Let's Eat

The top Jewish foodies of 2022

Victoria Prever picks the people who get an invitation to her top table: caterers, chefs, charity workers and many more


Claudia Roden
With more than 50 years of food writing under her belt, Roden is the Grande Dame of this list. Her books on Middle Eastern food are the original inspiration for so many — who hasn’t eaten a version of her orange and almond cake?

The Book of Jewish Food (reissued by Penguin this year) is not only a bible for the home cooks but also a painstakingly researched social history of our forefathers. At 86 years old she shows no signs of slowing down — bravo!

Ina Garten
At once aspirational and accessible — who would not want to sit around her table in New York’s Hamptons?

The US TV host and cookbook author started her career in politics before buying a speciality food store named The Barefoot Contessa in 1978, which she ran for 20 years. Successful cookbooks followed in the late 1990s and her own television shows a few years later. Although the majority of her food writing isn’t Jewish, she does knock out the occasional rugelach, challah and brisket.

Joan Nathan
The third of my line-up of Grande Dames also has a lifetime of food writing behind her. The US’s best-known Jewish food writer also started in politics, and was inspired to write her first Jewish food book (published in 1975) after living in Jerusalem as press officer for then mayorT eddy Kolleck.

She has written a series of cookbooks, including the Jewish Holiday Kitchen and Quiches, Kugels and Couscous about Jewish cooking in France. She continues to work as a journalist, speaker and writer.

Yotam Ottolenghi
No list of food heroes would be complete without the original Israeli superstar chef. One of the most unassuming, generous and all-round nice guys in food, he had originally looked to be heading towards a career in journalism, before veering off to study French patisserie at London’s Le Cordon Bleu.

The punchy flavours, interesting ingredients and unorthodox flavour combinations in his recipes have filled our plates and bookshelves for 20 years.

Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer
Two of the nicest people you could hope to meet, the husband-and-wife team behind Honey & Co are another source of punchy Israeli-inspired flavours.

Having come through the Ottolenghi kitchens, the pair opened their first restaurant in a tiny corner of Fitzrovia in 2012, which this year moved to bigger premises in Lamb’s Conduit street. They give back loads to the local community, including cooking up (for free) an annual festive meal for local pensioners and donating their time to various charities.

Naama Shefi
This lady’s mission is to celebrate and revitalise Jewish food traditions from all over the world. In 2016 she founded the Jewish Food Society, a charity of which she is now executive director.

The movement has grown steadily and under Shefi’s dynamic leadership, a food museum — Asif — was opened last year in Tel Aviv. There’s also a regular podcast, Schmaltzy, combining storytelling with Jewish food recorded in front of live audiences in New York.

Morris Herzog
Kosher wine could be still in the dark days of mildly alcoholic, saccharine-sweet grape juice were it not for Morris Herzog and his family.

The US Herzogs — owners of US kosher wine giant Royal Wine Corporation — have been pivotal to kosher wine’s renaissance. As managing director of Kedem Europe and Royal Wine Europe, he has persuaded Bordeaux vineyards, boutique French wineries and a plethora of award-winning winemakers to produce a kosher vintage, and continues to push the boundaries of what’s in our glasses. L’chaim!

Tony Page
No one stays at the top of their game for more than 30 years without a little magic, and this is especially true in the world of catering.

Page’s food and upscale event planning still knocks it out of the park and his Island Grill residency at the Royal Lancaster Hotel is without equal in kosher London.

Andrew Krausz
This action man has set the bar high in relation to gourmet kosher food. Not only did he build a smokehouse in his back garden, but he also has been known to catch his own fish to smoke in it.

Along with the fish, he produces (under his Blue Smoke brand) a range of smoked meats (including chicken wings, duck breast, lamb shoulder and beef ribs) that are so delicious he has regular orders to dispatch internationally. Alongside the proteins are his homemade sauces and handmade grazing boards loaded up with a range of goodies.

Jeff and Jodie Morgan
Based between California and Tel Aviv, the Morgans have been making top-flight, award-winning Covenant kosher wines at their Berkeley winery since 2003.

Kosher wine production brought Jeff, who grew up in a secular family and who celebrated his barmitzvah aged 40, closer to his spirituality. Prior to making wine, he’d made his career as a saxophonist, something he has more recently taken up again, putting on wine tasting and music afternoons. These are wines that destroy any remaining kosher wine snobbery in the community.

Michelle Barnett MBE (11), Rabbi Naftali Schiff and Lauren Fried
Three wonderful people who give so much to others. Barnett and Rabbi Schiff — co-founders of GIFT (Give It Forward Today) — have done amazing work to help feed those in need.

Most recently, the charity, with the help of powerhouse Fried, set up a soup kitchen — The Giving Kitchen — which dispatches hundreds of meals each week. The meals on wheels-style operation is kept moving by an army of volunteers, some of whom are happy to be paying it forward, having been helped by GIFT themselves.

Naomi Russell
Another selfless miracle worker, Russell is the founder of Food Bank Aid which supports an amazing 15 food banks across North London.

In the current climate her help is going to be even more appreciated. Since she started the operation from the garage of her Highgate home, Food Bank Aid has expanded into warehouse premises and now helps put food in the tummies of thousands of people every week.

Phil Rosenthal
He neither cooks, grows anything nor runs a restaurant, but Rosenthal’s gift to the world of food is the sheer joy he brings to people worldwide as we watch him noshing.

His adventures in food in his Netflix show Somebody Feed Phil is sunshine on the screen, bringing the world and its varied cuisines to us and opening our minds to travel. Such is his power to make tummies rumble, Rosenthal needs to be watched with a full platter of snacks to hand.

Assaf Granit
One of the founding fathers of Jerusalem institution Machneyuda (with Yossi Elad and Uri Navon) and now at the helm of 11 restaurants from London and Paris to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

He, Navon and the other co-founders of his second Paris restaurant, Shabour, succeeded in winning a Michelin star — the first Israeli-based menu to be awarded the coveted gong, an achievement that saw Israelis treat Granit and team as conquering heroes. He and the Machneyuda team have been a huge inspiration to so many.

Simone Krieger
A very local hero. When the pandemic hit, this one-woman catering company saw her work dry up overnight.

Instead of sitting at home bemoaning her fate, she devoted her efforts to helping those in need — making meals for charity You Donate, We Deliver and during later lockdown leading a team of chefs making meals for our desperate doctors and nurses in need. It’s great to see her back at the helm of her business again.

Uri Jeremias
The self-termed mayor of Akko with the beard of Father Time is a hero to many chefs for his fabulous food but as importantly known in Israel for his restaurants and hotel being symbols of co-existence.

His employees have always included both Muslim Arabs and Jews but that did not prevent his Uri Buri restaurant and hotel Effendi becoming targets during the 2021 riots. Both were torched but he was sanguine — and this year the restaurant reopened.

Nigella Lawson
Whatever you think of her affectations (think mee-kro-war-vay) and on-screen indulgence, Lawson’s food writing has led the way for over 20 years.

My food-splattered copy of her first cookbook — How to Eat — still holds pride of place in my kitchen. More than her flavour-filled food, it’s her colourful prose that’s a constant inspiration and a window into her kitchen. This year she went on tour in the US.

Tami Isaacs
The founder of South Hampstead’s Karma Bakery turned what was originally a way of soothing her mind into a thriving business. Her challah — a notch up from standard bakery breads — brought crowds of customers to her door.

They followed her to her first commercial premises in the shadow of the Royal Free Hospital. Her breadmaking skills have continued to grow and she has gathered awards year after year. This year saw a second branch open in Brent Cross Town.

Richard Caring
The perma-tanned businessman is one of the kings of catering, with decades of restaurant success behind him and a portfolio that includes some of London’s most chic venues.

Sexy Fish, The Ivy, Scott’s, Daphne’s and soon-to-open Bacchanalia all sit within his business, Caprice Holdings. The genius, as I see it, is how his team has managed to roll out the Ivy Collection of restaurants across the UK while managing to retain their distinctive style and high service values.

Chayli Fehler
As a mother of a teen, I know how hard it is to get them off their screens. So, hats off to Fehler, founder of Project ImpAct, a charity that gets teens volunteering, whether cooking, helping in food banks or visiting elderly and disabled people, giving their time to others.

Since lockdown, her charity has enlisted 500 teens across 28 schools to support more than 20 charities.

Spencer Metzger
There aren’t many Jewish chefs in the top flight. Chigwell-born Metzger has not only snagged the gig of Head Chef at London’s Ritz but has also been scooping up industry and media awards.

He was awarded champion of this year’s Great British Menu and, more recently, achieved a life goal — to be awarded a Master of Culinary Arts (MCA) by the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts.

Helen Graham and Marc Summers
It cannot have been easy setting up a restaurant a few months before lockdown, but founder Summers and executive chef Graham weathered the pandemic and have gone on to open a second branch of their Middle Eastern vegetarian/vegan eatery Bubala.

Graham’s flavours are stand-out stunning, and I would challenge any carnivore to miss the meat. They’re also lovely people.

Evelyn Rose
How could I not include my predecessor?

For decades she underpinned the UK’s Jewish menu, perfecting the haimishe classics and giving them a new spin inspired by her world travels. Her influence has been long-lasting — who of a certain generation doesn’t have one of her books on their shelves?

Jessie and Lennie Ware
This mother and daughter team and their guests have brightened many a walk via their podcast — Table Manners — which has become such a success they have even taken it on tour.

The pair have a way of getting the most out of their guests over their home-cooked meals. Paul Hollywood was laugh-out-loud funny judging Lennie’s tart, and GBBO winner Nadiya Hussain was open and honest with stories unheard before on her life and loves.

Jay Rayner
One of the hardest-working (and tallest) people in food writing, Rayner would call himself a journalist first and food writer second. His attention to detail is unmatched, whether in his restaurant reviews, radio show (he hosts BBC Radio 4 panel show The Kitchen Cabinet), books or podcast, Out to Lunch.

The podcast (which he is sadly stepping away from in 2023) is a hugely interesting listen for his inciteful questions, evidencing the deep delve he’s done on subjects’ Google profiles.

Grandma Betty, Grandma Doris and my mum, Gill
Neither of my grandmas (not pictured) are with us but their memories live on in with their recipes — honey cake, strudels, chicken soup and kneidlach, chopped liver, the crunchiest roast potatoes and so much more. The list is endless.

My mum still produces the most delicious food — dishes that we ask for on our birthdays and which my children now request on Yom Tovim. Everything they cooked for us was made with so much love.

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