The Red Obsession: The Story of the Tel Avivian Chef with Tomatoes

He compares them to women, photographs them incessantly, and expresses powerful emotion during and after his cooking. The relationship of the Tel Avivian chef Eyal Shani with tomatoes is completely different from what you would imagine. A peek into this strange phenomenon….  and even stranger Instagram account.

The Tel Avivian chef Eyal Shani is well known to lovers of Israeli food and cooking, due to a varied restaurant career, his position as a regular judge on the cooking show “Master Chef,” and his many outburst in the media. Shani is also a chef and culinary advisor to restaurants as well as a guest chef for private events. The Israeli community finds him entertaining and is sometimes surprised by his powerful emotions for one vegetable in particular.

Yes, you guessed correctly — it’s the tomato.

Shani is accustomed to express himself in an exaggerated militant tone when it comes to his feelings about tomatoes. In the past he has declared that “a tomato is like a woman.” When he visited a factory that produced tomato sauce and looked at the scattered tomatoes cut into pieces, he said “You look at the factory and see it like spilled blood, as if they didn’t have enough time to clean after all the killings with towels.” He expressed himself similarly when he also said: “There is nothing worse than the death of a tomato.”

Shani doesn’t just have a love and fondness for tomatoes, but more complex and difficult emotions as well as a result of the “wound” given to most popular vegetable during cooking.

Shani’s critics declare that his outbursts in the culinary field, with an emphasis on tomatoes, is a calculated exploitation of capitalism – to sell simple food at an exorbitant price. His supporters argue that he is a good man operating from a true love of food.

In addition to being the owner of different restaurants in Tel Aviv and Paris, Shani has a colorful and exciting Instagram account in which he photographs different foods and adds poetic captions. Of course, the most prominent objects are the tomatoes.

Without wasting more words, you can simply see for yourself what we’re talking about:

For example, Shani writes in his Instagram account for this photograph published in March of 2017:

tomato making a duck face
“Now, she’s pressed against a black wall – in an unprecedented sensual position — making a duck face and taking a selfie.” (source: @eyaltomato on Instagram)
Naked couple on the stones
“A naked couple on the stones.” (source: @eyaltomato on Instagram)
Both night and darkness are necessary, as well as an inner light of closeness, to truly see her as she is.
Both night and darkness are necessary, as well as an inner light of closeness, to truly see her as she is. (source: @eyaltomato on Instagram)
sliced tomatoes
“Naked Maggi tomatoes slaughtered in the box.” February 2016. (source: @eyaltomato on Instagram)
diced tomatoed
“I sacrificed you at the blade of my knife.” January 2016. (source: @eyaltomato on Instagram)
Eyal Shani
Eyal Shani (source: @eyaltomato on Instagram)

Some see the relationship between Eyal Shani and tomatoes an element of falsehood. But whether he painted a picture of himself as a man obsessed with tomatoes due to greed, or he’s actually obsessed with them – we definitely appreciate all of his hard work and dedication.

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