Meet Keren and Itzik Kadosh: Jerusalem's culinary power couple

The couple own one of Jerusalem's most famous bakeries, Cafe Kadosh, Now, they have a new project, a TV series on Channel 13 called Kondi-Tour.

 THE LOGO for Condi-Tour, Keren and Itzik Kadosh’s new show on Channel 13. (photo credit: Shiran Cohen-Shay)
THE LOGO for Condi-Tour, Keren and Itzik Kadosh’s new show on Channel 13.
(photo credit: Shiran Cohen-Shay)

In just a few weeks, it will begin. Long lines on Shlomzion Hamalka Street with customers waiting up to an hour for a chance to buy one (or two or three) of Cafe Kadosh’s famous doughnuts. There are always new flavors, and even during the course of a day, the flavors can change. Last year, there was the Dubai – a doughnut with date filling and gold leaf to celebrate the Abraham Accords.

Keren Kadosh, the restaurant’s longtime pastry chef, shares the work of the patisserie and restaurant with her husband, Itzik. Now the pair have a new project – a TV series on Channel 13 called Kondi-Tour (a play on the word conditor, Hebrew for “pastry chef”) in which they eat their way through cities in Israel, ending with a recipe they make that is inspired by the place they are visiting. (Warning: Don’t watch the show, available on the Channel 13 website, if you’re hungry or trying to diet!)

“The reactions have been amazing,” Keren told In Jerusalem. “Businesses say that so many people are coming to visit and say they want to eat where Keren and Itzik ate.”

“The reactions have been amazing. Businesses say that so many people are coming to visit and say they want to eat where Keren and Itzik ate.”

Keren Kadosh

She said the media tends to concentrate on the culinary landscape in Tel Aviv, but there is a whole world outside Tel Aviv, and the show aims to demonstrate that. The focus is on desserts, which is what Keren and Itzik specialize in. 

 CANNOLIS FROM the French bakery in Netivot near the border with Gaza.  (credit: Shiran Cohen-Shay) CANNOLIS FROM the French bakery in Netivot near the border with Gaza. (credit: Shiran Cohen-Shay)

What delicious treats are on the new TV show?

In the first episode, they tour Acre, eating sweets in an Arab shop that goes back to 1915 as Itzik chats in fluent Arabic with the chef. They then go into a spice shop and ask for the best za’atar they have. The Jewish owner offers them a “chaser” of za’atar, shaking a little into their palms and urging them to pop it into their mouths.

They then visit the Turkiz pastry shop run by an Arab husband and wife team who work together. The desserts they eat look amazing, especially a circular knafe that Itzik especially enjoys. There is also Um Ali (“Ali’s mother”), a type of Egyptian bread pudding.

The four of them then prepare manakeesh – pita with za’atar – which Keren describes as the Arab pizza. As they cook, Keren explains how to work with dough properly and demonstrates three types of manakeesh.

Another episode takes place in Netivot, near Israel’s border with Gaza, a town known more for living under the threat of Hamas rocket attacks than for its culinary scene. At the oldest bakery in the city, called the Netivot Bakery, they munch on fresh pita as Itzik starts braiding a complicated eight-strand challah. Next up are fish patties in frena bread in the Netivot shuk.

“This is one of the most amazing sandwiches I’ve ever eaten,” Itzik says on the show. “The fish patties and fish eggs are spicy, with warm soft bread… it doesn’t get any better than this.”

KEREN SAID she hopes the series will bring Israeli tourists to visit these areas. “A year ago, it was a difficult security period, and there were a lot of rocket attacks,” she noted. “We decided we wanted to help the businesses in the city. We did a similar program then, and many of the businesses said it really helped them.”

After the program on Netivot aired recently, she said, her social media was flooded with hundreds of messages asking for the addresses of the places where they ate.

During the program, they use a new digital app that was created just for the series, with licensed tour guides offering a culinary and cultural walking tour. Keren and Itzik follow the route with a tour guide as well. Each walking tour can be customized, depending on what you want to eat. All the money for the tour goes directly to the guides, Keren said.

She said she was also surprised at some of the culinary spots they found. For example, there are two high-quality French bakeries in Netivot, as well as a pizzeria that can compete with pizza in Naples.

An upcoming program will focus on food in east Jerusalem, an area that even most Jerusalemites don’t visit. Keren and Itzik have lived in Jerusalem for many years and are raising their four sons in the city as well.

“Food connects people; it’s a simple fact,” she said. “Food can connect Jews and Arabs, Ashkenazim and Sephardim. You put a big pot on the table, and everyone will come and eat.”

Itzik recalled that when he was growing up in Jerusalem, he lived in a building with Jews from around the world – Morocco, Iran, Germany, Spain and Kurdistan – and was often invited to eat at his neighbors’.

“I tasted dishes from all of my friends’ houses, and it gave me a palate of flavor,” he said. “Israelis are also very creative and have a certain chutzpa they add to the dishes.”

In the past 10 years, the Israeli food scene has exploded, he noted. There are now Israeli chefs cooking Israeli cuisine all over the world, including in Berlin where Israeli chef Gal Ben-Moshe recently became the third Israeli to win a coveted Michelin star for his restaurant Prism.

“There is definitely an Israeli cuisine,” Itzik said. “It is Levantine food that combines Arab dishes with seasonal ingredients and gives it an Israeli stamp.”

The rise in Israel’s culinary reputation is also because the Mediterranean diet – based on fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil and fish – is having a moment around the world. Culinary tourism around the globe has also been propelled forward by social media with endless photos on Instagram.

Itzik said that food can bring many more international tourists to Israel. Israelis also enjoy traveling within Israel, and he hopes the television program will encourage Israelis to visit far-flung locations in the country and expand their culinary horizons.

CAFE KADOSH opened in 1967 and has been turning out some of Israel’s best pastries since then. 

Itzik said that he and Keren are “two alpha people” and that they decided early on that they must have separate responsibilities. So he is in charge of the breads – including sourdough, croissants, babka and cronuts – while Keren, a trained pastry chef, handles the pastry.

“If we didn’t divide the jobs, we would quickly be at the rabbinate [to initiate divorce proceedings],” he joked. ❖