First part of four parts, please click hyperlink at bottom to continue to the next part
"There was one trip when I was younger when my parents took us to Switzerland. We crossed the border to Italy and we had one meal there," Chef Ori Menashe reminisced. "It was one of the best meals I have ever had. I don't remember where. I just remember the pizza and the pasta. Two of the greatest things I ever had but I always thought I'd go into the direction of French food."
Fortunately for Los Angeles that one meal Ori had in Italy as a child was a harbinger of culinary things to come in Menashe's career. Now as chef and co-Owner (with his wife Genevieve, and biz partner Bill Chait) of one of Los Angeles's most popular chef driven Italian restaurants Bestia, Chef Menashe is serving his chef driven Italian cuisine to over three hundred and sixty people on a slow night, and over four hundred and sixty people on a Friday or Saturday night. With 150 seats, Bestia in its first year of business did over one hundred thousand covers. This year, in its second year of business, Bestia is on pace to do over one hundred and thirty thousand covers.
Still though as a child, instead of Italian food, aside from that one meal across the Swiss border, Ori's father exposed Ori's to other cuisines particularly French cuisine. Ori's parents owned a clothing company called French Connection. For work, His father would travel frequently to Europe for inspiration. Paris was the main destination. His father would take Ori along on these trips. Ori's dad loves food, so as a child Ori would eat terrain a fois gras, cote de boeuf, and all things at all of his dad's favorite places in Paris like L'Atelier Joel Robuchan and Alain Ducasse's restaurants. Ori's dad would also send Ori to school with Saumon fumé and pita bread. Much later in Ori's life after he spent a few years in kitchens here in Los Angeles, Ori again went to France with his dad and spoke with sous chefs at L'Atelier Joel Robuchan. These chefs there told him that whenever Ori was ready to give them a call to come and work for them in that prestigious Parisian kitchen.
Ori's father also loved to cook. His father was an experimental cook who tried a lot of different cuisines. Ori's father didn't have a culinary background but his dad was always around his mom, Ori's grandmother, who Ori stated was an amazing cook. Ori's grandmother, who was originaly from the country of Georgia, lived in Israel. Her living in Israel was part of the reason Ori's family moved to Israel from Los Angeles when Ori was eight years old. Ori ate his grandmother's cooking for the first time at this age. She made Georgian food which is similar to Turkish, Armenian and Eastern European food and includes items like dolma, stuffed grape leaves, and hinkali, a dumpling stuff stuffed with beef cooked in a garlic broth. Ori's mom of Moroccan descent cooked some too, but she was much better with sweets than savory dishes.
When Ori's family moved back to Israel, his father opened a bakery. Much later Ori's father opened up a restaurant with Ori's brother where his dad's runs the kitchen, and his brother runs the front of the house. Because his father actually got into the business, when Ori was younger his dad advised Ori not to become a chef because of how hard the lifestyle is and how hard it is to be with family.
End of Part 1, please click here to continue to Part 2.