Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hats off to the Chef!

Chef Yitschak

Recently, weird and wonderful things have been happening in the Mayanot kitchen – an array of magical aromas waft through the hallowed halls of the Yeshiva to a chorus of rumbling tummies. Mealtimes have become a highlight of the day. What or who has caused this food revolution at Mayanot - our new chef, Yitschak Rosenzweig.

Yitschak hails from Brazil, just outside of Sao Paulo, a city which UNESCO  has chosen as one of the best places in the world for gastronomy,  ‘that means I taste everything’, Yitschak jovially explained. Yitschak has been at Mayanot for a month but he has a long history of working with food, developing his craft in various kitchens across Sao Paulo. However, after making aliyah nine years ago, Yitschak decided to become a teacher. Soon, the pull of the kitchen was too strong to resist, and six years ago, Yitschak returned to the trade he loves so much.  Hearing him talk about being in the kitchen, it is hard to believe Yitschak could have worked as anything else.

‘My philosophy with food is firstly to make the best Kosher food, to show that you can have a high-quality Kosher meal’, Yitschak stated.  Yitschak believes strongly in the phrase that ‘you are what you eat’; ‘food needs to be not only tasty but healthy and nutritional too. Physical and spiritual nutrition needs to be combined, which is where high-end Kosher food comes in. But above all, food needs to be tasty – because tasty food makes people happier.’

When listening to Yitschak talk about food and cooking, it is hard not to feel the same excitement and passion that he projects.  He has made changes to the Mayanot kitchen which reflect his theory about good cooking – using high-quality technology in the kitchen coupled with cost-effective produce to create healthy, delicious meals.  When asked about his processes in the kitchen, Yitschak exclaimed ‘I DON’T DEEP FRY’, which is to him the cardinal sin of good cooking. Instead, Yitschak likes to combine different tastes and techniques – more commonly known as ‘fusion cooking’.  ‘I don’t just use Japanese techniques for Japanese food. For example, if I am making a fish paella, I cook it in a wok. Woks cook at a higher temperature and this creates a nice caramelisation of the fish whilst ensuring that it doesn’t dry out.’ Yitschak also experiments by using salmon in his gefilte fish recipe and vacuum-cooking the meat for his cholent, which, to this writer, sounds delicious!

‘Food needs to be good for your soul, and you need to think about your soul, not just the taste of your food. There are ways to copy the flavors of non-Kosher food in a Kosher way, but I don’t believe in using fake or manufactured flavors. Besides, a good stroganoff can be made using coconut milk and it tastes even better than the regular one!’

Judging by the smells coming from the kitchen, and the happy smiles on the faces of the students, his fusion technique of cooking, whilst staying true to the laws of Kashrut, are going down a treat.

 

Yitschak also has a company which supplies kitchen accessories to restaurants, helping them to design kitchens in a way which is organic to their menus and to design their menus to suit their customers. He can be reached on yrchef@gmail.com