Hours and Location
Cafe + Deli
Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
For press, please contact
LIBRARY + CENTER
Who We Are
Asif is a non-profit organization and culinary center in Tel Aviv dedicated to cultivating and nurturing Israel’s diverse and creative food culture, a joint venture of the New York City-based Jewish Food Society and Tel Aviv’s Start-Up Nation Central.
Our aim is to explore local food culture and provide a home for research, dialogue, and a wide range of culinary experiences. Through a library with 1500+ culinary books, revolving exhibitions, cooking workshops, a rooftop farm, and pop-ups hosted by local and international chefs, Asif will help document and articulate the evolving Israeli kitchen. The center is open six days a week and everyone is welcome. Stop by for a meal anytime at Cafe Asif, or visit their local deli to pick up artisanal cheeses, olive oils, spices, and wine to enjoy at home.
At Asif, we believe that food is a central ingredient of culture and identity, both as individuals and communities. Beyond cooking, food enables us to learn about our histories, confront our conflicts, and engage in an open dialogue and difficult conversations.
Set out for a meal in Israel today and you may find bowls of Iraqi kubbeh soup tinged pink with beets or still-warm hummus alongside raw onion, sandwiches of matjes herring and butter or pitas stuffed with schnitzel and pickles, lightly cured fish in verdant olive oil with Mandarin zest, and trays of glazed rugelach. This nascent kitchen is influenced by regional Levantine and local Palestinian traditions, recipes from across the Jewish Diaspora, and a unique terroir. It has deep ties to the diverse histories and traditions that make up the Israeli population, but feels fresh and modern in the hands of home cooks and creative chefs.
Food does not stand alone. Exploring how it relates to history, culture, politics, ecology, fashion, technology, and gender is what guides Asif as a culinary center that encourages innovation.
A Note on Language: The Asif website is currently available in Hebrew and English. Some content is also available in Arabic and we are working to add more. Please check back for updates soon.
Press: Please send press inquiries to [email protected]
Naama Shefi is a kibbutznik and New Yorker, whose work sits at the intersection of food, culture, community building, and art. In 2017, she founded the Jewish Food Society, which preserves and celebrates Jewish culinary heritage through a digital recipe archive and dynamic events. Previously, she curated programs promoting Israeli and Jewish culinary culture through the hit pop-up The Kubbeh Project and the Israeli Consulate in New York. Naama also immersed herself in start-up culture as the marketing director of EatWith, which hosts pop-ups in 160 cities. Food, she believes, is one of the most profound ways to build community.
“My first bite after touching down in Israel is usually herring. It could be on a fresh baguette at Sherry Herring, or a quick stop before Shabbat at Dorfman at the Carmel Market. In the market, I always make sure to visit Elad for “hetzi manah” or a half portion of falafel. In the evening I head to Abie — a restaurant that personifies what Israeli food can be in 2021.”
From his home in New York City, Mitchell Davis has been an internationally recognized thought leader on food trends and culture for more than 30 years, most recently as Chief Strategy Officer of the James Beard Foundation and as the founder of the Kitchen Sense consultancy. With a degree in Hospitality Management from Cornell and a Ph.D. in Food Studies from New York University, Mitchell has helped create programs to improve restaurant culture, culinary education, accessibility, and sustainability. He is an avid cook who has written five cookbooks. Follow his work on social media @KitchenSense. (Photo: Clay Williams)
“From a late-night pita at Jasmino that drips flavorful juices onto Allenby Street as you bite into it, to the artfully arranged plates of local seafood at Pescado in Ashdod, I can’t get enough of the freshness, generosity, warmth, and sheer deliciousness of Israel’s food scene.”
Born and raised in Eilat to a Tunisian family, Matan Choufan is a culinary expert and journalist based in Givatayim. He previously worked as the deputy editor at Israel’s premier culinary magazine, HaShulchan and as a regular contributor to Haaretz’s weekend magazine. He is a graduate of Tel Aviv University and the Danon Culinary School. Find his writing, recipes, and food photography on his website and Instagram account.
Ronit was born and raised on Moshav Be’er Tovi as a fourth generation farmer, and returned to live there after starting her own family. Although she graduated with honors in film studies from Tel Aviv University, she realized very quickly that food interests her more. After living in Peru for a stint and learning the secrets of the local cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu in Lima, she returned to Israel and worked as a culinary editor, food writer, and recipe developer for Walla.
“”Sometimes all you need for a good bite are quality, local ingredients, and they are abundant in Israel. I usually like to order vegetables from Havivian, buy goat cheeses from Shmueli Farm just down the road from my house, bread from Pinat Habiluim in Gedera, and fresh fish from Patrick Zano in Ashdod. When I want to eat something special, I go to George & John by chef Tomer Tal.”
Food writer and culinary curator Michal Levit was born and raised in Tel Aviv in a Latvian-Ukrainian home. She graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy where she also founded a business for gastronomic tours following artisanal producers. In 2011, she opened Ha’Meorav, a small street food spot from the team behind HaBasta. Her writing has appeared in HaShulchan, Mako, Time Out Tel Aviv, and As Promised. Her articles discussing representations of wild herbs in the Hebrew press, which were published subsequent to her university thesis, appeared in Hebrew, English, and German. Check out her 2018 YouTube series Michal-Love It, which explores the best of Israeli food.
“My second home, or even my first, is HaBasta restaurant in Tel Aviv. When I need a good pita I go to Jasmino. When I’m up north, I cannot miss the family bakery Al-Mashdawi in Nazareth and Rutenberg restaurant, located right on the border with Jordan.”
Born and raised in the Arab village of Kfar Qara in the Triangle region, Muzna is a practicing dentist, but her love of cooking and history led her to change directions and start researching the roots of the Palestinian kitchen. She teaches workshops and offers lectures that share traditional recipes and the stories behind them. She co-founded Sir Lasalam (A Pot for Peace) an Arab-Jewish coexistence project along with Dafi Kremer. Muzna was also a contestant on the popular TV show ‘MasterChef.’
“Nazareth my favorite local city for food. At El Meshhdawi bakery, I always order the chicory and labneh sandwich and I make sure to stop at Abu Ashraf’s amazing restaurant for atayef. For a fancy dinner, I love Magdalena by Zozo Hanna and Luna Bistro. Both serve traditional local Arab dishes in a modern and sophisticated way.”
Devra Ferst is a food writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. A former editor at Eater and Tasting Table, her food and travel reporting has also appeared in the New York Times, Vogue, Food & Wine, NPR, and numerous other publications. She is currently the editor of the Jewish Food Society, which preserves and celebrates Jewish family recipes from around the world. When she’s not writing (and it’s safe to travel again), you can find her exploring produce markets from Odessa to Bangkok.
“Whenever I visit Israel, I head straight for cheese-filled bourekas at Bourekas Levinsky, a gazoz at Cafe Levinsky 41 and a year’s worth of za’atar from Habshush in Tel Aviv and Elbabour in Nazareth.”
Shay Li grew up in Binyamina running barefoot among pecan and pear trees. For her, moving to Tel Aviv was a breathtaking experience. While training as an actress at Yoram Loewenstein Studio, she visited every restaurant possible. Over the past decade, she’s combined a career in acting with one as an event manager. Today, she’s bringing together that experience with her passion for food at Asif.