Israel Aharoni, born on July 3, 1951, is an Israeli chef and restaurateur, known as one of the pioneers of fine dining and Chinese cuisine in Israel. Aharoni has owned several restaurants, writes a culinary column in the "Seven Days" supplement of Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, and has authored numerous cookbooks. He has also made appearances in various television programs, including acting roles.
Israel Aharoni was born as Israel Arnbaev in Haifa to parents who immigrated from Bukhara, Uzbekistan. He grew up in the Poalei Ham neighborhood in Haifa. His grandfather, on his father's side, was a prominent rabbi in the Bukhara Jewish community in Samarkand.
Upon his enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), he served in Golani Brigade's 13th Battalion. During his service, he completed a combat medic course and served as a combat medic during the Yom Kippur War.
Israel Aharoni first encountered Chinese cuisine through the mother of his partner. Intrigued, he traveled to Taiwan in the Far East in 1979 to study the art of Chinese cooking. Upon his return to Israel, he opened the restaurant "Yin-Yang" on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, followed by "Tai-Chi" in Gan Ha'ir, Tel Aviv, and a Chinese grocery store adjacent to the restaurant, offering specialty Chinese food products imported from China.
In the late 1990s, he opened the French gourmet restaurant "Pomme d'Or" in Tel Aviv, which closed after a few years. Later, he established the Chinese restaurant "Fu Kua" in the Herzliya Industrial Zone. In the early 21st century, Aharoni moved his iconic "Yin-Yang" restaurant to a new location – the Millennium Tower on Fourteenth Street in Tel Aviv. He added a unique Vietnamese menu, the only one of its kind in Israel. In late 2008, "Yin-Yang" closed.
Israel Aharoni began his career in journalism with a food column in the "Hadashot" newspaper, where he humorously reviewed new snacks and treats entering the market. Starting from the mid-1980s and continuing to this day, Aharoni has been writing a regular culinary column every Friday in "Yedioth Ahronoth."
Aharoni has authored numerous cookbooks. He continues to write food columns for newspapers and hosts cooking shows on television. He also serves as a culinary consultant for many restaurants and occasionally works as a DJ.
In 2000, he co-hosted the television show "Derech Ha'Ochel" (The Food Route) with Gavri Banai on Channel 2, which explored traditional Israeli dishes.
In June 2011, he began airing the culinary travelogue series "The Wonderful Journey of Aharoni and Gidi" on Channel 10, co-starring Aharoni and Gidi Gov. The first season focused on the Silk Road's culinary heritage in Asia, followed by episodes exploring street food in various countries and regions worldwide, such as Japan, Brazil, Morocco, and Sicily. As of 2020, the show has run for eight seasons.
In 2014, Aharoni served as the presenter for "Salatei Shmir" (Pickled Salads), but he resigned after a year due to poor laboratory results of the salads that were presented.
On March 9, 2017, he joined the seventh season of the reality show "MasterChef" as a judge, which aired on Channel 12.
In 2020, he published his book "Aharoni: Culinary Journeys in My Life" through Ahuzat Bayit Publishing. The book is described as a "culinary autobiography" and includes stories from his life alongside recipes.
Israel Aharoni is married to Hagit (Gigi), a psychologist by profession, and they have three biological children, as well as one adopted son from Congo, the actor Michael Kavia Aharoni (who participated in "Kochav Nolad" and "Ninja Israel").
Israel Aharoni has been a part of several successful cooking programs on various television channels. Additionally, he has occasionally made guest appearances as himself in non-cooking related TV shows, such as "Kochav Nolad" and "Shetotot" (Wheels). In 2006, he portrayed the character of Sergeant Aharon, the army chef of the Nahal Band, in the third season of the show "HaShir Shelanu" (Our Song). In 2020, Aharoni played himself as a guest star in the TV series "HaTabbach" (The Chef), which aired on the YES network.
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