Chef Avner Samuel left the land of Aurora, Nosh Euro Bistro and truffles for his homeland of Jerusalem. After two and a half years, he’s returned and ready to open his new restaurant, Nosh Bistro at 8611 Hillcrest, in late summer. He promises a 12-seat chef’s table, an outdoor patio and cooking classes for adults and children. Samuel was born in Jerusalem and lived in London, Paris, Hong Kong and the U.S. He moved to Dallas in 1981 and starred at restaurants, including the Mansion, the Crescent, Yellow, Avner’s, Okeanos, Bistro A and Aurora, which closed in 2010 and earned a five-star review from The Dallas Morning News. His last stint was at Mariposa at Neiman Marcus in Plano. He lives near NorthPark Center and has four children, ages 42 through 23. The youngest graduated from the Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas. “I always tell my children, ‘Just imagine if I was really educated how much further I could be in life.’ They say, ‘What are you talking about? You speak five languages. We speak one.’ All the education I have is culinary.”
How would you describe your new restaurant?
It’s a bit larger than my previous restaurant. We have a beautiful patio that I can use all year. It has a marble chef’s table where we serve our tasting menu and a cooking counter where I’ll cook. A walk-in wine room will feature about 150 types of wine — from America, South America, Europe, Spain, France and Israel. After lunch, I want some of the ladies to be able to sit and have champagne. If somebody does not have time for lunch, they can come later, sit on the patio and enjoy small plates. I’m excited about that patio, but I’m very excited about my cooking classes. Saturday lunch will feature cooking classes.
How will the food compare to your past restaurants?
The main staples have followed me since 1998 with Bistro A. A lot of people come by the restaurant and ask, “Will your mother’s salad be on the menu?” Yes, but with a twist. I spent the last two and a half years in Jerusalem and saw a mélange of techniques with spices from all over the world. My mother’s salad is made of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and green bell pepper with fresh squeezed lemon juice and a good extra virgin olive oil. I use salt, pepper and parsley.
What misconceptions do people have about your industry?
They think chefs are wild men. I think we are compassionate people. My generation is a little bit different than the new generation, and we are protective of what we do. I’m trying to find new ways to pass the torch. One way I’ve done that in the last 30 years is by holding my cooking classes. I want to inspire children to become chefs.