Yotam Ottolenghi

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Yotam Ottolenghi
Yotam Ottolenghi.jpg
Born (1968-12-14) 14 December 1968 (age 47)
Nationality British, Israeli, Italian[citation needed]
Occupation Chef, writer
Known for Cookery
Website www.ottolenghi.co.uk

Yotam Assaf Ottolenghi (born 14 December 1968) is an Israeli-born British chef, recipe writer and restaurant owner.


Yotam Ottolenghi was born in Jerusalem and grew up in Jerusalem's Ramat Denya neighbourhood.[1] He has an older sister, Tirza Florentin and a late younger brother, Yiftach. He served in the IDF Army-intelligence headquarters. He studied at Tel Aviv University before completing a master's degree in comparative literature. At this time he also worked on the news desk of Haaretz, one of Israel's largest daily papers.[2] In 1997 he moved to the UK, planning to start a PhD but before he enrolled he signed up to train at Le Cordon Bleu cookery school in London for six months.[2] He got a job as head pastry chef at the London boutique bakery Baker & Spice and this is where he met Sami Tamimi[3] and Dan Lepard.[2] He is now a British citizen.

Style of cooking[edit]

Ottolenghi's cooking style is rooted in his Middle Eastern upbringing: "a distinctive mix of Middle Eastern flavours – Syrian, Turkish, Lebanese, Iranian, Israeli and Armenian – with a western twist". His "particular skill" is in marrying the food of his native Israel with a wider range of textures and flavours from the Mediterranean, Middle East and Asia. His palate of flavours is unapologetically bold and loud: "noisy".[4] Signature dishes include butternut squash salad with red onion, tahini and za'atar, roasted aubergine with turmeric yogurt and pomegranate seeds, chargrilled broccoli with chilli and fried garlic and meringues.

Academia and journalism[edit]

Before turning to food and cooking, Ottolenghi was active in both academia and journalism. He was a sub-editor on the news desk of Haaretz, Israel's oldest daily newspaper, and a student in Tel Aviv University. In 1997 he moved to Amsterdam with his then-partner Noam Bar. While in Amsterdam he completed his master's degree in philosophy and comparative literature; his thesis was on the ontological status of the photographic image in aesthetic and analytic philosophy. During his time there, Ottolenghi edited the Hebrew pages of a Dutch-Jewish weekly, NIW.[5]

Early cookery training and experience[edit]

Following a six-month course at the London-based French cookery school, Le Cordon Bleu, in 1997, Ottolenghi worked as a pastry chef at The Capital Restaurant, the Michelin-starred restaurant in Knightsbridge. From there he moved to work in the pastry section of the Kensington Place restaurant and that of the sister restaurant, Launceston Place, for a year, under the chef Rowley Leigh. He eventually became head pastry chef at Baker and Spice in Chelsea, London, where he met Sami Tamimi – co-founder of their delicatessens and restaurants and co-author of the Ottolenghi and Jerusalem cookery books – in 1999.

Ottolenghi delis and restaurant[edit]

Together with Noam Bar, Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi set up the first Ottolenghi deli in Notting Hill in 2002, selling both sweet and savoury food. Joined later by Swiss-born general manager Cornelia Staeubli, Ottolenghi often describes the success of the business as a team-based effort.[5] The food in Ottolenghi is known to be bold, exciting, sometimes challenging.[4] Three more delis opened: Islington (2004), Kensington (2005), which closed in 2013, and Belgravia (2007). A formal restaurant, NOPI (2011), followed and a further restaurant opened off Spitalfields market in London in 2014.

Design of the delis and restaurants[edit]

Behind the design of the delis and restaurants is architect Alex Meitlis[6] who, together with the Ottolenghi team has created a bold image: signature white tables and counters that provide a blank canvas for the colours of the food. The Soho restaurant NOPI has a different look with masses of marble and brass. NOPI was the winner of the Gourmet award at the Conde Naste Traveller 2011 Innovation and Design awards.[7] In 2012 the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards awarded NOPI as the winner of the best Identity category.[8]


Ottolenghi is known for emphasizing the use of vegetables at the same time as eating and loving meat. He defends the right to have an approach to cooking and eating that does not fit in with conventional distinctions and barriers: "You can be vegetarian and eat fish [...] there are no hard core divisions any more".[9] This remark led to controversy within the vegetarian community encouraging Ottolenghi to later recant via Twitter: "To all, fish eaters are NOT vegetarians".[10] Author of "The New Vegetarian" column in The Guardian magazine from 1996 to 2010, his weekly recipe contributions were, at first, exclusively vegetarian although, again, he courted controversy by mentioning where a particular dish would work well with a cut of meat or fish. Maintaining his position against the traditional distinctions and barriers between meat and vegetables – "I'm not burdened by rules, I don't think in terms of ideology"[11] – his relationship with vegetables is to "celebrate 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. Meat should be a celebration, not everyday. There is so much else out there".[12] The recipes in his column in The Guardian have been expanded to include meat since 2010. Plenty and Plenty More, Ottolenghi's sole-authored recipe collections, are entirely vegetarian. His two books co-authored with Sami Tamimi, Ottolenghi and Jerusalem, include meat and fish dishes.


As well as his weekly food column in the weekend Saturday edition of The Guardian, Ottolenghi has published four best-selling cookery books, which sold as of February 2014 over 2 million copies worldwide:

Ottolenghi, Yotam, Tamimi, Sami (1 May 2008). Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0-09-192234-4. A collection of both savoury and sweet recipes with 8 published editions.

Ottolenghi, Yotam (29 April 2010). Plenty. Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0-09-193368-5. A collection of over 100 original recipes and dishes first developed for the Guardian Weekend Magazine's "New Vegetarian" column. Winner of a Galaxy National Book Award 2010 .[citation needed]

Ottolenghi, Yotam; Tamimi, Sami (6 September 2012). Jerusalem.[13] Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0091943745 "about the food of their home town and the rich symbiosis of Arab and Jewish culinary traditions that survives in the markets and kitchens of an otherwise fractured city".[14] This has 11 published editions.

Plenty More (11 September 2014) Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0-09195-715-5 is, like Plenty, a collection of vegetarian recipes, including sweet and savoury dishes.

Television series[edit]

  • BBC4 documentary, Jerusalem on a Plate

Broadcast in December 2011, Ottolenghi met and cooked in Jerusalem with both Arabs and Jews in restaurants and at home, drawing on hundreds of years of tradition.[15]

  • More 4, Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Feast

Broadcast in November 2012, a culinary journey of discovery through Morocco, Istanbul, Tunisia and Israel.[16]

  • More 4, Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Island Feast

Broadcast in November 2013. Ottolenghi traveled to Corsica, Mallorca, Sardinia and Crete, exploring the flavours and secrets of these culinary jewels.[17]

Radio appearances[edit]

Co-judge of BBC Radio 4's Food and farming Awards 2016.[18]

Activism and politics[edit]

Ottolenghi's business partner, Sami Tamimi, was born and raised in the Palestinian Territories; Yotam Ottolenghi was born and raised in Israel. The link between food and politics is not one that is overly important to the two men, who didn't meet until they were both living and working in London, in 1999. They are, however, happy to be persuaded that the making and eating of hummus may help to forge links in the Middle East: "It takes a giant leap of faith, but we are happy to take it – what have we got to lose? – to imagine that hummus will eventually bring Jerusalemites together, if nothing else will".[12] The so-called 'hummus wars' – "the political and nationalistic discussions about hummus"[19] – are detailed by Ottolenghi in his cook book, Jerusalem.

Ottolenghi is a supporter of gay marriage[20] and parenting. In an article on coming out as a gay parent, he discussed how important he thinks it is for surrogacy to be an option more widely available to those who cannot conceive naturally.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Ottolenghi is gay. He and his husband, Karl Ottolenghi-Allen, live in London with their two sons.[22]


Published works[edit]

  • Ottolenghi, Yotam (1 May 2008). Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. UK: Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0-09-192234-4. 
    • Israel: Kinneret Publishing House (March 2010)
    • Germany: Dorling Kindersley (January 2012)
    • The Netherlands: Fontaine Uitgevers (February 2012)
    • Russia: Corpus Books (August 2012)
    • US: Crown (September 2013)
    • French Canada: Châtelaine (May 2014)
    • France: Hachette Pratique (October 2014)
  • Ottolenghi, Yotam (29 April 2010). Plenty. UK: Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0-09-193368-5. 
    • US: Chronicle (March 2011)
    • The Netherlands: Fontaine Uitgevers (February 2011)
    • Germany: Dorling Kindersley (March 2011)
    • Portugal: Civilizaçäo (June 2012)
    • Russia: Corpus (August 2012)
    • Spain: RBA Libros (September 2012)
    • Sweden: Tukan (September 2012)
    • Norway: Aschehoug (January 2013)
    • French Canada: Châtelaine (April 2013)
    • Denmark: Lindhardt og Ringhof (September 2013)
    • Romania: Grupa Media Litera (April 2014)
    • Italy: Bompiani (November 2014)
    • Czech Republic: Slovart (Autumn 2015)
    • France: Hachette Pratique (Autumn 2015)
    • Hungary: Gabo (Autumn 2015)
    • Poland: Wydawnictwo Filo (October 2015)
    • Croatia: Profil (TBC)
  • Ottolenghi, Yotam; Tamimi, Sami (6 September 2012). Jerusalem. UK: Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0091943745. 
    • Germany: Dorling Kindersley (January 2013)
    • The Netherlands: Fontane Uitgevers (February 2013)
    • France Hachette Pratique (October 2013)
    • Italy: Bompiani (November 2013)
    • Denmark: Lindhardt og Ringhof (Spring 2014)
    • Brazil: Companhia das Letras (Autumn 2014)
    • Russia: Azbooka Atticus (February 2016)
    • Spain: Salamandra (March 2016)
    • Poland: Wydawnictwo Filo (June 2016)
    • Hungary: Gabo Kiado (September 2016)
    • Czech Republic: Slovart (July 2017)
    • Taiwan: Emily Publishing Company (November 2017)
  • Ottolenghi, Yotam (11 September 2014). Plenty More. UK: Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0091957155. 
    • The Netherlands: Fontaine Uitgevers (September 2014)
    • Germany: DK Verlag (September 2014)
    • Denmark: Lindhardt og Ringhof (April 2015)
    • French Canada: Châtelaine (April 2015)
    • Sweden: Tukan (April 2015)
    • Brazil: Companhia das Letras (September 2015)
    • France: Hachette Pratique (Autumn 2015)
    • Portugal : Jacaranda (September 2015)
    • Spain: Salamandra (March/May 2016)
    • Korea: Green Cook (June 2016)
    • Italy: Bompiani (Autumn 2016)
    • Poland: Wydawnictwo Filo (Autumn 2016)
  • Ottolenghi, Yotam; Scully, Ramael (10 September 2015). Nopi. UK: Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0091957162. 
    • Germany: DK Verlag (April 2015)
    • Italy: Bompiani (April 2017)
    • Denmark: Lindhardt og Ringhof (May 2017)
    • The Netherlands: Fontaine Uitgevers (July 2017)
    • Spain: Salamandra (November 2017)
    • Hungary: Gabo (December 2017)


  1. ^ Bittman, Mark (1 December 2011) Yotam Ottolenghi's International Cuisine. New York Times
  2. ^ a b c [1]
  3. ^ Jacques, Adam (October 6, 2013). "How we met: Sami Tamimi & Yotam Ottolenghi". The Independent. Retrieved June 21, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Mishan Ligaya (26 April 2011) A Chef Who Is Vegetarian in Fame if Not in Fact. New York Times
  5. ^ a b The Philosopher's Chef. Newyorker.com (3 December 2012). Retrieved on 2015-09-23.
  6. ^ Alex Meitlis. Alex Meitlis. Retrieved on 23 September 2015.
  7. ^ London's Blooming Restaurants. Cntraveller.com (27 May 2011). Retrieved on 2015-09-23.
  8. ^ Archive winners list and images from 2011/12 | Restaurant & Bar Design Awards. Restaurantandbardesignawards.com. Retrieved on 23 September 2015.
  9. ^ Yotam Ottolenghi quoted in Chole Scott (29 March 2011) "Time for a fresh start" Metro newspaper
  10. ^ Yotam Ottolenghi quoted in Ligaya Mishan (27 April 2011) "Vegetarian in Fame if not in Fact", The New York Times
  11. ^ Yotam Ottolenghi, quoted in www.vegetarianliving.co.uk
  12. ^ a b Yotam Ottolenghi, quoted in Jane Kramer (3 December 2012) "The philosopher's chef", The New Yorker
  13. ^ "Food bridging Israeli, Palestinian divide". CNN. 28 November 2013. Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  14. ^ Jane Kramer (3 December 2012) "The philosopher's chef", The New Yorker
  15. ^ BBC Four – Jerusalem on a Plate. Bbc.co.uk (13 November 2012). Retrieved on 2015-09-23.
  16. ^ Ottolenghis Mediterranean Feast. channel4.com
  17. ^ Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Island Feast – Episode Guide. Channel 4. Retrieved on 23 September 2015.
  18. ^ <http://www.farminguk.com/news/Winners-announced-for-the-BBC-Food-and-Farming-Awards-2016_39596.html>
  19. ^ Ottolenghi, Yotam and Tamimi, Sami, Jerusalem (2012), pp112-113
  20. ^ Ottolenghi on Twitter: "RT @ivanwhite48: Jeffrey Archer against gay marriage. That makes us even, as I'm against convicted criminals in the House of Lords.". Twitter.com (17 November 2012). Retrieved on 2015-09-23.
  21. ^ Yotam Ottolenghi: why I'm coming out as a gay father | Life and style. The Guardian (13 March 2014). Retrieved on 2015-09-23.
  22. ^ Gay chef Yotam Ottolenghi's best creation? A baby boy Telegraph, Aug. 3, 2013
  23. ^ Observer Food Monthly (15 August 2010)
  24. ^ [2] Conde Nast Traveler, 2011
  25. ^ Observer Food Monthly Awards 2011 Best Cookbook: Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi | Life and style. The Guardian (18 September 2015). Retrieved on 2015-09-23.
  26. ^ Restaurant and Bar Design Awards – Entry 2011/12. Web.archive.org (11 January 2013). Retrieved on 2015-09-23.
  27. ^ 2013 JBF Award Winners, The James Beard Foundation. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  28. ^ The Guild of Food Writers – the professional association of food writers and broadcasters in the UK. Gfw.co.uk. Retrieved on 23 September 2015.
  29. ^ [3] Gfw.co.uk. Retrieved on 17 July 2016
  30. ^ (Spanish) Gourmand Awards Winners 2013 Cookbook. Cookbookfair.com. Retrieved on 23 September 2015.
  31. ^ IACP35 Award Winners 2013 Archived 23 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine.. iacp.com
  32. ^ Fortnum & Mason Food & Drink Awards 2015. Fortnumandmasonawards.com. Retrieved on 23 September 2015.
  33. ^ Guardian News & Media press release: Observer Food Monthly Awards announces winners for 2013 | GNM press office. The Guardian. Retrieved on 23 September 2015.
  34. ^ "Mary Berry wins outstanding achievement book award". BBC News. 27 November 2014. Retrieved 14 March 2015. 
  35. ^ [4] Brandeis University, retrieved 17 July 2016
  36. ^ [5], The James Beard Foundation. Retrieved 15 July 2016.

External links[edit]