A celebrity chef goes kosher

Moshe Segev, who has cooked for prime min­is­ter, bucks trend and opens new eatery in Beer­sheba

Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By AMY SPIRO (Ana­toli Michaelo)

For more than a decade, kosher con­sumers have watched chef Moshe Segev on tele­vi­sion, and for years they have been able to buy his prod­ucts in su­per­mar­kets. But they haven’t had the op­tion of eat­ing in any of his many restau­rants – un­til now.

Be­gin­ning Sun­day, the celebrity chef – and pri­vate cook for the prime min­is­ter – will open his first-ever kosher res­tau­rant – named, of course, Moshe Segev – in Beer­sheba.

“Over my ca­reer I’ve had thou­sands of re­quests from peo­ple to open a kosher res­tau­rant,” Segev told The Jerusalem Post in a re­cent in­ter­view. “And I’ve al­ways promised that one day I would do it.”

Segev said that in the past he has at­tempted to go the kosher route, but faced ob­sta­cles: whether it was lo­ca­tions in com­plexes that wanted him to open on Shab­bat, or very high rents that would make clos­ing on week­ends and hol­i­days dif­fi­cult. He said he is hope­ful that this lo­ca­tion will bring him enough cus­tomers dur­ing the week to make up for be­ing closed on Shab­bat.

“My ex­tended fam­ily keeps kosher and they ask me all the time – what about us, what about your fam­ily, we can’t eat your food,” he said. “The pub­lic today very much wants to keep kosher, and I want to bring that op­tion to all com­mu­ni­ties around the coun­try.”

While this eatery will be in Beer­sheba, he said he’s al­ready work­ing on his next kosher lo­ca­tion, which will open in Ne­tanya in a few months, and then hope­fully a third one in the north of Is­rael. The menu for the Beer­sheba eatery in­cludes steak, ham­burg­ers and ke­babs as well as an ar­ray of pasta and fish dishes.

Segev is go­ing against the trend for high-pro­file chefs in Is­rael by open­ing a kosher lo­ca­tion. The ma­jor­ity of the big­gest names in food cater strictly to non-kosher din­ers, with some even look­ing down on food made ac­cord­ing to Jewish law. One no­table ex­cep­tion is Meir Adoni, whose restau­rants Lu­mina and Blue Sky in the Tel Aviv Carl­ton Ho­tel have cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

But Segev said he isn’t in­ter­ested in com­pet­ing against other kosher restau­rants – he’s de­ter­mined to prove that his new­est lo­ca­tion is in the big leagues. “The com­pe­ti­tion is mostly against our­selves,” he said. “It’s not enough for us to be the best kosher res­tau­rant, I want this res­tau­rant to be at least as good as my not-kosher restau­rants.”

Reach­ing that level, he said, took months of tri­als and prac­tice to achieve per­fec­tion: “This might be the best menu we’ve done so far.” Dur­ing the prac­tice runs, Segev said, din­ers re­peat­edly sent the waiter to dou­ble check that the dessert they were eat­ing was re­ally dairy-free, since the res­tau­rant serves meat. “It was so great to hear,” he said, “and be able to an­swer: ‘yes it is.’”

While Segev’s many restau­rants over the years – in­clud­ing Segev Art, Segev Con­cept, Segev Ex­press and the new Segev Crunch Burger – have not been kosher, this isn’t his first time ad­her­ing to the di­etary re­stric­tions. For seven years, he was the head chef of El Al, which only serves kosher meals.

In ad­di­tion, he also cooks kosher for a very high-pro­file client: Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu. Over the years Segev has cooked din­ner in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Res­i­dence for a wide range of vis­it­ing world lead­ers, in­clud­ing US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ear­lier this year.

“I never saw the culi­nary chal­lenges as a prob­lem” in open­ing a kosher place, said Segev. “I knew I could pro­fes­sion­ally work with that.”

CHEF MOSHE SEGEV is open­ing his first kosher res­tau­rant in Beer­sheba on Sun­day.

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