Yuval Fachler is a young chef with profound talent and spotless credentials. Born in California and brought up in Tel Aviv, he studied at the Culinary Institute of America, and from there traveled widely, seeking out the best chefs and kitchens to learn from—in California, Italy, and London. He wound up, at the age of thirty-two, cooking at Tel Aviv’s beautiful Herbert Samuel restaurant.
A spry young man with a slightly cragged face and a workaholic’s touch of premature gray in his hair, Yuval has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants, kitchens and homes outside of Israel. He recounts one very important lesson learned from a home cook in Italy:
The sous chef at the restaurant where I was working in Italy used to invite me to his wife’s house for big family dinners in the garden, under a huge gazebo. The old father of the family would carve up the roast duck—a duck that they had raised themselves, of course. There was a big oven outside, so huge that you needed two people to take out the lasagna. And after the dinner, the mamma would go into the fields to pick some fava beans—I guess as a kind of digestif. Straight from the fields. It was just unreal: too beautiful, too pure!
Like many contemporary chefs, in Israel as in the rest of the world, Yuval is very conscious of using local ingredients—which are fresher, healthier, better for the local economy—and most important, tastier. (Learn more in Eat, Sleep, Play.)
Today, Yuval has branched out on his own and is developing a model that is startlingly new—and at the same time age-old; it is called Salva Vida. “I’m not interested in just creating a restaurant,” Yuval says. “The idea is to create an experience that—even besides the food—customers will seek out again and again.” At Salva Vida, the menu is based as much as possible on foods produced, not just locally, but at the very spot where you are eating.
The wonderful culinary sophistication of a chef’s restaurant—complete with the finest wines—in combination with the deep and primal joy of eating food plucked from the earth just minutes ago. World-class stars of cuisine, meet the brilliant Italian mamma gathering fava beans (as her mother did, and her mother’s mother, on back forever). Innovation, meet tradition—shake hands, you’re going to love each other.
Photos by Yael Rivnay, courtesy Yuval Fachler