Meet Our Team
Executive Chef Shay Lavi
Shay Lavi always has thrived on multi-tasking. Before he decided to follow his passion to cook for a living, he owned three separate businesses: a toy store, a media company and a firm that matched startups with investors.
When he ran the now-shuttered Rozina Bakehouse and & Coffee downtown, he supervised a kitchen that served breakfast and lunch while producing an ambitious menu of sweet and savory baked goods. Since parting ways with Rozina about a year and half ago, Lavi has immersed himself once again in a variety of projects.
His Let’s Eat catering company stages one-of-a-kind events and offers chef-prepared meals to eat at home. Let’s Eat also has spawned a side business that makes hummus and pita for commercial clients. Lavi has been working with photographer Sharif Hassan on shots for a potential cookbook. And, just recently, he became executive chef of Nur Kitchen.
For the first time since exiting Rozina, Lavi, who was influenced profoundly by his family matriarchs, has a public venue for showing what he can do.
When it came to writing the menu for Nur, Lavi didn’t have to start from scratch. At his disposal was a repository of dishes he learned from his Turkish mother and his Libyan grandmother. “It’s a part of me,” Lavi said of his list of simple appetizers, salads, sandwiches, hummus plates, and meat and seafood entrees. The pita is baked on-site in a brick oven.
Lavi’s fried mussel sandwich is his interpretation of a snack he used to enjoy on the Turkish island of Buyukada: fried mollusks threaded on a skewer and paired with a garlic-almond sauce (skordalia). “That’s Turkey in summer,” he said. “I just turned it into a sandwich.”
His whole fried mullet mirrors the fare found at Jaffa Port, a seaside town adjacent to Lavi’s hometown of Tel Aviv. His breaded and fried chicken schnitzel, served as an entree with rice and a chopped salad, or tucked into a pita with hummus and tahini, is the kind of everyday diner food you can find all over Israel, where it is beloved, especially by kids.
Lavi left Israel in 2015, when his American-born wife, Karen, became pregnant with their first child, Gabriel. “I decided I would like to give my kids different opportunities than I had,” he said. “I want them to be raised and grow without any labels, being sweet and knowing people.”