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Yotam Ottolenghi

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Yotam Ottolenghi
יותם אוטולנגי
Yotam Assaf Ottolenghi

(1968-12-14) 14 December 1968 (age 55)
EducationTel Aviv University (Adi Lautman Interdisciplinary Programme for Outstanding Students)
Le Cordon Bleu
Karl Allen
(m. 2012)
Culinary career
Cooking styleMiddle Eastern
Current restaurant(s)
    • ROVI, Fitzrovia, London, England (2018–present)
    • Ottolenghi Spitalfields, Spitalfields, London, England (2015–present)
    • Ottolenghi Chelsea, Chelsea, London, England (2022–present)
    • NOPI, Soho London, England (2011–present)
    • Ottolenghi Islington, Islington, London, England (2007–present)
    • Ottolenghi Notting Hill, Notting Hill, London, England (2002–present)
    • Ottolenghi Marylebone, Marylebone, London, England (2021–present)
Previous restaurant(s)
    • Ottolenghi Kensington, Kensington, London, England (2005–2013)
    • Ottolenghi Belgravia, Belgravia, London, England (2012–2021)
Television show(s)
    • Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Island Feast (2013)
    • Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Feast (2012)
    • Jerusalem on a Plate (2011)
Award(s) won
    • James Beard Award – Cooking from a Professional Point of View
      2016 NOPI, the Cookbook
    • James Beard Award – International Cookbook
      2013 Jerusalem

Yotam Assaf Ottolenghi (born 14 December 1968) is an Israeli-born British chef, restaurateur, and food writer. Alongside Sami Tamimi, he is the co-owner of seven delis and restaurants in London and the author of several bestselling cookery books, including Ottolenghi: The Cookbook (2008), Plenty (2010), Jerusalem (2012) and Simple (2018).[1]


Yotam Ottolenghi was born to Jewish parents in Jerusalem and raised in its Ramat Denya suburb, the son of Michael Ottolenghi, a chemistry professor at Hebrew University and Ruth Ottolenghi, a high school principal.[2] He is of Italian Jewish and German Jewish descent and often spent his childhood summers in Italy.[3] He has an older sister, Tirza Florentin. His younger brother, Yiftach, was killed by friendly fire in 1992 during his military service.[4] Ottolenghi is an Italian name, an Italianised form of Ettlingen,[5] a town in Baden-Württemberg from which 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 was on the philosophy of the photographic image.[6] While working on his thesis, Ottolenghi served as a night copy editor for Haaretz.[7] In 1997, Ottolenghi and his then partner Noam Bar moved to Amsterdam, where he edited the Hebrew section of the Dutch-Jewish weekly NIW. He later relocated to London to study French pastry cooking at Le Cordon Bleu.

Ottolenghi met his partner Karl Allen in 2000; they married in 2012 and live in Camden, London, with their two sons, born in 2013 and 2015.[4][8][9] In 2013, Ottolenghi "came out as a gay father" in a Guardian essay that detailed the lengthy process of conceiving their first son via gestational surrogacy, an option that he believes should be more widely available to those who cannot conceive naturally.[10]

Culinary career[edit]

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 Palestinian chef Sami Tamimi, who grew up in Jerusalem's Old City.[11] Ottolenghi and Tamimi bonded over their shared language, Hebrew, and a joint "incomprehension of traditional English food".[12]

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 Middle Eastern ingredients such as rose water, za'atar, and pomegranate molasses.[7][8][13] When asked to explain his cooking philosophy Ottolenghi said "I want drama in the mouth."[7] The Ottolenghi brand has since expanded to three more delis (in Islington, Marylebone and Chelsea), a formal restaurant in Spitalfields, a brasserie named NOPI in Soho, and a vegetable-centric restaurant named ROVI which opened in Fitzrovia in June 2018.[14]

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,[15] Ottolenghi's recipes rarely fit within traditional dietary or cultural categories.[16] He explained that his mission is "celebrating 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."[4]

His debut cookery book Ottolenghi: The Cookbook was published in 2008. Eight volumes have followed: the all-vegetable cookery books Plenty (2010), Plenty More (2014) and Ottolenghi Flavour (2020); Jerusalem (2012); NOPI (2015); the dessert cookery book Sweet (2017); Ottolenghi Simple (2018); and most recently a series of Ottolenghi Test Kitchen (OTK) books: OTK: Shelf Love (2021) and OTK: Extra Good Things (2022). Ottolenghi's bestselling cookery books 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".[9] 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".[17][18]

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). He served as a guest judge on the ninth (2017), eleventh (2019) and thirteenth (2021) seasons 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."[19]

Published works[edit]

  • Ottolenghi: The Cookbook (2008) (with Sami Tamimi)
  • Plenty (2010)
  • Jerusalem: A Cookbook (2012) (with Sami Tamimi)
  • Plenty More (2014)
  • NOPI (2015) (with Ramael Scully & Tara Wigley)
  • Sweet: Desserts from London's Ottolenghi (2017) (with Helen Goh & Tara Wigley)
  • Ottolenghi Simple (2018) (with Tara Wigley & Esme Howarth)
  • Ottolenghi Flavour (2020) (with Ixta Belfrage & Tara Wigley)
  • Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love (2021) (with Noor Murad)
  • Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things (2022) (with Noor Murad)

Awards and recognition[edit]


  1. ^ "Yotam Ottolenghi: why I'm coming out as a gay father". the Guardian. 3 August 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  2. ^ Slater, Robert (31 January 2013). "Cooking Up a Storm in London". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  3. ^ Ottolenghi, Yotam (7 March 2017). "The Bright Magic of Citrus in the Baking Pan". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Kramer, Jane (3 December 2012). "The Philosopher Chef". The New Yorker. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  5. ^ ANU Museum of the Jewish People. "OTTOLENGHI Origin of surname". dbs.anumuseum.org.il. Retrieved 12 February 2024.
  6. ^ Inamine, Elyse (17 October 2017). "Yotam Ottolenghi Melds Food and Art at the Met". Food & Wine. Archived from the original on 20 October 2017. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  7. ^ a b c 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.
  8. ^ a b Mann, Britt (18 June 2017). "The ever-growing empire of MasterChef Australia judge Yotam Ottolenghi," Stuff.co.nz (Australia). Retrieved on 19 October 2017.
  9. ^ a b Jacobs, Alexandra (1 October 2015). "A Morning With the Star Chef Yotam Ottolenghi". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  10. ^ Ottolenghi, Yotam (3 August 2013). "Why I'm coming out as a gay father". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  11. ^ Feeding Frenzy
  12. ^ Jacques, Adam (5 October 2013). "How we met: Sami Tamimi & Yotam Ottolenghi," The Independent. Retrieved on 19 October 2017.
  13. ^ Mesure, Susie (13 September 2014). "Yotam Ottolenghi Interview," The Independent. Retrieved on 19 October 2017.
  14. ^ Coghlan, Adam (27 April 2018). "Yotam Ottolenghi Is Opening a Brand-New Restaurant," Eater London. Retrieved on 13 May 2018.
  15. ^ Ottolenghi, Yotam (19 November 2015). "The best cookbooks of all time," Penguin.co.uk. Retrieved on 19 October 2017.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Sexton, David (9 October 2014). "How Yotam Ottolenghi rescued the modern dinner party," London Evening Standard. Retrieved on 19 October 2017.
  18. ^ Muhlke, Christine (4 August 2014). "What Yotam Ottolenghi Cooks at Home (Yes, There Is Eggplant)," Bon Appétit. Retrieved on 20 October 2017.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ Observer Food Monthly (15 August 2010)
  21. ^ "Innovation & Design Awards 2011: the winners". Cntraveller.com. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  22. ^ Observer Food Monthly Awards 2011 Best Cookbook: Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi | Life and style. The Guardian, (18 September 2015). Retrieved on 2015-09-23.
  23. ^ Restaurant and Bar Design Awards – Entry 2011/12. Web.archive.org (11 January 2013). Retrieved on 2015-09-23.
  24. ^ 2013 JBF Award Winners, The James Beard Foundation. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  25. ^ The Guild of Food Writers – the professional association of food writers and broadcasters in the UK Archived 29 December 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Gfw.co.uk. Retrieved on 23 September 2015.
  26. ^ "Guild of Food Writers Awards 2013 - The Winners". The Good Web Guide. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  27. ^ (in Spanish) Gourmand Awards Winners 2013 Cookbook. Cookbookfair.com. Retrieved on 23 September 2015.
  28. ^ IACP35 Award Winners 2013 Archived 23 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine. iacp.com
  29. ^ Fortnum & Mason Food & Drink Awards 2015. Fortnumandmasonawards.com. Retrieved on 23 September 2015.
  30. ^ Guardian News & Media press release: Observer Food Monthly Awards announces winners for 2013 | GNM press office. The Guardian. Retrieved on 23 September 2015.
  31. ^ "Mary Berry wins outstanding achievement book award". BBC News. 27 November 2014. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  32. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients - Commencement 2015 - Brandeis University". Brandeis.edu. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  33. ^ "The 2016 Beard Award Winners!". Jamesbeard.org. Retrieved 4 August 2017.

External links[edit]