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Moshiko Gamlieli and Lello Favuzzi – two of Jerusalem’s and London’s top chefs – swap kitchens and countries.
The 2019 London Restaurant Festival has drawn to a close having showcased some of the very best the capital has to offer in all things restaurant. From a sushi masterclass or restaurant hopping through five venues in a day to a mini film festival, there’s been a great programme for London’s foodies to get their teeth into and their taste buds humming.
One of the highlights was ‘‘Top Ten Cuisines’,’ a series of exclusive events celebrating some of the cooking styles which have moulded London’s current food trends. This year the focus has been on Jerusalem’s buzzing restaurant scene and Mortimer House Kitchen’s culinary mix of Italian and Middle Eastern made it the perfect place to put on a special tasting menu event inspired by the best of that city’s cuisine.
The event was the first leg of a ‘’chef swap’’ featuring Mortimer House Kitchen’s head chef Lello Favuzzi and Moshiko Gamlieli from Jerusalem’s top restaurants, Mona and Anna, and the idea is that each chef prepares three of the six courses on the tasting menu. For the second leg in November, Lello will travel to Jerusalem to take part in the city’s OpenRestaurants festival, again cooking with Moshiko.
At the London leg the open kitchen was a buzz of activity as each cook worked on their dishes and while you could see the strong relationship between the two chefs, a bit of Masterchef-like competitiveness must have been in their minds when it came to their food choices.
To kick off the evening Moshiko’s mezze plates featured crispy cigars of fresh crab with a quenelle of creamy labneh, a bruschetta topped with a soft sardine with spicy fennel marmalade, kubenia (a sort of steak tartare) on a puddle of tahini and za’atar (the fresh herb not the dried mix) on a bed of baba ganoush. Every plate was an absolute delight, and together they were a superb mix of textures and flavours. Follow that, Lello!
Lello did – with a starter simply described as vitello tonnato (veal tuna) but presented as an elegant plate of rare veal slices, delicate tuna tartare, chard and buttons of tuna sauce, and finished with a quail egg. Fabulous.
Lello’s follow up was a pasta course of three beetroot tortelli filled with gently smoked burrata and ricotta plus some pickled golden beets and roasted pistachios, all covered in melted butter. Another great, great dish. Moshiko’s main course was a piece of grouper, beautifully cooked (which goes without saying) served alongside a freekeh risotto and caramelised kohlrabi with a bisque-like Persian lemon jus. Delicious.
To finish off, Moshiko’s dessert was a bowl of sour cream sherbet filled with honied dates and rose gel on a light sablé. Superb.
As for the Jerusalem leg, OpenRestaurants Jerusalem runs from the 19th to the 23rd of November and celebrates the city’s fusion of traditional Middle Eastern, North African, South American and exotic Asian flavours through everything from street food to fine dining, as well as talks and tastings with top Israeli chefs.
The festival is yet another reason, as if it were needed, to visit Jerusalem, a truly (speaking from experience) fascinating city, a real mixture of ancient and modern, spiritual and secular.
And to give a lucky couple the chance to enjoy the city as well as this gastronomic experience, OpenRestaurants are running a competition with the winners being treated to return flights, a stay at a top hotel, tickets to Jerusalem OpenRestaurants events and a tour of Mahane Yehuda Market. This is a once in a lifetime trip and you can enter the competition here.
The second leg of the chef swap will take place in Mona Restaurant on Thursday 21st November when Lello and Moshiko will again give their guests a superb evening of fine dining. There’s no guarantee that the menu on offer in Jerusalem menu will be exactly the same as London’s but it is certain that the dishes served will be just as fantastic – and food writers will run out of superlatives to describe them.
And while Lello and Moshiko won’t be in competition like Masterchef, one thing is sure –
Cooking doesn’t get better than this….
Mortimer House Kitchen
37–41 Mortimer Street
London W1T 3JH
Tel: 020 7139 4401
London Restaurant Festival Ltd
6 Lower Grosvenor Place
London SW1W 0EN
Tel: 020 7834 6013