is my father Meir’s legacy,” says Isack Kadosh, owner of the legendary
Jerusalem cafe. Everything was set in motion when Meir realized he had a
passion for baking at the age of 13whilst working at a bakery called
Marcus near Mahane Yehuda Market. Marcus specialized in
Austro-Hungarian-style pastries and still today Café Kadosh’s delectable
pastries are heavily influenced by the European region’s style of
In 1967, Meir realized a dream and opened up his own
business in its current location in the center of town, with a bakery
upstairs and a small space downstairs selling just confectionery and
“I visited the bakery regularly as a young child,”
says Isack. “I loved soaking up the atmosphere, watching my father and
even helping out with whatever I could manage – even if it was just
cleaning a baking tray.”As Isack grew up,he voluntarily went to help out
during each vacation, and worked in the bakery as a waiter, bartender
Then, in the middle of his philosophy and Spanish
studies at Hebrew University, Meir fell ill. Since Isack’s siblings are
more high-tech oriented, it was clear that Isack would be the one to
take over the business, and he quickly went about learning the bakery
methodology and recipes from his father.
“When he [Meir] passed
away, he took a lot of knowledge with him and I had no one to guide me,”
recalls Isack. While keeping the business afloat, Isack went off to
learn as much as possible from experts in Vienna and Budapest.
traveled all over Europe – France, Italy, Germany and Italy– and gained
invaluable experience in my quest to be the best pastry chef in
Jerusalem and Israel,” he explains.
In 1999, Isack went about
renovating the business and expanded the premises as well as the menu to
include salads, sandwiches, fresh pasta dishes, quiches and other café
fare. Nervous that the increased size would alienate customers who had
been coming religiously for decades, Isack worked hard at retaining the
cosy family feel. The Cafe is now designed in a classic European style
that makes for a decidedly traditional atmosphere.
In 2002, Isack
married Keren, who at the time was working as an administrative manager
in a psychometric school. After having a child, Keren struggled to find
work in her field, and the couple made the decision to work together on
the business. “I taught Keren the basics,” says Isack, “but she was a
natural and taught herself a lot.” Keren then completed several courses
locally and abroad at top culinary schools including Estella.
Nowadays Keren is responsible for the kitchen and Isack the bakery.
try to keep our responsibilities as separate as possible though we do
interfere in each other’s work from time to time,” says Isack. “What is
great is that we’re both on the same page when it comes to keeping Café
Kadosh a top café and bakery in Jerusalem.”
Café Kadosh uses the
best fresh ingredients and everything is made in-house, from the pasta
to the bread to the pastries. The Café doesn’t serve parve confectionery
and the food is made using butter and full cream.
“Taste is paramount. If you feel like a piece of cake, enjoy it,” exclaims Isack.
“One employee who was allergic to dairy even made sure to take medication in order to not miss out on our food,” he adds.
Kadosh does however cater to health-conscious clientele and the menu
includes salads, some low fat cheeses, fine olive oils, vegetables and
“I enjoy everything about my job – connecting with people, baking and being behind the bar,” says Isack.
general I am at work 12-14 hours, sometimes up to 18 hours a day, but I
feel lucky that it does not feel like working to me.” Isack unwinds in
the gym or in a kickboxing session.
“One of our biggest
challenges is finding and training new employees to be as good as us,
and we put a lot of time and effort into it,” the proud owner insists.
“Fortunately we don’t have a high staff turnover. Our employees are like family, and some have even watched me grow up.”
stresses the importance of not mixing business with pleasure. “Keren
and I make sure not to talk about business at home. Working together is
tricky at times but we are both so committed to making the business
work, and for now are successfully navigating the work-home balance.”
recounts that another challenge is the lack of holiday time and how
Keren and him make sure to take their kids on a holiday overseas when
the business is closed over Passover. The family loves visiting South
America and Europe, particularly Spain, where Isack’s family is
“I am a tenth generation Jerusalemite, and
would never think of leaving,” the self-confessed Jerusalem fan
proclaims.“It upsets me that so many great people leave Jerusalem to go
to Tel Aviv but I want to be involved in creating a Jerusalem that is
for everybody. I like everything about Jerusalem – the mild climate, the
energy of the city, the architecture,” says Isack.
“I am proud
that Café Kadosh is an institute in Jerusalem and that we have such a
mix of people at our tables – judges, lawyers, and common people.”
would I be or do in another lifetime? A National Geographic
photographer,” Isack explains.“I studied photography and spent three
years in South America after the army taking hundreds of photos, a few
of which are now displayed on the Café’s walls.”
“Our plan for the future is to open another bakery/café; similar to something we saw in Eastern Europe,” says Isack.
“We want to continue to be the best.”
Address: 6 Shlomzion Hamalka Street, Jerusalem
Phone: (02) 625-4210
Kosher Rabbinate (Dairy)
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