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At home as a woman in top gastronomy: world-class chef Haya Molcho shows how it’s done!

By: Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Haya Molcho embodies everything good food stands for: Enjoyment and taste, colors, art, warmth, joy, togetherness. Family. The job changer took the male world of gastronomy by storm and paved the way for a young generation of female chefs. KTCHNrebel met up with the lively chef for a chat.

Haya Molcho is all about family. In fact, her restaurant chain NENI is made up of the initials of her sons’ first names: Nuriel, Elior, Nadiv, Ilan. She creates cheerful and colorful Levant cuisine, which has literally been on everyone’s lips ever since she got started. Her love of Middle Eastern flavors is no coincidence: Haya Molcho comes from Tel Aviv. Her name is no mere coincidence: she is actually married to the world-famous mime Samy Molcho and traveled the world with him for many years.

Haya Molcho names her restaurant chain NENI after the first letters of her sons' names

Image: PatrickLangwallner

Levant cuisine inspires Europe

However, Haya Molcho never wanted to just be the wife of a star, so she always did her own thing. She studied the cuisines of the world with dedication. Cooking became her passion. What started as private entertaining among friends eventually led to her very own restaurant – with no professional training along the way. It was hard at the beginning, but the talented chef overcame every obstacle. Together with her sons, Haya Molcho now runs a steadily growing number of NENI restaurants, initially in her native Vienna and then also in major German cities as well as in Paris, Zurich, Amsterdam and Copenhagen. NENI has now even found a home on the island of Mallorca! As if this weren’t enough, the Israeli celebrity chef is also a welcome guest on major TV gastronomy programs such as “Kitchen impossible” and “The Taste,” writes inspiring cookbooks and brings selected NENI products into home kitchens with her chic gourmet food series.

Haya Molcho became a successful chef without any training and runs a restaurant chain

Image: Nuriel Molch

Haya Molcho’s versatile commitment also makes her a sought-after driving force in the business world. Recently, an international contract caterer recruited the famous chef to create an exclusive recipe series. Haya Molcho’s custom recipes are also a sought-after commodity in the cooking technology sector.

Apparently, the restaurateur also raised her four sons on the side. How did she manage it all? “We are a family business,” she says happily. “We share the work!” Indeed, her sons don’t just give their names to the NENI Group, they also provide vital support. Another aspect Haya Molcho finds very important: “We love doing what we do. And I think if you do what you love, you have a lot of energy!”

Haya Molcho runs the NENI restaurant chain with her four sons

Image: Nuriel Molcho

Female power versus macho behavior

This positivity is also what helped her assert herself as a woman in the still male-dominated world of professional kitchens. “The biggest challenge is the often biased upbringing that a lot of men have,” she believes. “This macho mindset!” But chefs couldn’t do anything about it. Luckily, this is now changing. “Young chefs have realized that women are also very valuable. I also raised my sons like that,” says Molcho. “I myself really enjoy working with women. They are usually more disciplined, they have perseverance, they can withstand more pain and have an eye for detail,” explains the successful restaurateur. And when someone makes a stupid remark? “Just stay cool! With humor, I make it clear I stand above such attitudes. I know what I’m worth!”

NENI serves oriental dishes

Image: Nuriel Molcho

Overcoming staff shortages with digitalization

Haya Molcho also values Rational’s digital cooking technology. She is particularly fond of autonomous slow cooking for overnight use. “You arrive early and the dish is ready,” she raves. This means you can use the combi-steamers around the clock and even overcome potential staff shortages. She also likes the extensive customer service. “They want you to be happy with the unit, and that’s the most important thing!”

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