Singapore’s culinary scene will be amped up a notch this November with the arrival of award-winning chef Yossi Elad. Chef Yossi was raised on an agricultural settlement in Israeli and developed a passion for the local ingredients and cuisine at an early age. He has since gone on to become one of the leaders of the modern Israeli food movement with highly acclaimed restaurants that include Machneyuda in Jerusalem and The Palomar in London. From November 2nd to November 7th, he’ll be whipping up his Jerusalem market style eats in the contemporary environs of Wild Honey . We had a chat with him to find out more about his journey, tastes, and cuisine.
Urban Journey: What inspired you to be a chef?
Yossi Elad: There was a moment when I was six years old and I was helping my Father to prepare Shabbat meal. I remember looking at him and telling him, “When I grow up, I want to cook like you.”
UJ: What are the top 5 ingredients you can’t live without?
YE: Salt, tahini, lemon, olive oil, and green herbs.
UJ: Can you share two simple recipes with our readers?
YE: In Israel we eat a lot of fresh vegetables and our Israeli salad is very known all over the world. To make an Israeli salad, cut some cucumbers and tomatoes into small cubes, then chop some parsley and coriander. Some people also add chopped onions. Mix together and season with salt, pepper, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and olive oil.
Then of course there is tahini. To make tahini, combine 1 cup of tahini paste 1 cup of water, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, and salt. Mix together until you have a smooth salsa. For me, a combination of Israeli salad, tahini and a hard-boiled egg is the perfect meal!
UJ: What’s your favorite go-to meal when you’re not cooking?
YE: That would have to be seafood, and preferably Asian style seafood like Chinese, Japanese, or Vietnamese.
UJ: What was the most memorable meal you ever had?
YE: I was invited by the great chef Joël Robuchon for lunch at his restaurant in London. I can’t remember the food, but I remember sitting with him and discussing food. That was one of the memorable moments I’ve ever had in a restaurant.
UJ: What are your favorite foodie haunts in London?
YE: Well of course The Palomar and her sister restaurants. After that it would have to be Barrafina tapas bar, Roka, The Typing Room, The Clove Club, and The Blue Posts bar.
UJ: Can you suggest some must-try spots in Jerusalem?
YE: Machneyuda restaurant of course. For local food, try the Mahane Yehuda market. Ishtabach is a good place to start there. There is also a small place in the market called Argento that serves excellent Argentinian empanadas. Other must-visit spots include the Israel Museum for culture and The Austrian Hospice.
UJ: Can you share a little about your restaurants in Jerusalem, London, and Paris?
YE: When we opened Machneyuda we wanted to do simply great food, but I knew we needed to bring in something new and fresh. The ambience we managed to add to the good food made us stand out, and a lot of restaurants tried to copy us. That’s what makes each of our restaurants different and special. We offer much more than just good food.
UJ: What can diners expect at ‘A Taste of Jerusalem’?
YE: Hopefully to learn a bit more about our culture and the chance to try some of the best food I do.
UJ: If you had to choose one dish to introduce people to Israeli cuisine, what would it be?
I think it is impossible to introduce Israeli food in one dish, just like it’s not possible to introduce people to Chinese or Asian cuisine in one dish. For this event I’ve built a menu that I hope will give people a sampler taste of Israel and its culture through various dishes.