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With his New York restaurant, Shmoné, Israeli chef Eyal Shani earns his first Michelin nod

(New York Jewish Week) — Israeli celebrity chef Eyal Shani, who currently boasts 40 restaurants worldwide, became a sensation on these shores when he opened Miznon in 2018 at Chelsea Market. There, he introduced New Yorkers to a new style of Mediterranean street food that eclipsed the usual falafel, hummus and shawarma offerings. Locals and tourists alike lined up to devour Shani’s smashed potatoes, inventive pita creations and now-iconic whole roasted cauliflower heads.

Last May, Shani opened the latest addition to his NYC restaurant group: The aptly named Shmoné, which is located on West Eighth St. — “shmoné” is eight in Hebrew. The restaurant’s fresh approach — it features a new menu daily — landed Shani in the Michelin guide for the first time ever earlier this year, nominated for coveted star status. According to Michelin, “this small, sleek space punches way above its weight with dazzling Neo-Levantine cuisine.”

“I’m very, very happy for that, [but] I’m not focusing on getting Michelin stars,” Shani told the New York Jewish Week.

In fact, though he takes pride in all his restaurants — and voices enthusiasm for every culinary feat — Shani doesn’t believe Shmoné is “his most creative spot.” And yet, he said Shmoné is a very personal place to him, one of his most beloved restaurants. Ever the raconteur, he spoke about the energy that he puts into his food there and the harmony that results. “You need the magic,” he said. “I cannot explain it.”

As with all his restaurants, Shmoné has an open kitchen, which allows diners to observe the “food choreography,” as he called it. “I’m not cooking without a precise address,” he said. “I will cook for you when I see you. I am cooking for your eyes. If I cannot see you, I’m not cooking for you.”

Local sourcing and farm-fresh ingredients play a key role, too — something that Shani sees as very Israeli. “[Our ancestors] used to eat very pure, very close to the earth,” he said. “When you serve pure food to people it reminds them of something that’s exciting them.” The staff at Shmoné comb the Union Square Greenmarket for fresh produce, while their chicken is sourced from a small farm in Pennsylvania.

Shmoné’s menu is divided into categories by “creature” — though Shani utilizes an unconventionally broad definition of the word, including not only animal life but produce, breads and desserts. A “wheat creature” could be focaccia with sour cream; an “earth creature” could be tomato ovaries and green chili or a “stretchy stracciatella lasagna” served in a pyrex tray. Shani’s distinctive sense of humor is evident throughout the menu; for example, Shmoné previously served a dish called “I think I’ve managed to make a better mashed potato than [renowned French Chef Joel] Robuchon and it’s vegan.”

Like Shani’s other restaurants, Shmoné has an open kitchen and focuses on fresh produce. (Max Flatow)

Shani, 64, was born in Jerusalem and now lives in Tel Aviv. A self-trained chef who had studied cinematography, he cited a few inspirations for his career, though a major one was his vegan grandfather, who lived upstairs. Shani’s grandfather served him raw food, juices and salads and, in taking Shani to vineyards and markets, taught him to appreciate the purity of vegetables and fruit.

After his army service, Shani traveled for two years in Europe. But when a girl broke his heart, he returned to Israel and lived on a friend’s farm in the north. It was there that he decided to become a chef. “I lived there for a year like a priest — I ate from the fields and drank the water that I took from the ground,” he said. “One day, there were some hunters who were my friends and they came to bring me four porcupines. I lit the fire and ate [them], drank two bottles of wine and fell asleep in the middle of the field. I woke up in the morning and decided that all I wanted to do was cook.”

After painting houses for a while, Shani got a job in 1988 at Hotel HaSharon’s restaurant in the Herzylia Pituah neighborhood of Tel Aviv. He admitted he did not know how to cook but promised to work hard. Once he advanced to sous chef, the future restaurateur could be found racing to the parking lot to refer to the Julia Child cookbook he had tucked away in his car.

In 1989, Shani opened his first restaurant, Oceanus, in Jerusalem. A small, 24-seat space, it offered bouillabaisse, focaccia, fish and salad, and it was there that Shani began to really hone his skills. It closed after 11 years and was followed by Ocean in Tel Aviv, open for two years. Then, in 2008 he and his partner, Shahar Segal, opened the trendy, high-end HaSalon in Tel Aviv, serving up modern takes on Israeli cuisine with some Italian influences. This was the start of his restaurant empire in Israel; soon HaSalon was followed by the casual Miznon and seven others.

After he established himself solidly as a force in Israel, Shani expanded the Miznon chain to Paris in 2013, then Vienna in 2016, followed by Singapore, Melbourne and, eventually, New York, where Shani said he was seduced by the city’s exciting, vast and diverse food scene, calling it “the essence of American culture.”

At the same time, Shani said he feels challenged to upend New Yorkers’ culinary expectations. “When they are putting walls around me it’s seducing me, it’s seducing me to break them,” he said. “It’s my nature.”

From that first Miznon outpost at Chelsea Market, Shani expanded to eight restaurants across Manhattan, including a two-story Miznon North sit-down restaurant on the Upper West Side in 2019. (One Miznon branch has since closed.) That same year he opened HaSalon on Tenth Ave., where he serves dishes like “Hell’s Chicken” (a play on the neighborhood, Hell’s Kitchen), and a hand-rolled 12-foot pici pasta noodle, inspired by the notion that everything in New York is big and presented on a large scale.

Shani opened Naked Tomato, a skewer restaurant with generous salad accompaniments, in Hudson Yards during the pandemic. There, he became notorious for serving a single tomato on a plate for $24, inspired by a “perfect tomato” that he came across in an upstate New York greenhouse. “If a dish is a sentence, my culinary sentence is one word and that is the subject,” he said. “If I’m doing something with tomato, it will only be tomato: no sauces to warp it, cover it or mask it. You have to serve it completely naked. You are standing completely naked in front of your plate, in front of your audience.”

Shani explained that, with each new restaurant he opens, he visits each location and tries “to get some signals.”

“I can feel the environment, I see my team, I’m looking at the architecture, absorbing the atmosphere, the energy, the vibe of the place,” he told the New York Jewish Week. “It’s like a new ingredient coming to me and something inside myself assembling [assembles] them into the shape of a new restaurant.”

Shani says he immerses himself fully into the process of opening a new place. “I’m there and all the outer world disappears, all the noises are cut and I’m completely focused on one thing, and that is the only thing that exists in my life.”

And the new places keep coming: Since 2021, Shani has opened restaurants in Toronto, London, Miami and Boston, and, most recently, Dubai. Currently in the works are expansions to Amsterdam, Mexico City, Barcelona and Zurich, and two more New York eateries are also coming soon: a Miznon outpost uptown at 2895 Broadway, near Columbia University, as well as a “gastro bar” called Port Said, which is slated to open at 350 Hudson St. this summer.

“When you are establishing a restaurant you cannot change it anymore — it’s got its own character,” he said. “Because I’m changing all the time, I’m opening restaurants all the time.”

As for the recent Michelin nod, even though it was for a New York-based restaurant, Shani said it was “one of the most wonderful things that can happen for Israel,” as it will continue to enhance the country’s reputation as a culinary destination.

“Israeli cuisine started 70 years ago — it began without roots in any tradition,” he said. “Nothing is shaping them besides their ideas and imagination. Israelis are importing ideas and then shaping them in their own way, and that makes the cuisine so special.”

Shani is not shy about the impact he has made when it comes to introducing Israeli food to the world. “I’m the godfather of Israeli cuisine,” he said. “The main structure of Israeli food was built by me.”

Ultimately, no matter the price point or location of his various restaurants, Shani believes his food brings people joy. “I think it’s about giving happiness to people, he said. “That is my cuisine.”

The post With his New York restaurant, Shmoné, Israeli chef Eyal Shani earns his first Michelin nod appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Canada’s economic growth projected to be about 1% in the first half of 2024

Canada is a country with a thriving Jewish community and has traditionally offered the security of a strong economy for residents. The national economic outlook is naturally something that everyone in Canada’s Jewish community keeps track of – especially those involved in business in the various provinces.

With this in mind, the July 2023 Monetary Policy Report from the Bank of Canada made for interesting reading, projecting a moderate economic growth figure of around 1% for the first half of 2024. This is in line with growth figures that had been forecast for the second half of 2023, and sees the country’s economy remain on a stable footing.

Steady projected growth for first half of 2024

Although projected economic growth of around 1% in early 2024 is not as impressive as figures of around 3.4% in 2022 and 1.8% in 2023, it is certainly no cause for alarm. But what might be behind it?

Higher interest rates are one major factor to consider and have had a negative impact on household spending nationally. This has effectively seen people with less spending power and businesses in Canada generating less revenue as a result.

Interest rate rises have also hit business investments nationally, and less money is being channelled into this area to fuel Canada’s economic growth. When you also factor in how the weak foreign demand for Canadian goods and services has hit export growth lately, the projected GDP growth figure for early 2024 is understandable.

Growth in second half of 2024 expected

Although the above may make for interesting reading for early 2024, the Bank of Canada’s report does show that economic growth is expected to pick up in the second half of the year. This is projected to be due to the decreasing effect of high interest rates on the Canadian economy and a stronger foreign demand for the country’s exports.

Moving forward from this period, it is predicted that inflation will remain at around 3% as we head into 2025, and hit the Bank of Canada’s inflation target of 2% come the middle of 2025. All of this should help the country’s financial status remain stable and prove encouraging for business leaders in the Jewish community.

Canada’s economic growth mirrors iGaming’s rise

When you take a look at the previous growth figures Canada has seen and also consider the growth predicted for 2024 (especially in the second half of the year), it is clear that the country has a vibrant, thriving economy.

This economic growth is something that can be compared with iGaming’s recent rise as an industry around the country. In the same way as Canada has steadily built a strong economy over time, iGaming has transformed itself into a powerful, flourishing sector.

This becomes even clearer when you consider that Canadian iGaming has been a major contributor to the sustained growth seen in the country’s arts, entertainment and recreation industry, which rose by around 1.9% in Q2 of 2023. The healthy state of online casino play in Canada is also evidenced by how many customers the most popular casino platforms attract and how the user experience these operators offer has enabled iGaming in the country to take off.

This, of course, is also something that translates to the world stage, where global iGaming revenues in 2023 hit an estimated $95 billion. iGaming’s global market volume is also pegged to rise to around $130 billion by 2027. These kinds of figures represent a sharp jump for iGaming worldwide and show how the sector is on the ascent.

Future economic outlook for Canada in line with global expectations

When considering the Canadian economic outlook for 2024, it is often useful to look at how this compares with global financial predictions. In addition to the rude health of iGaming in Canada being reflected in global online casino gaming, the positive economic outlook for the country is also broadly in line with expectations for many global economies.

Global growth is also predicted to rise steadily in the second half of 2024 before becoming stronger in 2025. This should be driven by the weakening effects of high interest rates on worldwide economic prosperity. With rate cuts in Canada already expected after Feb 2024’s inflation report, this could happen in the near future.

The performance of the US economy is always of interest in Canada, as this is the country’s biggest trading partner. Positive US Q2 performances in 2023, powered by a strong labor market, good consumer spending levels and robust business investments, were therefore a cause for optimism. As a US economy that continues to grow is something that Canadian businesses welcome, this can only be a healthy sign.

Canada set for further growth in 2024

Local news around Canada can cover many topics but the economy is arguably one of the most popular. A projected GDP growth figure of around 1% for Canada’s economy shows that the financial state of the country is heading in the right direction. An improved financial outlook heading into the latter half of 2024/2025 would make for even better reading, and the national economy should become even stronger.

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The Legal Landscape of Online Gambling in Canada

Online gambling has grown in popularity around the globe in recent years. While many jurisdictions have legalized land-based gambling, it hasn’t applied to online platforms. Nonetheless, Canada is one nation that has legalized online gambling with their provinces’ licensing and regulating sites.

Nonetheless, Canadians of legal age can enjoy playing their favourite online games where available. So many games like slots, blackjack, and roulette still maintain their popularity even in the digital sense.  Want to learn about what’s legal in Canada for online gambling? Let’s take a look.

What is legal for online gambling in Canada?

What is the best online casino in Canada? The list we provide you here should be a good start. It’s also important to note that most Canadian provinces do not have laws that prohibit offshore online casinos.

Many provinces provide licensing to online casinos. They even regulate them as well. For example, Alberta and British Columbia have sites regulated by their respective governing bodies. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) allows legal online gambling and oversees the services it offers to Maritime provinces such as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

However, there are some caveats to address. In Newfoundland and Labrador, online gambling that is not offered by the ALC is considered illegal. Therefore, it is the only Canadian province as of 2024 that prohibits offshore options.

In terms of the legal age, there are three provinces where the legal age is 18: Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec. The remaining provinces establish 19 as the legal age for gambling including online.

Who are the regulatory bodies for gambling in Canada?

At the Federal level, the Canadian Gaming Association is the regulatory body for gambling in Canada. Thus, they cover both land-based and online gambling in the country. There are also provincial and regional regulatory bodies such as the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) – which covers the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador.  

The Western Canada Lottery Corporation covers Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon Territory. A handful of provinces also have their regulatory bodies covering lottery and gaming.

Canada requires online casinos that wish to accept players from the country to adhere to regulations and licensing. These licenses are provided by provincial regulatory bodies. When licensed, online casinos must follow the regulations and security standards.

However, there is the belief that many of the laws about gambling in Canada may be outdated. This could be because these laws were created long before the advent of the Internet. Therefore, such laws may need to be modernized. Nonetheless, online gambling for the most part is legal, just dependent on the province.

Are there any legal grey areas to discuss?

The grey area that is considered a concern pertains to the use of offshore sites. As mentioned earlier, Newfoundland and Labrador is believed to be the only province that prohibits it. Even online casinos with no licensing by Canadian or provincial authorities accept residents of the country.

On the players’ end, many Canadians are allowed to play at online casinos. However, they may be restricted from certain platforms. This is to ensure that the players themselves are protected from unknowingly playing on platforms that may be illegal. 

What are the other laws and regulations about online gambling in Canada?

Online casinos have implemented measures for responsible gambling. This includes providing support and resources to problem gamblers on their site. They are also restricted regarding the marketing and advertising aspects of promoting their platform. 

One restriction of note is that marketing that is targeted at minors is prohibited. Another prohibits professional athletes from appearing in online casino ads in Ontario.

Even offshore casinos must adhere to these laws and regulations. Especially if they have obtained a license from the provincial bodies that allow them to operate.

Canada’s online gambling is legal – but will things change

As it stands right now, the legality of online gambling in Canada seems to fall under the purview of provincial laws and regulations. Canadian citizens must perform their due diligence further to see which online casinos are allowed by their respective provinces. Just because it may be legal in one province, it may not be the same in others.

Nonetheless, the question is: will any laws relax certain restrictions? Will Newfoundland and Labrador change their tune regarding offshore casinos? It’s unclear what the future holds – but watch this space for any changes about online gambling in Canada.  

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Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.

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