Eyal Shani (HaSalon, North Abraxass, Miznon, Port Said, Teder, Beit Romano) dominates an empire of successful restaurants, including the Miznon chain, whose branches continue to spread worldwide (Paris, Melbourne, New York, Vienna). Since the beginning of his career at the Jerusalem Ocean restaurant, Shani has been stirring up the country with his provocative pictures on his Instagram account and unusual phrases on Master Chef. While many raise an eyebrow, fans continue to flock to his restaurants and marvel at his creative food and thought-provoking images.
Which Miznon dish took the cake this year?
The winning dishes are definitely the pâté and cauliflower, but this year the falafel burger shook the place, taking over 30% of the sales, so I decided to remove it from the menu to give the other dishes a chance.
Which raw material did you use most in ’17?
Tomatoes. They form the base of my pizza sauce at Romano, I make sashimi tomatoes at HaSalon, and I use 14 tons of tomatoes a month in Israel alone.
What has inspired you recently?
Three days ago I was on the beach in Malaga at sunrise - there is no sand there, rather sea pebbles. I heard the sound of the waves on the sea pebbles, rolling in and retreating as they smoothed out. I wish to express this experience in my food.
Can you remember one dish you’ve tried that stayed with you to this day?
I ate a wonderful meal at Haim Cohen’s Yaffo Tel-Aviv restaurant, and I remember especially the excellent mashed potatoes with blue crab meat cooked in butter. When I tasted the dish, I realized that the potatoes bore the taste of the crabs...the intuition of connecting these two raw materials is genius.
What have you discovered about the Israeli diner this year?
That they have no tomorrow and a forgotten future. This means that they are completely preoccupied with the ‘now’ and expect that the Heavens will descend upon and emanate from them. This level of tension and anticipation is Hell on the one hand, but on the other, it’s key because the chef becomes the savior - they provide happiness through food.
Who would you like to cook a joint meal with next year?
What are your plans for the upcoming season?
I am opening a restaurant in New York in three weeks, it’s an old dream of mine. I am also working on setting up a restaurant in Israel that will encourage youth at risk to channel their negative energies into creating food. I also have two books that I want to publish, hopefully in Paris and New York.
Do you have any intentions to open more restaurants abroad other than the world famous Miznon?
The dream of opening a restaurant abroad is a seed that has been planted in me from the beginning. But when you open a restaurant you become immersed in it all day, every day, and I’m not sure I can and want to be in one place at the moment. HaSalon allows me to cook twice a week and not be enslaved. Miznon allows me to reach many people and be on the move. I think this is my most important mission in the world.