Chef Einat Admony Is Sick of the Bull Sh*t Hype
When Einat Admony and her husband Stefan Nafziger first opened the doors to their West Village falafel shop, Taïm (222 Waverly Place, 212-691-1287), in 2007, Admony didn't feel proud. "I was a little ashamed," she admits. "I was at a really nice restaurant before Taïm, and to open a falafel restaurant, especially for an Israeli, felt a little shameful." That didn't last long -- the couple took a simple street food item and made it into something truly special, and after a bit of a rocky start, Taïm became a beloved neighborhood staple and a great springboard for Balaboosta (214 Mulberry Street, 212-966-7366), the "real restaurant" the pair opened in 2011, and modern Israeli eatery Bar Bolonat (611 Hudson Street), which opened last week.
Admony was young when she started working in the kitchen. "I didn't have a choice at the beginning," she says. "I came from a very religious family. I never grew religious; I was always the black sheep. But I grew up like that, and one amazing thing that I miss and keep in my own house is Shabbat with my kids and friends. When I grew up, Shabbat meant start cooking on Thursday and into Friday evening. Dinner was five courses," after which the entire family would observe the day of rest. In anticipation of that meal, Admony's mother would put her to work peeling leeks and cleaning the lettuce until she was deemed ready to help create dishes.
Admony entered the military at 18, and then, after two months of college, headed off to Europe, where she spent four years in Germany and one in Amsterdam. She continued to cook, so when she returned to Israel determined to start a career at age 24, she decided cooking was the only thing she could do for the long haul. "People ask me what I would want to do if I wasn't a chef, and I say, 'Unemployment, probably,'" she says. "I like other things, but none as much as cooking."
She enrolled in culinary school and then landed a job in one of the best restaurants in Israel. After two years, she decided to come to New York, and she worked her way through kitchens dealing in all sorts of different cuisines; her resume includes Patria, Bolo, Tabla, and David Bouley's Danube. She met Nafziger at Danube, and they stumbled into the Taïm space thanks to a couple of friends who owned the place next door. Six months after Taïm opened, the couple's first child was born (they now have two), and they've spent the years since growing that first concept while developing Balaboosta and building out Bar Bolonat.
Here, Admony talks about hype she hates, what she wishes diners would pay attention to, and what she's planning for the future.