Back to school: Danon Culinary Academy's training makes the grade

The tender meat on the baby back ribs in the sweet and zesty BBQ sauce was finger-licking good, paired perfectly with succulent white corn grits and glazed apple.

Crispy hen on pancake. (photo credit: PR)
Crispy hen on pancake.
(photo credit: PR)
As Tel Aviv’s reputation for culinary excellence continues to grow, and more and more chefs achieve celebrity status, the number of quality cooking schools increases as well. One of them, Danon Culinary Academy, has developed a platform for chefs-tobe to gain hands-on experience: Schoolyard, a monthly pop-up restaurant.
Schoolyard operates two evenings a week, serving four dinners. The title given to the current series is taken from the restaurant’s modus operandi: By the Book – meaning, recipes are followed from respected cookbooks. During the service, the trainee chefs can be observed working in the open kitchen; other student chefs acts as waiters.
According to Danon faculty, Schoolyard is not for profit. Fivecourse meals are priced at NIS 180 to NIS 260, depending on whether wine pairing is part of the menu.
Otherwise, there is an extra charge for alcoholic beverages.
Last month, in honor of the Fourth of July, Schoolyard celebrated American cuisine. In particular, the theme was “soul food,” from the South.
Guests were seated at long tables and greeted with a complimentary cocktail. The drink for the Independence Day meal was a Black Russian – refreshing enough, but hardly in keeping with the motif for the evening. One would have thought a mint julep much more appropriate.
The first course was lobster slaw, served with crostini and wafer-thin slices of kohlrabi, pliable enough to be used like tortilla wraps. The sweet white lobster meat, standing in for crayfish, was moistened with just the right touch of mayonnaise and, thankfully, was not overwhelmed by the condiment or the seasoning.
Next was a dish called “crispy hen with pancake and maple syrup” – Schoolyard’s interpretation of chicken and waffles. The white meat chicken was moist and flavorful under the crunchy coating, while the dish as a whole was doubly balanced between salty batter and sweet syrup, and warm chicken and cool lettuce.
The third course was a Louisiana classic: jambalaya, a Creole-Cajun risotto. The version at Schoolyard contained all the right savory ingredients stewed in a hearty, spicy tomato sauce.
The main course was barbecued ribs, South Carolina-style, with grits and caramelized apple wedges. The tender meat on the baby back ribs in the sweet and zesty BBQ sauce was finger-licking good, paired perfectly with succulent white corn grits and glazed apple.
The great food went nicely with an inspired selection of craft beers by Rogue brewery in Oregon. Dessert was as authentic as the rest of the menu: pecan pie with vanilla ice cream in a bourbon sauce. The rich filling on the flaky crust, together with the quality ice cream, made for a delicious treat indeed.
There is no set schedule for the monthly dinners, but future meals are posted on the Schoolyard website at, as well as on its Facebook page, (both in Hebrew only). By filling out the form on the website or liking the FB page, you will be notified of upcoming events.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
Schoolyard @ Danon Not kosher 3 Hata’aruha St., Tel Aviv Port Tel: (03) 720-8941