Sami Tamimi : ground-breaking and modern Middle Eastern Chef
- One of Ottolenghi co-founders since 2002
- Self-taught Palestinian chef with 35 years of experience
- International Book Award from the James Beard Foundation in 2013
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Sami Tamimi is a self-taught Palestinian chef, restaurateur and food writer based between London and Umbria in Italy.
Sami Tamimi grew up in the old city of Jerusalem, before leaving on a journey of self-discovery, first to Tel Aviv and then London.
With over 35 years of experience, Sami’s fascination with food, that later turned into an obsession, began at an early age in his mum’s kitchen.
His cooking career began at 17 working as a porter at Mount Zion Hotel in Jerusalem where he quickly became a chef in charge of breakfast in the hotel. From there he went on to work in different restaurants, cafes and even a hospital kitchen to gain experience and learn as much as possible about food.
At 21 Sami Tamimi moved to Tel Aviv where he set up a small catering business and continued to work in restaurants leading to a position at Lilith, one of the most renowned restaurants in Israel at the time. Working his way up, he became head chef at Lilith where he spent five years working with Karen Handler-Kremmerman, whom he considers his mentor.
1997 marked a move to London where Sami was running the savoury kitchen at Baker & Spice. At this food and bakery shop in Chelsea, he was given the freedom to show his talent and creativity in the deli side of the business, which later turned into a successful catering. This put Baker & Spice onto the foodie map of London. The company preserved Sami’s legacy and expanded to different locations in London and other parts of the world.
In 2002, Sami Tamimi partnered with Yotam Ottolenghi (whom he met and worked with at Baker & Spice), and Noam Bar in opening the first Ottolenghi deli in Notting Hill. The company has since expanded to more locations in London, including five delis and two restaurants: NOPI and ROVI.
At Ottolenghi Sami and Yotam created a concept that has proven a huge success from day one, serving trademark savoury food, pastry, providing catering and running two busy restaurants in central London. Over the years, Sami was in charge of food creativity and nurturing younger chefs around the company.
Sami and Yotam have written two critically acclaimed cookbooks, Ottolenghi and Jerusalem, the latter winning many awards, including the International Book Award from the James Beard Foundation in 2013. Jerusalem has been credited with starting many cookbook clubs all over the world.
Sami Tamimi’s third cookbook Falastin is co-authored with Tara Wigly is a winner of the Fortnum & Mason Cookery Book of the Year 2021, James Beard Award Nominee 2022, IACP Award winner and Longlisted for The Art Of Eating Prize 2021.