Tuesday, November 1, 2016



Yael Shochat with David Cohen

01 November 2016
Random House NZ
RRP $55.00

Ima Cuisine draws on the wonderful recipes from Yael Shochat’s family kitchen, both at her restaurant Ima and at home.

Celebrated Auckland personality and restaurateur Yael Shochat grew up in the Israeli portside city of Haifa, eating fresh local market foods at home and at the local Arabic and Jewish restaurants. When Yael came to New Zealand in the late 1990s the Israeli food she loved was very hard to find. Yael missed the food from Israel so much so that she opened the Lunch Box in downtown Auckland, in which to serve the food she craved. This eventually morphed into Ima, a popular restaurant and deli/cafe in Fort Street, central Auckland.

Ima (pronounced eema) means mother in Hebrew. It sums up Yael’s approach to cooking and food and her generosity.  Her food is fresh, honest, healthy and nurturing, and the restaurant atmosphere is warm and casual. When you go to Ima it is like entering Yael’s house, guests feel immediately comfortable and at home.
Yael orginally trained as a chemist and was attending Oxford University in the UK working on her PHD when she met her husband, Andy. Cooking for Yael is something she’s always loved but only started doing as a job later in life, after she moved to NZ with her young family and husband.

Explains Yael, ‘Cooking has always been the focus of my life. My introduction to the kitchen, like a lot of other kids, was helping my mum make cakes and getting to lick the bowl. Then I started cooking in my early teens, and have felt at home in the kitchen ever since.
When I left Israel to study in the UK, it really dawned on me just how important good food is — how great food can lift your spirit and make you happy, and is central to not only special celebrations but your everyday rituals and home life.’

Yael’s food is a vibrant and distinctive combination of Mediterranean, North African, European, and Middle Eastern.
Ima Cuisine includes an introduction by Wellington-based journalist David Cohen as well as descriptions from Yael of the much-beloved recipes and notes on food and culture. The book is broken into breakfast, including Latkes, Blintzes and Shakshuka; coffee and pastry with Bourekas, Sfogliatelle and Fatayer; salads bursting with colour; hearty soups; sandwiches; mazetim nibbles; delicious mains such as Chraime, Brik, and Yael’s mother’s favourite chicken; and finally cakes, biscuits, drinks and sweets with filo cigars, Ma’amoul and Basbousa.

Beautifully photographed by Callum Thomas, Ima Cuisine is shot in the restaurant in and around the normal service — sometimes with someone eating lunch at the next table — and the colour and vibrancy of the photographs reflect the life and vibrancy of the restaurant. Part of the Ima family, Callum first started at Ima as a dishwasher in 2011 and has gone on to become a photographer and filmmaker, while still working in the restaurant.
Ima Cuisine — the restaurant and now the book —  are a little piece of Israel in New Zealand and Yael’s way of sharing her homeland. She hopes that some of her favourite dishes will become your home favourites too.

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