Running a kitchen in Tel Aviv, Israel for 6 years shaped me as a person and in particular my ideology for the function of the back of house. As Xoho (a small, innovative restaurant owned by Xoli Ormit-Durbin) grew into a household name in our beachside city, I inadvertently became the leader of a group of ambitious, hungry young women in a kitchen where the sky was our limit. That space became an incubator for creative, collaborative talent that just needed some gentle petting in order to be fully realized. Within those walls we all grew profoundly. Each week we created new, market driven specials, catering to both the local Israeli palette and being sure to always push ourselves in hopes that the audience we served would notice. Which they did. The New York Times even thinks so ;).
Now, I work along side Yonatan Rosen in an ambitious project we call Exquisite River. It is Dinner & Memory and we are the curators of the immersive dining experience that takes place wherever there is a need. We travel across the country doing site-specific pop-ups that engage people in questions about philosophy, politics, architecture, all while feasting on an elaborate menu that also reflects the local and/or theme. These range from such events as "A Brunch in Time of Crisis"; a comforting daytime event with vaguely Middle Eastern influence asking us to reflect on the role of feminism in the household - to "Present President"; a commentary of our current political crisis through catharsis of food and good company. The overall effect of bringing people together to participate in Dinner & Memory has lasting impact on everyone involved and is only going to continue to grow as we expand our program to involve new locations and international audiences.
"Even in café-crazed Tel Aviv, Xoho stands out. Everything, from the piping-hot bagels, to the buttery, chocolate-chip cookies, the umami-bomb kale ceasar salad and even the jams and spreads – is made in-house."
- Jonna Bloom, Timeout Israel (2014)