Whole roasted cauliflower as interpreted by Eyal Shani, an Israeli celebrity chef, is about to make its debut in New York. The chef’s signature dish will be on the menu at a branch of Miznon, his global group of casual counter-service restaurants, opening at Chelsea Market in a couple of weeks.
The burnished head of cauliflower, first boiled in salt water that’s “always moving, like the sea,” as the chef put it, then gently massaged with olive oil and roasted, becomes a meltingly tender, pull-apart dish. Mr. Shani claims to have been the first to create it after noting a roasted head of cauliflower at the home of Shahar Segal, a filmmaker and advertising executive who is his partner at Miznon.
Whether or not he was first, whole cauliflower and cauliflower steaks have become popular around the world. And to hear this 59-year-old chef with impressively sculpted hair tell it, the cauliflower is only one of his achievements, including, as he claims, inventing “the first carpaccio in the world made from fish.” He also boasts about his tomato sashimi. “The world started copying me, and nobody gave me credit,” he said.
A self-taught chef who started his career in Jerusalem in 1989 with the high-end seafood restaurant Ocean, Mr. Shani became known for his bouillabaisse. “It was the best bouillabaisse because it was straight out of Julia Child’s book,” he said.
He eventually closed Ocean and spent several years consulting, catering and being a television celebrity chef.
With Mr. Segal, he opened Miznon in Tel Aviv in 2011. It now has a dozen locations, in Tel Aviv; Paris; Vienna; Melbourne, Australia; and now New York. He saw it as a way to bring his food to a younger, more budget-minded audience.