My City Series | Yaniv Cohen
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Yaniv Cohen’s passion for food began at the age of 5, when he was put in charge of helping his mother cook and set the table. He grew up in Israel, but his mix of North African and Middle Eastern roots helped shape his eclectic and unique dishes. He was fascinated by the colours, scents, origins and properties of the spices used in his culture, using them to explore the endless possibilities of food presentation.
Through his exploration of culinary herbs and spices, Yaniv became fascinated with the medicinal properties of food, herbs and spices. His goal as “The Spice Detective” is to delve further into the world of culinary herbs and spices to develop his knowledge of food as medicine. His passion for food and culture led him to open JAFFA in the Miami Design District, in collaboration with St. Roch Market. In addition, Yaniv combines his passion for food and his love for Israel by leading culinary trips to explore the Land and all that Israeli cuisine has to offer.
1. Born and Raised or Expat?
Born and raised in Tel aviv Israel.
2. How did the idea of The Spice Detective come about?
I wanted to share my love for Middle Eastern cuisine , the spices and herbs from home, with the American public . Teach them how to cook with those spices and develop new palates.
Food is a huge passion of mine. My love of food began at an early age. As the oldest of 5 boys I was in charge of helping my mother cook and set the table. Growing up in Israel in a Sephardic Jewish family with North African and Middle Eastern roots, food was and still is an important part of our culture. It is a way of life. Every Shabbat and holiday had its unique set of incredible dishes. There was not a single dish that our family and friends served that was not beautifully seasoned. I was always fascinated with the colours, scents, origins, and properties of those spices.
My passion for food and hospitality propelled me to relocate to NYC and then Miami to open a branch of Shiraz Creative, an innovative Catering, Design and Production company. As the VP and Culinary Director, I head our Catering team. I am blessed to have this amazing outlet where I explore daily the possibilities of food and presentation to its fullest potential.
3. What are your fondest memories of The Spice Detective when you started your business?
As I continued to delve further into the world of the culinary herbs and spices and develop my knowledge, I became fascinated with the medicinal properties of food, herbs and spices. It is a known fact that throughout history many cultures around the world have used herbs, plants, and spices to treat different health conditions. Unfortunately, these days in the Western culture, not enough people realise the capabilities of these natural elements.
My goal as “The Spice Detective” is to introduce you to the incredible world of Middle Eastern spices and herbs: their flavours, aromas, properties and health benefits, and by doing so to help you incorporate those spices into everyday dishes that will delight all your senses.
In 2018, The Spice Detective collaborated with St. Roch Market, to open JAFFA, an outlet for his spice centered cuisine within the Miami Design District’s newest food hall. Bringing his native Middles Eastern cuisine to a new home, spice centric cuisine will delight Miami locals as well as visitors. Some highlights include a hummus bar, deconstructed baba ghanoush, and assorted grilled meats.
I love when people message me telling me how I changed their diet and how they now included spices they never even imagined will be part of their kitchen
4. On your Day-to-Day routine?
Coffee with cardamom to start the day, a workout and, cook an Israeli breakfast , eggs with turmeric, salad with sumac, and zaatar in olive oil are my go to. After that I head to Jaffa restaurant to cook with my team and serve our costumers a beautiful array of Middle Eastern delights. In the evening I unwind and cook at home with friends or my daughter Rachel.
5. Tell us some of your favourite spots in Miami,?
6. Where do you go to escape?
The beach, the volley ball court, or just hang at SoHo Beach house pool .
7. You can’t take a vacation, so you decide to have a staycation, what do you do, where do you eat, where do you stay and why?
All of the above, SoHo Beach House or The Standard Hotel.
8. What local brands do we have to know about?
Panther Café, the best coffee in town.
9. Where’s your next adventure?
A very special culinary trip to Israel, I’m taking a group of 15 guests to explore the culinary wonders of Israel from north to south and everything in between, it’s the best way to learn about a country and its many diverse cultures.
10. Does Travel breed creativity?
Always! I love exploring new spices herbs dishes colours ,cuisines, presentation exotic fruit and veggies. Meeting local chefs their creation and their restaurants, it’s priceless.
11. The ultimate dancing feet reliefs post liquid courage?
Fresh aloe-vera all over. Drink it, eat it wrap around tired feet or burned skin.
12. Where to shed those kilos, detox the body or protect the temple?
I believe in a regular exercise, it helps mind , body, soul in more ways than we realize.
13. Are there any philanthropic programmes or projects that you’re passionate about or would like to shed some light on?
Every year me and my volleyball team create special events to raise money for AIDS WALK MIAMI. The money we raise goes to help people living with HIV who might not have the means to buy medicine or event basic groceries.
14. Entrepreneurs, Tastemakers and Trailblazers, Where do people like you hangout in your city?
Design district, Iron side, little river and downtown Miami. New lounges and hang out place are opening every day and provide ground for brainstorming and chill out time.
15. Give a shout-out to someone in your city that is doing groundbreaking things, and what is it that makes them a trailblazer?
Elad Zvi at Bar lab, Miami`s best mixologist , ahead of the trend. Pushing the cocktails scene in Miami to new heights.
16. A locals-only, off-the-radar, black book spot?
The Anderson at Miami Upper east side neighbourhood .Locals only, and visitors in the know, best lounge /bar with the most delicious innovative cocktail .
17. What’s the next big thing when it comes to The Spice Detective in 2019?
My first cookbook is being released. Combining my passion for food and my love of Israel into a culinary trip to Israel with all of you is a dream come true! As we explore the Land and Israeli cuisine together it is my wish that it will leave footprints in our hearts as we leave our trail of footprints behind. It is my hope to nourish your brains and your bellies and have a lot of fun in the process!
18. Currently working on?
A culinary tour series and a new restaurant concept.
19. Advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Believe in yourself and take your time, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
20. We’re living in a world where our attention to new innovation doesn’t seem to have longevity, how do you find your inspiration to make new waves with long-term prosperity?
Quality quality quality. In everything we do.
21. Your ultimate playlist?
Taking it back to my roots!