Restau­rants open to recipe in­no­va­tion

The Jewish Chronicle - - JC SPECIAL - BY NATHAN JEFFAY

IS­RAELI RESTAU­RA­TEURS are over the moon with the tim­ing of Passover this year and are fore­cast­ing boom time over the fes­ti­val. The first day of Passover — a yom­tov, when all kosher restau­rants must stay shut — falls on Shab­bat this year, mean­ing that the restau­rants have nearly a full week for trade dur­ing the fes­ti­val. They can open through­out the in­ter­me­di­ate days of Passover, from Sun­day to Thurs­day, while nor­mally chol hamoed is bro­ken up by hav­ing a Shab­bat in the middle. Ver­sa­tile chef Uri Arnon

“It will be good for the busi­ness,” says Uri Arnon, owner and chef of Arnold’s, a high-end restau­rant which has two branches in north­ern Is­rael.

But restau­ra­teurs are not the only win­ners in this sit­u­a­tion — Is­raelis and tourists will ben­e­fit from a wider-thannor­mal set of culi­nary choices.

Usu­ally, most restau­rants de­cide t hat t he hassl e of chang­ing their kitchens and uten­sils means it does not make eco­nomic sense to stay o p e n f o r

Passover.

Arnolds

and its chametz-free tor­tilla and steak But this year, the clear stretch of trad­ing time is en­cour­ag­ing more to keep their doors open. “Be­cause they have a full week to serve food, it’s worth it — there will be lots of kosherf o r - P a s s o v e r restau­rants this year,” says Char­lie Fa­dida, ex­ec­u­tive chef at the Olive Leaf restau­rant at the Tel Aviv Sher­a­ton Ho­tel, which will be kosher for Passover (kit­niot-free).

In the best restau­rants, chefs tend to try to keep their nor­mal menus as in­tact as pos­si­ble, in­stead of in­sti­tut­ing a dif­fer­ent Passover menu.

Some­times this is a rel­a­tively sim­ple process. Fa­dida’s seared salmon served on a warm glass­noo­dle salad with co­rian­der, sesame oil and ginger, for in­stance, will prob­a­bly come with potato cubes or roasted veg­eta­bles in­stead of the noo­dles — and noth­ing more will need to be done to it to make it Passover-per­mis­si­ble.

But there will al­ways be some Passover ca­su­al­ties. He will have to can­cel his much-ad­mired savoury crois­sant topped with cumin and sweet pa­prika, gen­er­ously filled with beef fil­let strips, mush­rooms and onions sautéed with red wine.

How­ever, the high­lights of the recipe will prob­a­bly be re­tained in a Passover-friendly beef-and-mushroom dish.

Arnon, whose es­tab­lish­ments will also be kosher for Passover (and kit­niot-free) thinks that some restau­rants fail to fully em­brace the Passover chal­lenge.

“In many restau­rants there’s no bread, only matzah and no desserts, only ice-cream,” he says.

“My phi­los­o­phy is: if the cus­tomer is com­ing and pay­ing good money, he should get a chef-stan­dard meal, like nor­mal.

“The big chal­lenge for me dur­ing Pe­sach is to serve the whole menu — we make tor­tillas from corn flour; we make ‘bread’ from potato flour and we work hard to get the palm oil for fry­ing and for mak­ing our desserts.”

The hard­est part, ac­cord­ing to Fa­dida, is sourc­ing all the right in­gre­di­ents — and the changeover to Passover mode in the kitchen is al­ways time-con­sum­ing.

But the chal­lenge of Passover can force him to ex­cel as a chef.

“You need to use your cre­ativ­ity,” he says, adding that the re­sults of the adap­ta­tions can some­times be sur­pris­ingly good.

“Fun­nily enough, the tor­tillas are bet­ter than nor­mal,” he re­veals, at­tribut­ing this to the corn flour, while he has been com­mended for his chametz-free choco­late souf­flés which, made with­out flour, are said to be lighter and fluffier than ever be­fore.

(above)

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