Our autumn is short and unstable. Between dry heat waves and scattered showers, it is definitely a wonderful period to enjoy in the garden and veranda. To enthuse about the recovering vegetation, to take a deep breath of air full of the aromas of fresh land, and to dare and flirt with open and colorful fire.
For me there is one outdoors priestess, watching her juggling around the fire, creating an atmosphere, a wonderful experience and flavors, which always fills me with inspiration.
In my opinion simplicity is the highest level of sophistication, and Michal Koren’s ability to refine in all her handiwork what is really good and ignore background noise, is a captivating quality. Her beautiful yard contains and reflects this natural attitude to scenery and her great love of hosting. She makes magic and creates tastes with conquering nonchalance, and in the outdoor kitchens that she creates with Avihai, there is, in my opinion, a real message. The combination between functional materials and her rare expertise in outdoor cooking, and the grace with which she teaches her clients, provides them the opportunity to enrich their lives outside of their four walls.
my outdoors kitchen
In autumn afternoons, that are more hot than cold, we cooked a wonderful meal together under her energetic guidance. When she hovered over grilling, kneading, and pouring another glass of wine, I asked her to talk a little about the worlds of inspiration and content in her works:
The way – My wish to combine different areas of interest and the need to endow people around me with happiness, are the things that always lead me to the path of creativity and activity in my professional life. My yearning for agricultural spaciousness and wild landscape, together with the great enjoyment of life outdoors, and my love of aesthetics brought me to study landscape gardening. But thanks to my love of hosting and cooking and occupying myself with them since childhood, in the beginning of the 90’s a pioneering project of a ceramics gallery and a restaurant was created in the agricultural area of the Hes village called “a jug of coffee” and I found the way to combine all my greatest loves.
This journey continued to the establishment of “festivity in the village” which was a house that hosted events of a special style and character that derived from the strong connection between the geographical landscape and the culinary language that typify the Mediterranean basin. It involved choosing the raw materials, cooking techniques and portions that reflected the connection to the place. A significant player in this was Hanoch Parver R.I.P, to him I owe the reinforcement of my culinary identity.
My credo – After two decades I looked for a way to provide accessibility for everyone to the outside hosting experience, in the private space of each person. To create the foundation for the magical happening latent in the meeting between landscape, people, cooking and hosting, each in their own abode.
My occupation – In this way I reached a Dutch designer, Piet Jan Van den Kommer, the person behind the brand of outdoor kitchens. WWOO Piet took the line element in the garden, whose task is to delineate, fence, separate and define, and he turned it into a playground that is used for doing and creating functionality under the definition of “outdoor kitchen.” His kitchens are built as concrete, modular, elements in a variety of sizes and a very high level of finish. They include cooking facilities, accessories and lighting.
I felt that I had found the perfect object that enables creating a space that will give personal expression to the need of each person to enjoy the experiential and creative routine of cooking and outdoor hosting. When Piet accepted my request to be his representative in Israel, I was very happy. The introduction of casting methods and knowledge of WWOO to Israel opened before us the widening of the circle of common family activity. Avihai, my husband, established our casting house and became the local manufacturer of the elements from which the kitchens are composed and which we transport and install in the client’s house.
The source of our inspiration derives from the desire to cultivate and impart knowledge – we accompany our clients from the beginning of the kitchen design until after its installation, also with instructions to assimilate it in the daily routine. We teach techniques for lighting a fire and exploit the sources of heat in vessels for preparing high quality, choice food. We plan outdoor work processes, and offer, from burning materials to cooking and serving utensils that suit storing and outdoor work, the achievement of complete hosting that is entirely fun.
For me the Mediterranean way of life is first and foremost an opportunity to enjoy nine months of air-conditioned and comfortable weather. There is the possibility to extend our living space outwards, whether it be a veranda, roof, small garden or big yard. By investing thought and creativity we discover that our outdoor Mediterranean creates an atmosphere of vacation and forgoes routine, which is waiting for us just around the corner.
For our autumnal meal we prepare the following:
Although we have a short autumn, one of our indulgences is the first winter vegetables that you can find in the markets – they are small with intense flavors. Beetroots, turnips, fennel, marrows and eggplants that react wonderfully to being treated by an open, warm fire. With a little bit of olive oil from the first olive harvest, and Atlantic salt that emphasize their wonderful flavor, we prepared a choice of them as a basis for aromatic pizzas that were baked in the outdoor stove, and for desert a Galette (tart) of autumn fruits.
And so it came out of the outdoor oven, warm, aromatic and popping, and so, so tasty!
On this wonderful afternoon we celebrated together autumn with its multifold colors and flavors, the friendship and joy of creating together, and the pleasure we derive from small happy things that are so available and await you at the threshold of your home.
If you wish to change your garden or private veranda to an additional outdoor space, I recommend trying and becoming well acquainted with the link MY OUTDOORS, the outdoor kitchen brand of Michal and Avihai.
To get a closer impression and taste the work of Michal’s hands, you can do so at one of the “grocery list” events that she hosts in her yard.
A big thanks to Yifat Galon who filmed these moments.
The interview and recipes from the chapter on autumn are found in my book “Mediterranean Living.”