Yotam Assaf Ottolenghi
14 December 1968
|Education||Tel Aviv University (Adi Lautman Interdisciplinary Programme for Outstanding Students)|
Karl Allen (m. 2012)
|Cooking style||Middle Eastern|
Yotam Assaf Ottolenghi (born 14 December 1968) is an Israeli-English chef, restaurateur, and food writer. He is the co-owner of six delis and restaurants in London, as well as the author of several bestselling cookbooks, including Ottolenghi (2008), Plenty (2010), Jerusalem (2012) and SIMPLE (2018).
Yotam Ottolenghi was born to Jewish parents in West Jerusalem and raised in Ramat Denya, Jerusalem, the son of Michael Ottolenghi, a chemistry professor at Hebrew University, and Ruth Ottolenghi, a high school principal. He is of Italian-Jewish and German-Jewish descent, and often spent his childhood summers in Italy. He has an older sister, Tirza Florentin. His younger brother, Yiftach, was killed by friendly fire in 1992 during his military service. Ottolenghi is an Italian name, an Italianised form of Ettlingen, a town in Baden-Württemberg from where Jews were expelled in the 15th and 16th centuries; many settled in Northern Italy.
Ottolenghi was conscripted into the Israel Defence Forces in 1989, serving three years in IDF intelligence headquarters. He then studied at the Adi Lautman Interdisciplinary Programme for Outstanding Students of Tel Aviv University, where in 1997, he completed a combined bachelor's and master's degree in comparative literature; his thesis being on the philosophy of the photographic image. While working on his thesis, Ottolenghi served as a night copy editor for Haaretz. In 1997, Ottolenghi and his then-partner Noam Bar moved to Amsterdam, where he edited the Hebrew section of the Dutch-Jewish weekly NIW and considered getting his doctorate in comparative literature. Instead, he moved to London to study French cooking at Le Cordon Bleu.
Ottolenghi met his partner Karl Allen in 2000; they married in 2012 and live in Camden with their two sons, Max (b. 2013) and Flynn (b. 2015). In 2013, Ottolenghi "came out as a gay father" in a Guardian essay that detailed the lengthy process of conceiving Max via gestational surrogacy, an option that he believes should be more widely available to those who cannot conceive naturally.
Ottolenghi served as a pastry chef at three London restaurants: the Michelin-starred Capital Restaurant, Kensington Place, and Launceston Place in Kensington New Town. In 1999, he became head pastry chef at the artisanal pastry shop Baker and Spice, where he met the Arab-Palestinian chef Sami Tamimi, who grew up in Jerusalem's Old City. Ottolenghi and Tamimi bonded over a shared language—Hebrew—and a joint "incomprehension of traditional English food".
In 2002, the duo (in collaboration with Noam Bar) founded the eponymous delicatessen Ottolenghi in the Notting Hill district of London. The deli quickly gained a cult following due to its inventive dishes, characterised by the foregrounding of vegetables, unorthodox flavour combinations, and the abundance of "noisy" Middle Eastern ingredients such as rose water, za'atar, and pomegranate molasses. When asked to explain his cooking philosophy, Ottolenghi said, "I want drama in the mouth." The Ottolenghi brand has since expanded to include two more delis (in Kensington and Belgravia), a formal restaurant in Islington, a brasserie named NOPI in Soho, and a vegetable-centric restaurant named Rovi which opened in Fitzrovia in June 2018.
In 2006, Ottolenghi began writing a weekly column for The Guardian titled "The New Vegetarian," though he himself is not a vegetarian and has sometimes noted where a vegetable-centric recipe would pair well with a particular cut of meat. Influenced by the straightforward, culturally-grounded food writing of Nigella Lawson and Claudia Roden, Ottolenghi's recipes rarely fit within traditional dietary or cultural categories. He explained that his mission is to "celebrat[e] vegetables or pulses without making them taste like meat, or as complements to meat, but to be what they are. It does no favour to vegetarians, making vegetables second best."
His debut cookbook Ottolenghi was published in 2008 and has sold over 100,000 copies. Six volumes have followed: the all-vegetable cookbooks Plenty (2010) and Plenty More (2014); Jerusalem (2012); Nopi (2015); the dessert cookbook Sweet (2017); and Ottolenghi Simple (2018). Ottolenghi's bestselling cookbooks have proven influential, with The New York Times noting that they are "widely knocked-off for their plain-spoken instructions, puffy covers, and photographs [that Ottolenghi] oversees himself, eschewing a food stylist". In 2014, the London Evening Standard remarked that Ottolenghi had "radically rewritten the way Londoners cook and eat", and Bon Appétit wrote that he had "made the world love vegetables". "Jerusalem" (2012) was a central aspect in South Croydon spoken-word artist Loyle Carner's single "Ottolenghi" (October 2018). The ambiguity of the title is considered—the misinterpretation of the title as a "bible" forming the basis for a verse: "They asked about the bible I was reading | Told them that the title was misleading | Labelled it Jerusalem but really it's for cooking Middle Eastern".
Ottolenghi has hosted three television specials: Jerusalem on a Plate (BBC4, 2011); Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Feast (More4, 2012); and Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Island Feast (More4, 2013). In 2017, he served as a guest judge on the ninth and eleventh season of the cooking game show Masterchef Australia. He had declined numerous guest-judge offers in the past and agreed to appear on Masterchef Australia "because it's quite humane and positive....It's about the personal development of the contestants more than the competition."
- Ottolenghi: The Cookbook (2008) (with Sami Tamimi)
- Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi (2010)
- Jerusalem: A Cookbook (2012) (with Sami Tamimi)
- Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London's Ottolenghi (2014)
- Nopi: The Cookbook (2015) (with Ramael Scully)
- Sweet: Desserts from London's Ottolenghi (2017) (with Helen Goh)
- Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook (2018)
- Ottolenghi FLAVOUR (2020) (with Ixta Belfrage) ISBN 9781785038938
Awards and recognition
- 2010 Galaxy National Book Awards "Food and Drink Book of the Year" for Plenty
- 2010 Observer Food Monthly's "Best Cookbooks Ever", Plenty ranked number 40
- 2011 Condé Nast Traveler "Innovation and Design Awards", NOPI, winner of the Gourmet award 
- 2011 Observer Food Monthly's "Best Cookbook Award" winner for Plenty
- 2012 Restaurant and Bar Design Awards, "Identity" category for the restaurant Nopi
- 2012 Guild of Food Writers Awards, "Kate Whiteman Award for Work on Food and Travel" for Jerusalem on a Plate (BBC4)
- 2013 James Beard Award "International Cookbook" for Jerusalem 
- 2013 Guild of Food Writers Awards, "Cookery Book Award" for Jerusalem
- 2013 Guild of Food Writers Awards, "Evelyn Rose Award for Cookery Journalist" for journalism in The Guardian
- 2013 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, the Dun Gifford Award winner for Jerusalem
- 2013 International Association of Culinary Professionals Awards, winner of the International award and the Best Cookbook award for Jerusalem
- 2013 Fortnum and Mason Food and Drink Awards, "Television Programme of the Year" for Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Feast (Keo Films)
- 2013 German Gastronomic Academy Silver Medal for Jerusalem
- 2013 Observer Food Monthly "Best Cookbook Award" for Jerusalem
- 2014 Specsavers National Book Awards "Food and Drink Book of the Year" for Plenty More
- 2015 Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Brandeis University 
- 2016 James Beard Award "Cooking from a Professional Point of View" for NOPI, the Cookbook
- Slater, Robert (31 January 2013). "Cooking Up a Storm in London," The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved on 19 October 2017.
- Ottolenghi, Yotam (7 March 2017). "The Bright Magic of Citrus in the Baking Pan," The New York Times. Retrieved on 19 October 2017.
- The Philosopher Chef
- "The name of Ottolenghi". Museum of The Jewish People. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
- Inamine, Elyse. "Yotam Ottolenghi Melds Food and Art at the Met," Food & Wine. Retrieved on 19 October 2017.
- Mishan, Ligaya (26 April 2011). "A Chef Who Is Vegetarian in Fame if Not in Fact," The New York Times. Retrieved on 19 October 2017.
- Kramer, Jane (3 December 2012). "The Philosopher Chef," The New Yorker. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
- Mann, Britt (18 June 2017). "The ever-growing empire of MasterChef Australia judge Yotam Ottolenghi," Stuff.co.nz (Australia). Retrieved on 19 October 2017.
- Jacobs, Alexandra (1 October 2015). "A Morning With the Star Chef Yotam Ottolenghi," The New York Times. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
- Ottolenghi, Yotam (3 August 2013). "Why I'm coming out as a gay father," The Guardian. Retrieved on 19 October 2017.
- Feeding Frenzy
- Jacques, Adam (5 October 2013). "How we met: Sami Tamimi & Yotam Ottolenghi," The Independent. Retrieved on 19 October 2017.
- Mesure, Susie (13 September 2014). "Yotam Ottolenghi Interview," The Independent. Retrieved on 19 October 2017.
- Coghlan, Adam (27 April 2018). "Yotam Ottolenghi Is Opening a Brand-New Restaurant," Eater London. Retrieved on 13 May 2018.
- Ottolenghi, Yotam (19 November 2015). "The best cookbooks of all time," Penguin.co.uk. Retrieved on 19 October 2017.
- Sifton, Sam (16 May 2016). "Revel in the Bounty of Spring, With a Feast From Yotam Ottolenghi," The New York Times. Retrieved on 19 October 2017.
- Sexton, David (9 October 2014). "How Yotam Ottolenghi rescued the modern dinner party," London Evening Standard. Retrieved on 19 October 2017.
- Muhlke, Christine (4 August 2014). "What Yotam Ottolenghi Cooks at Home (Yes, There Is Eggplant)," Bon Appétit. Retrieved on 20 October 2017.
- Enker, Debi (1 June 2017). "Yotam Ottolenghi doesn't like cooking competitions, so why is he on MasterChef?," The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved on 19 October 2017.
- Observer Food Monthly (15 August 2010)
- "Innovation & Design Awards 2011: the winners". Cntraveller.com. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
- Observer Food Monthly Awards 2011 Best Cookbook: Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi | Life and style. The Guardian, (18 September 2015). Retrieved on 2015-09-23.
- Restaurant and Bar Design Awards – Entry 2011/12. Web.archive.org (11 January 2013). Retrieved on 2015-09-23.
- 2013 JBF Award Winners, The James Beard Foundation. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
- The Guild of Food Writers – the professional association of food writers and broadcasters in the UK. Gfw.co.uk. Retrieved on 23 September 2015.
- "Guild of Food Writers Awards 2013 - The Winners". The Good Web Guide. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
- (in Spanish) Gourmand Awards Winners 2013 Cookbook. Cookbookfair.com. Retrieved on 23 September 2015.
- IACP35 Award Winners 2013 Archived 23 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine. iacp.com
- Fortnum & Mason Food & Drink Awards 2015. Fortnumandmasonawards.com. Retrieved on 23 September 2015.
- Guardian News & Media press release: Observer Food Monthly Awards announces winners for 2013 | GNM press office. The Guardian. Retrieved on 23 September 2015.
- "Mary Berry wins outstanding achievement book award". BBC News. 27 November 2014. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
- "Honorary Degree Recipients - Commencement 2015 - Brandeis University". Brandeis.edu. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
- "The 2016 Beard Award Winners!". Jamesbeard.org. Retrieved 4 August 2017.