If you see a pink Vespa pull up in front of Balaboosta on Mulberry Street, odds are chef Einat Admony is arriving at work.
The chef of Taïm, a West Village falafel joint, and Clean Plates-approved Balaboosta, her restaurant in NoLita (read the full review), draws inspiration from her native Tel Aviv. One sunny spring afternoon we sat in the corner booth at Balaboosta and discussed her upcoming cookbook, how she gets in the kitchen even on vacation, and why her signature chicken is anything but boring.
If someone is sitting down at Balaboosta for the first time, what should they order?
It would have to be the chicken – and I never order chicken! So often it is boring. Here an all-natural half chicken is cooked under a brick and served with Israeli couscous with dried apricots, green leeks, and gremolata sauce. I also love my crispy cabbage salad with romaine, savoy cabbage, roasted almonds, crispy noodle, cumin, and a fresh mint vinaigrette – it has so much texture.
The media puts your food in many categories; how would you describe it?
My food is Mediterranean-Middle Eastern, with the addition of my own Israeli soul. I’m constantly pushing myself to do new things. Right now I’m really excited about my new fresh pasta machine: I’m making an incredible beet pasta. Plans are also in the works for a new restaurant focused on fish dishes.
What’s the best part of being a chef? If you weren’t, what other profession would you be?
I wake up every day and have the opportunity to reinvent myself. When I come up with a special or a dish that I think is insane, when I create something memorable it is so satisfying. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Isn’t it hard to find time to travel? What kind of inspiration do you bring back?
I am a good delegator, so I make the time to travel. My son Liam is five and a half and he’s been to Israel at least five times. When I travel to Israel I eat old favorites, things that can’t be duplicated elsewhere. When I’m abroad I always go to the restaurants and get in the kitchens. I tell them: I teach you, you teach me.
How can fans recreate your dishes at home?
In 2013 I have a cookbook coming out. The chapters are organized by situation or mood, such as “Rainy Day” or “Backyard Party.” The book has recipes for a romantic “Grown Up Table” or “Kidding Around” for cooking with children. I want people to use this book, so the ingredients aren’t difficult to find. My food is friendly and delicious.
Image courtesy of Einat Admony.