‘Something like Italian’

A Jaffa-born chef has found his niche.

Elias Soury 521 (photo credit: Barry A. Kaplan)
Elias Soury 521
(photo credit: Barry A. Kaplan)
Eyal Hamo, the owner of the Alice restaurant, recalls that the owner of a restaurant that was closing called to ask him if he was interested in hiring his chef. “After meeting him for two minutes, the chef and I knew we could work together, and that was it. I saw that he could develop my place and raise it to a higher level. He had a brilliant idea for a new menu.”
The chef was Elias Soury, a pleasant, soft-spoken man who glows with pride at being the first chef of this restaurant.
How it started Jerusalem-born Eyal Hamo, 28, has always worked in the restaurant business – as a waiter, bartender, in the kitchen. Two years ago he decided, “It’s my time,” and he bought the café/restaurant Gulindo. After a year, he renamed it Alice, for his grandmother, and hired chef Elias Soury, who came to him with good experience and good credentials.
The chef’s experience Soury, a Catholic, was born in Jaffa. “When I was about 10 years old, I liked to help my mom when she was cooking. I asked her a lot of questions, and I would help her when she made lunch or dinner,” he says.
When Soury was 16, he started making food, such as pasta and grilled fish, for friends.
After high school he studied at the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center for two years to become a chef. It is the only hospitality school in east Jerusalem offering courses in English.
Classes are held at the Notre Dame Guest House, a four-star hotel. Students work in the four restaurants of the guest house under the hotel chefs.
After graduating, Soury worked at the first Internet café in Ramallah for five years. He also took a course with a French chef at the Grand Park Hotel in Ramallah, learning French cooking. After working for a Tel Aviv catering hall, he came to Jerusalem, where he worked as a chef at a downtown restaurant.
During that time he went to Italy for a one-month course in Italian cooking. A year ago, he became the chef at Alice.
The décor Alice has a simple décor. It has seating for 35 at wooden tables or at the bar, as well as outdoor seating in the walkway on the side. The cream-colored walls display artwork by Jerusalem art students, which is changed once a month. Unpretentious chandeliers offer soft lighting.
The cuisine Soury calls Alice’s cuisine “something like Italian.”
But in addition, breakfast is served all day with seven choices, as well as six salads; four specials plus an extra special of the week and desserts. There is also a tea ceremony menu with a large selection of black, green and herbal teas.
Most popular dish on the menu Hamo says the most popular dish on the menu is the Israeli breakfast (NIS 48). It includes juice, a hot beverage, an omelette, chopped salad, tuna salad, tehina, cream cheese, tapenade, sun-dried tomato paste and Soury’s special baked bread with butter and jam.
The chef’s favorite item on the menu Salads.
What the chef likes best about his work Soury says, “I work with very nice people, and I’m the first chef of this restaurant.”
Biggest accomplishment “I feel that I am building this restaurant and doing something new that nobody has done before me,” says Soury.
Best part of the job “It’s a kind of art – and I’m making good money!” Who cooks at home? “My wife, who is a teacher,” says Soury. “But I cook something special that is hard for her to cook, once a week every weekend.”
Soury and his wife have three children, aged 14, 10 and five.
Alice is located at Rehov Shamai 17, Tel: 077-517 0091. It is open Sunday through Wednesday, 8 a.m. to midnight; Thursday, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m; Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m; Saturday evening 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Alice is very popular in the evenings, and there are musical performances every Tuesday evening. Kosher, Jerusalem Rabbinute.