Yossi Elad | The Palomar, Soho
Yossi has been working since he was 16 years old. The kitchen really is his home, and he welcomes everyone inside with open arms. Sixteen of the Palomar’s best seats are at the bar that wraps around the kitchen, and as they work, the chefs hand over your dishes, top up your water and invite you for a round of shots. Yossi has been known to drape his arm over diners, sit down with them for a glass of wine and introduce them to the table next door.
“No angry chef can make good food,” says Yossi. “We cook from love; love to people, love to food. It’s the way of Middle Eastern hospitality. In a Bedouin tent you sit in a circle and eat from a single plate in the centre. When you eat form the same plate you suddenly feel very close.
“I like to eat with a spoon or with my hands, even in a fancy restaurant. I have to feel the food as well as see it. We encourage people in here to forget the knife and tear the bread with the hands. All of a sudden they’ve got permission to be involved with the food and they love it.
I used to be a baker and I miss it. Our kubaneh is a bit like a brioche, served in the pot it’s baked in. It’s a Yemenite bread that’s traditionally served on Saturday mornings. During Shabbat you’re not supposed to cook or switch ovens on or off, so the bread goes in before the stars come out on Friday evening and it comes out in the morning.”