of the US Public Broadcasting Service show, Cuisine Culture.
And in January, he cooked a gourmet feast live on Turkish TV.
Whenever he travels, “I come wearing a chef’s shirt with the Israeli flag on it, so I feel like a minor ambassador,” he tells ISRAEL21c. “The ambassadors can talk for a year, but one good meal does just as much good.”
The producers of Israel’s Food Channel teamed up with TurkMax, a leading Turkish lifestyle channel, in their invitation to Ben-Aderet.
“Relations between Israel and Turkey are not so good right now — people are even afraid to go there — so I said to myself, ‘Why not?’ My wife, Orit, thought I was a little crazy, but that’s nothing new.”
His day in Istanbul yielded spinach shakshuka with cream; Caciocavallo cheese and truffles; squash salad with walnuts, mint, cranberries and Gorgonzola cheese; fillet of beef glazed with burned mustard and honey; and an Arab-style cake. Shakshuka is a traditional Israeli breakfast of eggs poached in a spicy tomato and vegetable sauce.
“In the show, I said I will invite the president of Turkey to come to Israel, and I will bring [Israeli President] Shimon Peres there. I said, ‘We’ll make some shakshuka and everything will be okay.’”
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