14th June 2012
Dr. Eli Landau, cardiologist, Lover of good life, Great cook and culinary expert, a Foodie in any respect, and a friend , passed away this evening, he was 63 year old. What a waste!
I was sitting with Shaul Evron, one of Eli’s best friends, at Yoezer, (a high-end Wine-Bar restaurant in Jaffa, Shaul’s restataurant), having my coffee after yet another satisfying wonder meal, when the phone rang… Shaul’s conversed abruptly with Haim Cohen (Eli’s partner in Jaffa Tel-Aviv Restaurant recently opened), you could see on Shaul’s face that something went terribly wrong he turned to Shlomit the Yoezer Restaurant manager & Sommelier, chief “nurse” (she looks after everyone at the restaurant young and old). “That’s it, Eli is gone”. They knew what was going on, but I got the situation all wrong! at first, I guess the sudden switch in atmosphere caught me by surprise.
Even though they knew that the “end” was imminent, a somber, heavy feeling filled the air. A sense of complete VOID fell upon, as if facing the abyss of death with total helplessness. Shlomit said from the bottom of her heart with great sadness: “No more Eli” It really encompassed everything, her grief, her loss her longing to a man who was one of Yoezer’s and Shaul Evron’s best friends. You always saw them together like the odd couple in any culinary event, or of course at Yoezer. They were soul mates in their attraction to wine and food.
Eli really knew his food, loved good wine and top end whiskey, an expert of Italian cuisine cooking and food products and most of the secrets and history of Italian food were an integral part of his being.
I guess on top of everything; His know how, the expertise He had good taste and a unique inner passion for food and cooking. My kind of GUY.
Eli Landau, was a food columnist for several Israeli newspapers, and food magazines, the author of three cookbooks: Mevashlim 1 & 2 (with Chef Haim Cohen), and the legendary pork recopies cookbook: “The White Book” a must book in every kitchen.
Eli and Haim Cohen met in the early 80’s when young Chef Cohen returned from Provance Cooking at Keren Restaurant in Tel-Aviv. Eli wrote a review in his column and they befriended at first a “friendship of mutual respect” and then after years of meetings and eating together established their 20 years of “friendship of love”. They started to cook together, wrote cookbooks together, had an internet portal “Mevashlim” (Cooking) http://www.mevashlim.com/Section/1515001.asp , plus numerous culinary tours of Europe (mainly in Italy and France). “We are one palate that separates into 2 stomachs” said Eli
Alon Gonen (chef owner El-Bario Restaurant summed it up very well: “He had the capacity to show us (young chefs) That the simple things are the most delicious makers of a good meal: A visit to the local market for fresh goods, Top class Butter on a fresh Baguette, fire red ripe and bursting tomatoes, Good Olive Oil, a bite on a nice sausage or cured meat and a good glass of wine”
Hilik Gurfinkel (a food and wine columnist, author of food books and ex “chef” at Yoezer in the old days, Just told me at the funeral, how Eli took literally took him by the hand and showed him the secrets of boning a Lamb “He was so efficient like a surgeon in the operating theatre, everything with a smile and patience of no end, a fatherly manner…”
Eli studied medicine near Parma where he tasted his first real prosciutto and other Italian food wonders of tradition. He returned an MD with a passion for food in general and deep knowledge of Italian food in particular. You could see the passion oozing when he was talking about food, always with a sound background of the various ingredients and their “place” in the dish. Even After visiting the best of the rest of European restaurants, he loved simplicity always with a smile and patience no end to onlookers and “groupies” (after he became a “TV celeb” with a wonderful series on Italian food shot in Italy mostly from the simple man and Jewish angle). On his Pork cookbook that created quite a stir he said: “basically it is a Kosher cookbook, if you swap pork with milk veal… I do not cook with milk or butter JUST OLIVE OIL!!!
So many people at the funeral (everyone who is someone in the Israeli culinary world was there), told me he was their mentor, teacher guide in the dark, culinary father/advisor, a high priest of local culinaria.
The roses gathered on top of the fresh grave, forming a blanket of love, appreciation and thanks to the man who was not only the best Chef amongst the Doctors and the best Doctor amongst the Chefs, but a milestone in the world of local Israeli cooks and food lovers. He will be greatly missed… but never forgotten.
As they say in Hebrew:
תהא נשמתו צרורה בצרור החיים – May his Soul be Bundled in the Bundle of Life
Someone said today: now there are only 2 doctors left amongst the foodies, Dr.Yehuda Abramovitch and me, I say Eli was the ONE, a guide to the culinary Galaxy we are both just hitchhikers enjoying the left over crumbs.
Love to Nadia and Adam
Amir – The wine guide