Healthy gourmet cooks just for you

The Jewish Chronicle - - JC SPECIAL - BY OS­CAR MARVIN

HE IS a vet­eran of the Iron­man chall e nge, a t r i a t hlete… and a dab hand at Passover bak­ing. Nir Joels, per­sonal trainer for some of the world’s hard­est phys­i­cal chal­lenges, is part of a grow­ing move­ment in Is­rael to pro­vide qual­ity and healthy cook­ing in peo­ple’s own kitchens, or the kitchens of their hol­i­day homes. The “home restau­rant” ex­pe­ri­ence of hav­ing a per­sonal chef cook up a treat is grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity in Is­rael — and it is no co­in­ci­dence that health-con­scious food­ies like Joels are far­ing well in the busi­ness.

“I choose my way of life as healthy and want the food I make to fol­low this and also be healthy,” he says.

In fact, it was health con­cerns, not Jewish law, that led to his Passover bak­ing tal­ents. He started mak­ing his choco­late cakes us­ing Passover-ac­cept­able co­conut flour in­stead of chametz wheat be­cause the for­mer cuts down on the gluten and boosts the fi­bre.

The home-restau­rant ex­pe­ri­ence strongly ap­peals to peo­ple who like to see the raw in­gre­di­ents of their meal, to know that they are eat­ing qual­ity pro­duce and who want healthy and in­no­va­tive recipes.

“It pro­vides the feel­ing that ev­ery­thing is cooked fresh, in front of your eyes and peo­ple love this,” says Joels, who of­fers his ser­vices across Is­rael.

Elkana Bi­ton, 34, who fin­ished se­cond place in the first Is­raeli ver­sion of tele­vi­sion’s con­test, likes his wife to treat him to a per­sonal chef when he is cel­e­brat­ing a birth­day. “It’s bet­ter than a restau­rant — there you have to wait and you don’t re­ally know what to ex­pect but a good Nir Joels’ flour­less straw­berry cheese­cake with a flour­ish per­sonal chef will re­ally get it right,” he says.

Mr Bi­ton of­fered per­sonal-chef ser­vices him­self for sev­eral years — try­ing to jug­gle the work with his main job as a fire­man — and says that the work and love that goes into the cook­ing makes it worth pay­ing for. “A good chef will do his home­work about what you want and re­ally get it right,” he says.

Nor­mally the chef will dis­cuss menus with the client, and then take care of the shop­ping, sourc­ing in­gre­di­ents that he or she feels will re­sult in the best re­sult. The chef will then ar­rive on the day of the meal, and make all dishes — work­ing with serv­ing and clean­ing staff if re­quested. Most Is­raeli chefs are fa­mil­iar, al­beit to vary­ing de­grees, with the religious rules of Passover, of sep­a­ra­tion of meat and milk and laws gov­ern­ing the heat­ing of food on Sab­baths and fes­ti­vals.

Joels says that his in-house cook­ing ser­vice is about more than giv­ing the householder a night off from the kitchen; it’s also about see­ing food pro­duced and en­joy­ing new tastes. “I’m not a snob-chef who just likes to show how well I cook — it’s a very down-to-earth ex­pe­ri­ence,” he says.

Nir Joels’ choco­late­cov­ered dates and wal­nut spheres

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