Israeli cuisine is garnering attention around the world as chefs create their own versions of Israeli favorites like shakshuka, falafel, and hummus. But what is it about Israel’s food scene that has really made it a trendsetter? Maybe it’s the way Israelis always seem to be pushing the envelope. Meet three foodies who are changing the way Israel eats.
Celebrity Chef: Nir Zook
Innovation: Kebab Lollipops | Instagram: @chefnirzook
As the author of a flurry of cookbooks and a television star, Nir Zook is known for his repertoire of restaurants like Cordelia, his Jaffa favorite that starred for over 17 years. His willingness to take risks is also well known — recently, he opened Mapu, an über-successful kosher restaurant in a boutique hotel in Tel Aviv, a city where, surprisingly, upscale kosher food has been hard to come by until lately.
1 lb ground veal neck
1 lb ground beef
2 medium-size onions
¼ c parsley
5 cloves garlic
4 beef bones, cut lengthwise
Salt and pepper to taste
(1) Grate the onion, then drain out as much liquid as possible using a colander. Place in a mixing bowl. (2) Finely chop the parsley and garlic. Add it to the bowl with the onion. Add the ground veal and beef with salt and pepper to taste. Mix. (3) Once thoroughly blended, knead the mixture into round kebab shapes, using the beef bones as skewers. Place the finished kebab “lollipops” on a tray and refrigerate for 2 hours. (4) When ready to cook, either bake at 400° F for 8 minutes or throw on the grill. Serve with roasted vegetables.
Note: You can
ask your butcher
to grind the
meat as well as
cut the bones.
Celebrity Chef: Sharona Levinbaum
Innovation: Kariot Munch Balls | Instagram: @my_shar_ona
YouTube sensation Sharona Levinbaum’s food career happened by accident, when one video of her wacky junk food creations, where she put Oreo cookies and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups into a cake for her mom’s birthday, went viral. She ended up in her dream job: taking unexpected snacks and turning them into even more decadent, naughty, out-of-the-box versions.
Kariot Munch Balls
Makes about 18 balls
2 c Kariot cereal*
1 8-oz package cream cheese
10.5 oz or 1⅓ c white chocolate
chips or chunks
(1) Grind the cereal in the food processor, adding cream cheese until thoroughly combined. (2) Shape the cereal-cream cheese mix into small balls and place on a tray. Chill in the freezer for 10 minutes. (3) As the balls chill, melt the white chocolate in the microwave, blasting for a few seconds at a time to avoid burning the chocolate. (4) Once the chocolate is melted and the balls are chilled, dip the balls in the white chocolate, ensuring full coverage. (5) After covering all the balls with white chocolate, place a square of cereal on the top for an additional garnish and refrigerate. Keep stored in the refrigerator and try not to eat them all in one sitting.
*NOTE: You can order Kariot cereal online or use
Kellogg’s Krave cereal or another chocolate-filled cereal.
Celebrity Chef: Guy Gamzo
Innovation: Sesame Street Cocktail | Instagram: @guygamzo
Chef Guy Gamzo is the chef at Aria, one of Tel Aviv’s top restaurant–bars. He has won the hearts of local foodies through his dedication to making everything in-house, from the pasta to the sauces. Plus, his Instagram feed is one of the best in the city for finding those hidden local foodie gems — and he knows his way around every single nook and cranny of every market. Gamzo’s food is inspired by local ingredients, his travels, and his Egyptian and Moroccan background.
Sesame Street Cocktail
4 T citron vodka
4 T orange vodka
3 T limoncello*
4 T lemon juice
2 T honey syrup (mix a 1:3 ratio of honey and water)
1 T vanilla syrup
4 T raw tahini
Nigella seeds for decoration
(1) Chill a glass in the refrigerator. (2) Mix all ingredients in a shaker except for the tahini. Once the ingredients are thoroughly blended, add the tahini and mix with a cocktail spoon to distribute evenly. (3) Shake the mixture vigorously for 15 seconds before draining into chilled glass. Decorate with a sprinkle of nigella seeds.
You can use store-bought, but
Chef Guy recommends this recipe:
Soak the peels of two lemons and ½ a vanilla bean in 1 cup vodka for about a month. After a month, heat up 1 cup milk with 1 cup sugar until sugar is dissolved. (Be careful not to overheat the milk.) Mix the limoncello with the milk.