CLEVER COOKING with HAYA MOLCHO
A heated cook-off between the Israeli top chef and her son
Two culinary experts put our multi-purpose cookware to the test
Haya Molcho is a shining star in the international culinary scene. In a heated cook-off with her son, the entrepreneur put our Clever Cooking collection to the test. Find out how it went, learn some insider tips, and whet your appetite for a visit to one of the trendy NENI restaurants.
“Shakshuka is a little Old School.”
— Nuriel —
“What do you mean, ‘Old School?’ You’ve grown up with shakshuka, what's this nonsense?”
— Haya —
Watching the popular chef Haya Molcho and her son Nuriel in the kitchen, it is obvious that cooking is their passion. Ordinary tasks such as blanching tomatoes, pitting chilies or grilling eggplant are performed with precise virtuosity. Even in the heat of competition, the well-practiced coordination among this mother-son team is obvious. Who will emerge as the top chef in the Clever Cooking Challenge?
A new way of dining
If you want to create a relaxed atmosphere at the dinner table, all you need is the courage to let go. The Molchos show how it is done: Anything that looks good gets put on the table, often without bothering to transfer it from the cutting board. The table is decorated with whole chilies, lemon halves, and fresh herbs. Salt is piled on a small mound rather than filled in a salt shaker. And instead of neatly slicing bread, people simply rip off a piece!
Shakshuka à la Haya
Not only is shakshuka one of Israel's national dishes, it is also the world’s best hangover cure! Give it a try some time. Prepare the meal using the largest Clever Cooking dishes, which you can later place directly on the table. The baking pans match any china, and by having guests serve themselves, you are automatically creating a merry, lively atmosphere. Just like home with the Molchos!
A little grilled eggplant on the side
As if the cook-off wasn’t enough to keep them busy, Haya and Nuriel also prepared some eggplant on the side. The open flame of the gas stove created a perfectly smoked flavor. Of course, you could also make these in the oven: Grill the eggplant until it is soft and you can see small bubbles. Then scrape off the black skin, pull apart the flesh, and add a little salt.
Haya Molcho has always enjoyed trying new things and developing her very own recipes. While she cooks primarily Israeli dishes, her culinary influences range from Moroccan to Indian to Romanian – her parents’ native country. All her culinary creations have one thing in common, though: fresh and high-quality ingredients.
Good, transparent, and full of flavor. These are the pillars on which Haya Molcho and her sons built their first restaurant, which opened in 2009. Since then, NENI has expanded to three locations that have come to epitomize modern oriental cuisine. The name is an acronym formed of the four sons’ initials, symbolizing the family spirit that guides the Molchos’ life. This is also apparent to any guest visiting the NENI: Here, everyone is part of the family.
“Cooking is my life,” the internationally renowned chef says about herself. Indeed, her passion is reflected in everything Haya Molcho does. Following the Clever Cooking Challenge, we had an opportunity to talk to the approachable chef to learn more about her career and her life as a mother.
How often do you prepare home-cooked meals?
I cook every day – for my family, for friends, any time. It is my life, my passion.
What does Israel bring to the culinary table?
Variety. If Israel were a meal, it would be a five-course dinner.
What was your sons’ culinary upbringing like?
Luckily, they ate everything and have always been very open minded. For them, every meal was a surprise:
What did Haya come up with this time? I was constantly experimenting with new ideas, whether it was Indian, African, or my own recipes. There was no time for fast food in the boys’ life.
Do all NENI restaurants offer the same menu?
There are a few regional differences. For example, at our Hamburg location, we offer more fish since we can get it fresh there.
Lately, you've been getting your vegetables from your own farm in Romania. How did that come about?
I love tomatoes, but in Central Europe, it is hard to find ones that meet my expectations. So we had the idea to grow them ourselves. At first, my husband thought I was crazy and said: “I married a princess who turned into a cook. And now she is a farmer! We laughed a lot about it.