Eyal Shani: The Self-Taught Israeli Chef

Eyal Tobia Mordechai Shani, born on January 6, 1959, in Jerusalem, is a self-taught Israeli chef known for his culinary creativity and love for fresh ingredients.

Passion for Fresh Ingredients

Shani's culinary journey is marked by his passion for fresh ingredients, which is evident in his direct sourcing of tomatoes from Hebron and herbs harvested in the Jerusalem mountains for his restaurant "Ocean." His menu prices are considered high, and his dishes are known for their flavorful combinations.

Professional Career

Shani began his professional career at the "HaKankan" restaurant in the Ayalon Mall.

In 1989, he gained fame as a chef and partner, alongside his then-wife Rachel Salam and Reuven Gross, at the upscale restaurant "Ocean" in Jerusalem. Over time, Shani became the main owner of the restaurant. The restaurant closed in 1999 due to financial difficulties after a decade of operation.

In 1999, he opened a restaurant with the same name in Herzliya, with investors Rachel Salam and Dov Goldstein. However, this restaurant also closed a few months later.

In 2004, Shani and director Shahar Segal presented the TV show "Food for Thought," which aired on Channel 8. The show explored topics such as family, relationships, sexuality, and children, with Shani using cooking as a way to connect with the people he met during the program. Each episode featured Shani preparing a meal inspired by the philosophical discussions of the guests.

In February 2008, he opened the "Salon" restaurant in Tel Aviv.

Until 2009, Shani wrote a culinary column in the newspaper "Haaretz," together with his partner Miri Hanoch. In 2009, he began appearing alongside Hanoch in the documentary series "Connected," produced for HOT (Season 1). In the same year, he opened another restaurant called "Tzfon Abraxas" with Shahar Segal.

In 2010, the documentary series "Where is the Food?" aired on Channel 8, hosted by Shani. Each episode focused on a different food ingredient, exploring its origin and preparation.

Later that year, Shani also participated as one of the judges in the Israeli version of the reality show "MasterChef" on Channel 2. "Where is the Food?" continued for another season in 2012, and "MasterChef" became a television success, continuing for multiple seasons.

In January 2011, he opened the first branch of "Miznon" on Ibn Gabirol Street in Tel Aviv, selling dishes inspired by his other restaurants, wrapped in pita bread.

In November 2012, Shani, together with "HaTadr Group" and Shahar Segal, opened "Port Said," a bar-restaurant on Har Sinai Street in Tel Aviv. In early 2012, Shani and Segal filmed a web series where they cooked various dishes. Each episode was shot and produced by their friends and was exclusively released on YouTube.

In August 2013, another branch of "Miznon" opened on King George Street in Tel Aviv.

In October 2013, he opened the first branch of "Miznon" in Paris.

In 2016, he opened "Romano," a restaurant in the Romano House in South Tel Aviv. The restaurant's style is similar to "Port Said."

Today, Shani serves as a chef and culinary consultant for restaurants and caters to private events. He also continues to star in cooking shows.

In 2017, he received the title of "Best Chef" from Time Out Israel.

In 2018, he opened his kosher restaurant, "Malcah."

In 2022, with 36 restaurants under his belt, Shani signed an agreement with his partner Shahar Segal and real estate entrepreneur Liran Wizman to open up to 150 branches of "Miznon" and "Salon" in Central and Western Europe over the next five years.

Financial Troubles and Bankruptcy

Shani's financial troubles began in 1999 with the closure of two branches of the "Ocean" restaurant in Jerusalem and Herzliya.

In 2003, due to the closures, his then-wife and business partner, Rachel Salam, filed a bankruptcy claim against him, totaling 6.64 million shekels. Subsequently, a court order was issued to seize Shani's assets for the benefit of the First International Bank.

In 2004, First International Bank requested the appointment of a special manager for Shani's case.

In 2011, Shani was declared bankrupt, and the court ordered him to immediately repay 189,000 shekels to the bankruptcy estate, which amounted to 35% of his debts. Additionally, the court ruled that he would have to forfeit half of his income from media appearances for two years following the judgment. Shani appealed this decision to the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, the court also ordered him to make monthly payments of 25,000 shekels to the bankruptcy estate, in addition to his media earnings, which were transferred in full to the bankruptcy estate.

In December 2012, due to delays in making the monthly payments as ordered, the court ruled that Shani must immediately pay 189,000 shekels to the bankruptcy estate or face 45 days in prison.

Shani's associates helped him raise the funds, and he avoided imprisonment. In early 2013, the Supreme Court decided that he had to repay the full debt of 4 million shekels. In April 2013, Shani completed the repayment of his debts to the bankruptcy estate with a loan from a friend, finally concluding the bankruptcy proceedings.

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