Cooking Sabra-Style in Brooklyn

Israeli native Einat Admony, 44, is a chef and restaurateur, who with her husband Stefan Nafziger, 39, owns and manages some of New York City’s most popular eateries. Their three restaurants, Balaboosta, Taïm and Bar Bolonat offer contemporary Israeli food that has earned them some accolades along the way. Admony and Nafziger have been living together since 2002 and currently reside in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, along with their two children, Liam, 8, and Mika, 6.

FORWARD: How did you meet and come to live together?

EINAT: The day we met, something in the universe changed. The day we met was the first time I believed in the existence of a past life. But the day we met, I was on my way to get married to someone else. A year later, after a separation from my husband, I visited New York again and saw Stef. We fell in love in a second, and after three days we decided to live together and get married and have kids.

How did you find your home?

EINAT: New York is a difficult place for real estate. We had two criteria in our home — that it had space and that it was in Fort Greene. We looked at more than a dozen apartments until we found this one, and it’s perfect — a big two-bedroom loft in Fort Greene.

Who takes out the garbage?

EINAT: Stef

How are household chores divided among you?

EINAT: I cook, and Stef does everything else.

Who makes breakfast?

EINAT: We don’t really cook breakfast during the week, but I make brunch on Saturdays.

Describe your typical week.

EINAT: Weekdays we get the kids ready in the morning — breakfast, teeth, dressed, snack and bus. Stef is lazy, but I’m usually going to the gym and boxing. After that we spend the day bouncing between our restaurants — Balaboosta, Taïm, Bar Bolonat. Every week is different, though, depending on what happens at the restaurants. But every Friday is Shabbat dinner with tons of guests. Saturday we have a family ritual of going to the farmers market in Fort Greene, while Sunday is always some sort of activity for the kids.

What’s the most unusual thing we’d see on your household budget?

EINAT: Our very nice foosball table.

What do you love the most about the space you live in?

EINAT: I love my space — the open area, the décor, a nice kitchen. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

What’s the one story that gets told and retold in your home?

EINAT: Stefan’s [and my] love story.

Who was first to get up when a child started crying?

EINAT: Stefan.

What would you serve at your ideal Sunday brunch?

EINAT: It depends on who’s coming and what I feel like cooking. I really like Yemenite brunch, with kubaneh [Yemenite bread] and brown eggs, but I would also add an interesting mimosa and tons of salads and vegetables to balance out all the heavy Yemenite dishes.

Do you have an ideal Sabbath dinner?

EINAT: Challah, fish, chicken, beef, Persian rice, and tons and tons and tons of salad.

Who’s your favorite Jewish comedian?

EINAT: Joel Chasnoff.

Have you have ever experienced anti-Semitism?

EINAT: Two nice Palestinian students came into Balaboosta one day, but the moment they learned the restaurant was owned by an Israeli, they left. But not much anti-Semitism in New York.

What is your favorite room in your home?

EINAT: Bedroom.

What is your favorite piece of art or photograph in your home?

EINAT: There is one piece by Stefan’s sister. She is an abstract artist in Paris. There’s also an old Roberto Ramiro piece we have that is called “The Hug.” It’s a big piece, bright with bold colors, and it’s a great welcoming piece.

What is your happiest or saddest memory in your home?

EINAT: I don’t know if it’s the happiest, but when I got the first printed copy of my cookbook, Balaboosta, at home. I had tears in my eyes.

Describe your home life in three words.

EINAT: Love. Food. Happy.

If you could change one thing about where you live, what would it be?

EINAT: I would move my apartment and put it on the beach. But more ideally, I would love more outdoor space.

If you could change one thing about your Jewish practice, what would it be?

EINAT: I would light a candle on Friday night more often.

Is there an active Jewish community near you? If not, how do you create your own?

EINAT: Yes, Chabad Center. We are very much involved and helping. My children also go to a Hebrew school.

What’s one thing you do that defines your Jewish identity?

EINAT: Mezuza in every room. Shabbat dinner religiously.

Does being Jewish distinguish you from others around you? If so, how?

EINAT: It’s a great part of my identity, but I don’t feel different and distinguished from others around me. I have a mixed culture.

What one moment stands out in your mind of when you felt most connected to Judaism?

EINAT: At my son’s birth.

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