Celebrity Chef Eyal Shani Debuts First Kosher Restaurant in NYC Amidst War and Achieves Michelin Star
Edited by: TJVNews.com
Renowned Israeli chef Eyal Shani has arrived in New York City ahead of the grand opening of Malka, his 41st restaurant and the first certified kosher eatery outside of Israel. The opening comes amid challenging times, with Shani actively involved in providing meals to soldiers during the recent conflict in Israel, as was reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Despite the difficulties, Shani is eager to bring a unique kosher dining experience to New York, reflecting his commitment to inclusivity within his culinary creation, the report added.
Shani’s arrival in New York follows weeks of intense efforts in Israel, where he temporarily closed all 12 of his Tel Aviv restaurants to convert their kitchens into “food factories,” the JTA reported. These facilities produced 4,000 meals daily for soldiers on the front lines, engaging volunteers, including children who contributed artwork included in the soldier packages. The report at the JTA said that last week, Shani transitioned back to restaurant operations in Tel Aviv, recognizing the need for spaces where people could gather, converse, and find solace.
In the midst of these efforts, Shani received recognition for his culinary prowess as his restaurant Shmoné, located in Greenwich Village, was awarded a Michelin star. The JTA also reported that Shani, who was engaged in cooking for soldiers at the time of the announcement, expressed mixed emotions about the achievement, emphasizing that joy is tempered by the current situation in Israel.
Shani’s latest venture, Malka, set to open to the public on West 72nd Street on the Upper West Side, aims to redefine the kosher dining experience, as was noted in the JTA report. Shani, although not personally observing kosher dietary laws, recognized the desire among kosher consumers for his culinary creations. The report added that this realization led to the opening of Malka in Tel Aviv five years ago, making it the only kosher restaurant in Shani’s diverse portfolio.
Eyal Shani’s creative vision for Malka in New York includes developing a signature dish—an innovative Jewish-inflected ramen soup made with chicken. The JTA report indicated that despite not personally adhering to kosher dietary restrictions, Shani is driven by a sense of inclusivity and a desire to offer his culinary creations to a broad audience, stating, “How can I make food without letting half of my people eat it? That is the main reason I opened Malka.”
The menu at Malka will also include thinly-pounded schnitzel stuffed with mashed potatoes, beetroot carpaccio, and a Jerusalem mezze platter with falafel and hummus, the JTA report said. Shani envisions a seasonal menu that showcases the diverse flavors of Israeli cuisine, aiming to attract both Jewish and non-Jewish diners.
In a departure from traditional kosher establishments, Shani plans to introduce a plant-based emphasis at Malka. While meat and fish will be on the menu, more than half of the offerings are expected to be plant-based. Adeena Sussman, a cookbook author and expert in modern Israeli cuisine, notes that Shani’s approach differs from typical kosher fare, potentially influencing diners toward a more plant-centric eating experience, as was reported by the JTA.
Olive oil holds a central role in Shani’s culinary philosophy, with the chef expressing a strong commitment to its use, as was mentioned in the JTA report. He emphasized that if olive oil were to disappear, he would leave the culinary profession. This dedication to high-quality ingredients extends to the sourcing of premium olive oils from Spain, Italy, and Israel for Malka, adhering to kosher dietary restrictions, the JTA report added.
Malka aims to use premium-quality produce, with vegetables sourced from upstate New York or California. Shani emphasizes the importance of local tomatoes in his cuisine, stating that “real tomatoes cannot travel,” JTA reported. This commitment to freshness aligns with Shani’s culinary principles, ensuring that Malka offers a true taste of high-quality, local ingredients.
Despite the ongoing conflict in Israel causing some hesitancy among Jewish restaurant-goers, Shani emphasizes the importance of returning to normal life and bringing joy to people. As was indicated in the JTA report, Malka’s anticipated opening has garnered significant interest, with its menu receiving over 50,000 views in less than three weeks on Great Kosher Restaurants Media Group’s Facebook page.
Eyal Shani’s Malka in New York represents more than just a restaurant opening; it symbolizes resilience, creativity, and a commitment to providing a unique kosher dining experience. Shani’s dedication to quality ingredients, plant-based offerings, and local produce sets Malka apart in the kosher culinary landscape. As the restaurant prepares to open its doors, Shani’s vision of building a normal, peaceful life through the joy of dining out remains a guiding principle.