Yotam Ottolenghi Takes on the Taco

The acclaimed Israeli chef and cookbook author puts his spin on the L.A. staple

Yotam Ottolenghi pretty much owns food right now. His eponymous restaurant and slew of delis in London couldn’t be hotter, his James Beard award-winning 2012 cookbook, Jerusalem, had every Midwestern housewife trying to find za’atar, and his new book, Plenty More (the sequel to 2011’s Plenty), redefined vegetarian cooking. But, does all this mean he knows anything about tacos?

We recently sat down with the Israeli-born chef to ask him about the rise of veganism as a Hollywood trend (he’s not really into it), the importance of authenticity in regional cooking (he’s sometimes into it), and his overall experience with L.A. food (he’s into it, but wants to try a lot more).

And, because we’re such damn fine reporters, we also asked him what an Ottolenghi taco would look like. “That’s a really good question,” he said, and sat back in his chair to ponder. After a minute or two, this was his answer:

Behold, the Ottolenghi Taco

  1. “Chicken thighs marinated in za’atar, crushed garlic, and lemon. I’d grill them, of course, and then add more zata’ar once they come off the grill.”
  2. “A little full fat yogurt.”
  3. “Some bitter leaves, like radicchio, red cabbage, and watercress, drizzled with vinegar and olive oil.”
  4. “A paste of tamarind, cilantro, mint, and green chile to spread on the tortilla.”
  5. “Oh, and maybe I’d throw a little eggplant in there.”

…Of course you would, Yotam. Of course you would.