A Michelin experience: Israeli chef trio raise kosher dining to an art form

A trio of Israeli chefs wanted to provide a Michelin experience to kosher consumers.

By Joseph Wolkin, World Israel News

A 10-course meal in the heart of Crown Heights, Brooklyn? No, this isn’t a Shabbat dinner. This is a mid-week feast and yes, it is indeed kosher.

Chef Elior Balbul, who is the executive chef of Alenbi Kitchen, located at 887 Nostrand Ave., had a vision to provide a specially-crafted, high-quality meal unlike any other.

“I wanted to celebrate Alenbi’s two-year birthday,” Balbul said. “I wanted to do something special that’s never been done.”

It was time to bring kosher food to a whole new level.

Balbul teamed with Chef Liron Egozi, a sous chef at The Musket Room, as well as Sheli Bar-Niv, chef de partie at restaurant Eleven Madison Park.

Together, they formed a trio of Israeli chefs who wanted to provide a Michelin experience to kosher consumers. On Sept. 23 and 24, they made their dream a reality.

“I’m very passionate about the dinner we planned, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to elevate Israeli cuisine to fine dining,” Egozi said. “Working with Chef Elior and Chef Sheli is a unique and inspiring experience, and I’m eager to continue learning from their creativity and skill.”

As part of this impressive undertaking, the chefs paired each dish with wine from the famed Herzog Wine Cellars, poured by Sabbath-observing sommeliers.

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The experience was meant to show that items, such as the white fish scallops, could appear as if they’re from a non-kosher kitchen, but they are strictly kosher, according to OK Kosher Certification’s standards.

Some of the dishes from the event, entitled “A Kosher Michelin Experience,” included “Scallop Intro,” consisting of black bulgur risotto, seared “scallop,” beurre blanc foam with confit leek and fish skin twill.

Scallop Intro

Scallop Intro (Nitzan Keynan)

It also included “Sweetbreads Marrakech,” which is a mixture of cauliflower couscous, braised veal sweetbreads. black and white garlic crema with arugula black truffle cream and braised prunes, and “Tomato Textures,” a combination of cashew and mint yogurt, organic heirloom tomato with bloody Mary caviar, puffed buckwheat, green tomato consomme and lemon thyme.

You would never think any of this is kosher.

Sweetbreads Marrakec

Sweetbreads Marrakec (Nitzan Keynan)

“I wanted to make people interested in Michelin and the meaning behind Michelin food and chefs,” Balbul said. “Before I opened Alenbi, my purpose was that if I’m going to a kosher market, I need to do something that defines me differently than other restaurants and chefs.

“My goal, in the end, is to always bring something new to the kosher market and develop the food that’s going to be equal to non-kosher.”

Tomato Textures

Tomato Textures (Nitzan Keynan)

To have three Israeli chefs, each of whom work for high-end restaurants, join together to plan this special two-day event meant a lot to the region.

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A major part of Balbul’s thought process was to give two of his female Israeli peers an opportunity to showcase their skills in a larger market.

“I was really excited about the dinner we cooked and planned together,” Bar-Niv said. “Getting to work with chef Elior and chef Liron is such a great experience, learning from each other and collaborating, bringing our different backgrounds and skills together is really inspiring.”