Don’t ask for the calorie count or how many cups of cream, chocolate and sugar were involved in the prep for the recent master class with Israeli pastry Chef Alon Shabo. The results were worth every bite and dip of the spoon – a welcome opportunity to sample a taste of Israel.
Whipped together on short notice – literally thrown into the mix of a busy March calendar – the Passover Pastry Workshop was staged for an intimate gathering of 30 women hosted at Specialties Showroom in Berkley, and co-sponsored by Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy and Israel and Overseas Departments in partnership with Community Shlicha, Nina Yahalomi Klevitsky, and Mekomee Eats – a “Global Culinary Tribe” founded by Morielle Lotan and based in New York City.
“Thank you for trusting me with the prep for this event,” Nina said to the group, as desserts came seamlessly together. Two weeks ago, I came to the Women’s Philanthropy leadership team at Federation with this amazing opportunity and told them, ‘I know we’re going to do this Israeli-style, like really fast. I know that’s not how you usually plan things, but let’s make it happen. And they gave us the green light to run with it.”
Demonstrating his dessert prowess and finesse with French pastry (it’s all in the wrist), Chef Shabo breezed through two of his signature Workshop Recipes, easily adapted for Passover: first, there were melt-in-the-mouth lemon cream macaroons; then came a dreamy confection billed as a simple “cake” created in rich layers of dark chocolate crunch and mousse finished with a satiny glaze of chocolate ganache.
Chef Shabo, 28, started his career as a cook at Omer Miller’s HaSchulhan (now closed), but quickly realized his passion was in pastry-making—with an artful twist. While earning a professional degree from Bishulium School, he became the head pastry chef of both establishments. Today, he works as a freelancer and consults with some of the finest restaurants around the world to build dessert menus that run from classic French to avant-garde.
“Alon is a total star in Israel,” says Morielle. “He was the first chef I brought to New York with the idea of opening a platform to promote the culinary scene in Israel. I had no idea what I was doing when I hosted him in my apartment for a party of eight, but the next day my husband said, ‘This could be a really cool business, so let’s find another place to work.’ Long story short, I now work out of the kitchen showroom in NY Loft in Manhattan. Since we opened Mekomee (the Hebrew word for “local”), in September 2017, we have featured the work of four Israeli chefs in workshops and events that have brought more than 600 people through our doors. It’s not a profitable business – not yet. But it’s an important one. There is no other one type of event that brings people together quicker than food—and the discussions that happen around the table and afterwards are life-changing, so it’s worth it for me.”
Born in New York, Morielle, 35, has spent half her life in Israel. Prior to moving back to New York with her husband and infant son a year ago, Morielle was a nuclear strategist working in the field of international security. With strong ties still in Israel, she has found a niche where she continues to explore the world at large, and practice her own form of diplomacy, celebrating our “Global Culinary Tribe” and bringing people to the table to share it. “The response to Mekomee has been amazing,” she says. “And the best thing about it for me is that I get to connect to the communities and the chefs who come to America to work and then get back home to live where they want to live.”
“I believe that food is a language that connects people, and that with the proper knowledge, anyone can set amazing dishes on the table.” – Chef Alon Sabo
Partnering for the third time with Morielle, Alon widely travels to perfect and impart his culinary skills in workshops. He expressed his interest in returning to Detroit to further explore the food scene here. “This has been a wonderful experience,” he said, “I really enjoy being in America because the desserts and tastes here are so different. The cream tastes different and even the sugar is less sweet that what I know in Israel. It’s really nice exploring this and to see that what everyone has in common is their pleasure when we bring a dessert to the table prepared with love and special care.”