Chef Raz Rahav’s OCD Restaurant is not only one of the best restaurants in the Middle East and North Africa, but also one of the most sustainable ones. The 19-seat eatery in Tel Aviv offers a 19-course tasting menu that showcases the diversity and creativity of Mediterranean cuisine, while minimizing food waste and maximizing social impact.
A circular economy of food
OCD Restaurant opened in 2017, but it was in 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, that its seeds of sustainability were sown. To survive the lockdowns, Rahav started delivering the same pantry products that he used to make for his customers at the restaurant. Shortly after, he met chef Shalom Simcha, who had recently come back to Israel after studying slow food abroad. The ideas he brought to the table blew Rahav’s mind.
Together, the pair created Tenne, a centre of a circular economy that provides a second life to the waste generated by the restaurant, transforming it into new sauces for other eateries in the OCD group or for people to use at home. Tenne also sells other products such as bread, cheese, wine and coffee, all sourced from local and organic producers.
Tenne is not only a retail shop, but also a social enterprise that employs people from marginalized communities, such as refugees, asylum seekers and former prisoners. Rahav and Simcha believe that food can be a tool for social change and empowerment.
A theatrical experience of Mediterranean flavours
The menu at OCD is inspired by local culture, raw materials and seasonal ingredients. As in the theatre, staff take their positions, preparing to play their roles in the kitchen and choreograph the presentations of around 19 courses to the same number of lucky diners seated in front of them. A playlist featuring only Israeli singers and composers sets the tone for the evening, showing how at OCD, every detail is carefully thought out.
The dishes are a fusion of Mediterranean techniques with Jewish and Israeli culinary traditions. Rahav’s one-of-a-kind creations are truly inspired. On any given day, you might find Israeli sturgeon black caviar with cauliflower pancakes, or Askhenazi dumplings with kasha buckwheat puffs. Complementing many of the dishes are special homemade sides such as chickpea hummus miso, or a tangy olive oil marmalade.
It’s waste-not want-not at OCD. Rahav makes a concerted effort to avoid food waste, using extra cuts and ends of vegetables such as asparagus stalks, which are aged in sugar and served as a (perhaps surprising) dessert. He also recycles old flooring from the restaurant into dessert plates.
A visionary chef with a mission
Rahav has suffered from OCPD (Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder) since he was 14, but instead of causing him conflict, his condition has helped him lay the foundations of his restaurant, allowing him to have precision in every aspect. He is also driven by a passion for gastronomy and a vision for sustainability.
Rahav is not only one of the hottest names in the culinary world, but also one of the most influential ones. He has won several awards and recognitions for his work, such as being ranked No.14 in Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 and winning the Sustainable Restaurant Award 2023.
Driven by the heady success of his restaurant, Rahav has plans to expand beyond traditional fine dining – a Tel Avivian wine bar and a Jaffa-based bakery may soon be on the cards.