FOOD FOR thought: French Michelin-star chef Lionel Levy..
(photo credit: AFIK GABAI)
Over the past two weeks, the Aubergine restaurant in the InterContinental David Tel Aviv hotel has played host to the enormously successful Kosher Taste of Michelin Festival. The idea is to bring over three Michelin-star chefs to take control of the restaurant for a few days and provide a five-course tasting menu in their own unique style. So far, chefs Eberhard Lange of Berlin and Lionel Levy of Marseilles have taken over the kitchen of the restaurant. This week it is Amsterdam chef Roger Rassin’s turn. Each of the tastings has already been sold out.
On Thursday night, I had the pleasure of experiencing the tasting menu of French chef Lionel Levy. Since settling down in Marseille in 1999, Levy contributed to raising the culinary standards of the city, leading to his winning a Michelin star in 2005.
Levy is known for his expertise in Mediterranean cuisine and enjoys creating each dish as a story inspired by the Mediterranean Sea. Levy is head chef of the Alcyone restaurant in the InterContinental Marseille hotel.
After enjoying some chilled glasses of Cava, my fiancee and I were led into Aubergine’s main dining room, which was filled to capacity. Levy’s five-course tasting menu included the unique Milkshake Bouillabaisse, which has become his signature dish back home. The first layer consisted of potato puree, garlic, saffron and egg yolk. Inside the second layer, there was scrambled egg, mascarpone and a large chunk of sea bass.
The top layer was the fish soup.
Other dishes on the menu included roasted Mediterranean sea bass accompanied by a mushroom and chestnut tart, as well as a lemon and espelette pepper tart. The essence of these dishes was very complex, and the flavors blended together beautifully.
During dinner, Levy took some time away from his busy kitchen to talk with us about his Tel Aviv trip. This was the chef’s first visit to Tel Aviv. He had previously been to Jerusalem to take part in the annual So French, So Good food festival.
Levy said it took him a few months to come up with a kosher tasting menu. However, he enjoyed the challenge of using local ingredients in a kosher kitchen to prepare the same dishes that would be deemed non-kosher in Marseille.
He also wanted the menu to be only fish based, as fish is his specialty and he was not interested in preparing chicken or meat dishes.
At the end of the evening, in his brief speech to the diners in attendance, Levy concluded by thanking Aubergine head chef Alon Hirtenstein and his staff for making him feel like part of the team.