Chef Zev’s approach is to combine the traditional French techniques he learned at the CIA with a “fusion” approach to ingredients and seasonings, bringing in the best of what he’s sampled on his travels, all adapted to the requirements of being kosher.
Jerusalem’s famous “shuk” — the Mahane Yehuda market — is the source for Chef Zev’s seasonings and many of his other ingredients. Mahane Yehuda is a classic Middle Eastern open market, with food brought in fresh daily, direct from the farm or fishing boat. It’s a crowded, noisy, fascinating place where the vendors compete over who has the freshest and best ingredients for food.
Chef Zev knows the spice people in the shuk, and he gets his spices freshly ground. Many of the seasonings available reflect the Sephardi (southern Europe and Middle Eastern) backgrounds of the merchants, including everything from star anise and fresh ground cinnamon to ginger, turmeric, cumin, and fresh kusbara (coriander/cilantro leaves). The freshly ground spices provide extraordinary flavor — much more pungent and flavorful than the usual store-bought seasonings.
Israel is famous for having very high-quality produce. It’s a small country, so nothing has to travel large distances. It’s almost all “local.” Chef Zev adapts his menus seasonally based on what’s available in the market. And of course he uses local olive oil, the healthiest and tastiest of oils.
Israeli lamb and chicken tends to be higher quality than Israeli beef, so those dishes feature prominently in his cooking. Local fish includes Denise (Sea Bream), Muscht (Tilapia), and Levrak (Sea Bass) prepared in a variety of ways. Although it’s not local, salmon is also a popular choice.
Vegetarians don’t have to feel left out – Chef Zev’s “Vegetarian Tower” combines different grains with Portobello Mushroom and a roasted vegetable medley with a sauce made from green chilies and lemon grass.