Colony's Rising Chefs dinner series toasts Israel's top young talent
Landmark Jerusalem restaurant Colony is celebrating its sixth birthday this year, and as a centerpiece of the festivities, Colony has been hosting an innovative monthly dinner series appropriately titled Rising Chef. The initiative, conceived and overseen by Head Chef Michael Katz, features six talented but not-yet-famous sous-chefs who are preparing six meals over the course of six months.
The Rising Chef series is a natural match for Colony's philosophy, known in Jerusalem for its support of up-and-coming creatives in many media. The restaurant's walls are regularly decorated with the art of local and international artists, with exhibits changing periodically.
The Rising Chef series itself, meanwhile, has been wowing palettes since late 2011. The former kitchen head at Cavalier, Uriel Kimchi kicked off the series in November with a meal fusing local, seasonal raw materials with French techniques. Yom Tov Levi, sous-chef at Tel Aviv hotspot Messa, took the terrace in December with a meal of contemporary creations. The meals are set family-style, with seating at
12-meter-long tables on Colony's terrace. At each evening, many courses of food are served, accompanied by hand-picked matching wines from Ramat Hagolan.
Ramzi Abu Alahua, a sous-chef at Colony whose family has lived in the Jerusalem area for many generations, dropped out of school and first began cooking at the age of 12 in the restaurant where his uncle, who trained in France, was the chef. Abu Alahua's February 13th offering for Rising Chef is a traditional Arab meal. He says that Katz's Rising Chef concept was inspired by the apprenticeship relationships that the master had formed over the years, with sous-chefs all too often being under-celebrated.
"The idea began with Colony's head chef, Michael Katz, who saw he had a lot of talented sous-chefs," Abu Alahua tells GoJerusalem.com. "I personally began making food in the chef's name in all of the places I worked, including Colony. At Colony, Chef Katz and I decided that we needed to take this one step further, so we came up with the idea for Rising Chefs."
For Abu Alahua, the series is more than just a means to introduce himself to the dining public. "I want to introduce people to Arab food, which is slightly different than Israeli food, in terms of spices, in terms of the recipes themselves." Abu Alahua is one of two Arab-Israeli chefs in the series. The
other is Ahmad Ukla who is serving a Bedouin-influenced meal on March
12th. "Jerusalem restaurants - which are constantly improving their
level of professionalism - have a lot of Arab workers," says Abu Alahua. "But to really succeed, you need a lot of background and experience."
The food styles represented in the series are eclectic indeed, with Rising Chefs coming to an exciting conclusion on April 30th's Queen's Day banquet, featuring Moran Rotman's Dutch creations. "I don't know enough about the other chefs to know which ones I want to try," says Abu Alahua. January's installment, featuring Ariella Brofman, sous-chef at the Barti restaurant in Tel Aviv, emphasizes presentation, which is especially compelling to Abu Alahua. "Chef Ariella and Yom Tov have a more gourmet style which I really like," he says.
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