Chef Moshe Segev.
(photo credit: ANATOLY MICHAELO)
For more than a decade, kosher consumers have watched chef Moshe Segev on television, and for years they have been able to buy his products in supermarkets.
But they haven’t had the option of eating in any of his many restaurants – until now.
Beginning Sunday, the celebrity chef – and private cook for the prime minister – will open his first-ever kosher restaurant – named, of course, Moshe Segev – in Beersheba.
“Over my career I’ve had thousands of requests from people to open a kosher restaurant,” Segev told The Jerusalem Post
in a recent interview. “And I’ve always promised that one day I would do it.”
Segev said that in the past he has attempted to go the kosher route, but faced obstacles: whether it was locations in complexes that wanted him to open on Shabbat, or very high rents that would make closing on weekends and holidays difficult.
He said he is hopeful that this location will bring him enough customers during the week to make up for being closed on Shabbat.
“My extended family keeps kosher and they ask me all the time – what about us, what about your family, we can’t eat your food,” he said. “The public today very much wants to keep kosher, and I want to bring that option to all communities around the country.”
While this eatery will be in Beersheba, he said he’s already working on his next kosher location, which will open in Netanya in a few months, and then hopefully a third one in the north of Israel. The menu for the Beersheba eatery includes steak, hamburgers and kebabs as well as an array of pasta and fish dishes.
Segev is going against the trend for high-profile chefs in Israel by opening a kosher location. The majority of the biggest names in food cater strictly to non-kosher diners, with some even looking down on food made according to Jewish law. One notable exception is Meir Adoni, whose restaurants Lumina and Blue Sky in the Tel Aviv Carlton Hotel have certification.
But Segev said he isn’t interested in competing against other kosher restaurants – he’s determined to prove that his newest location is in the big leagues.
“The competition is mostly against ourselves,” he said.
“It’s not enough for us to be the best kosher restaurant, I want this restaurant to be at least as good as my not-kosher restaurants.”
Reaching that level, he said, took months of trials and practice to achieve perfection: “This might be the best menu we’ve done so far.” During the practice runs, Segev said, diners repeatedly sent the waiter to double check that the dessert they were eating was really dairy-free, since the restaurant serves meat. “It was so great to hear,” he said, “and be able to answer: ‘yes it is.’” While Segev’s many restaurants over the years – including Segev Art, Segev Concept, Segev Express and the new Segev Crunch Burger – have not been kosher, this isn’t his first time adhering to the dietary restrictions. For seven years, he was the head chef of El Al, which only serves kosher meals.
In addition, he also cooks kosher for a very high-profile client: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Over the years Segev has cooked dinner in the Prime Minister’s Residence for a wide range of visiting world leaders, including US President Donald Trump earlier this year.
“I never saw the culinary challenges as a problem” in opening a kosher place, said Segev. “I knew I could professionally work with that.”