(JTA) — An Israeli chef who was skewered by a food critic for a $24 tomato appetizer said he received anti-Semitic hate mail in response.
Eyal Shani opened the upscale HaSalon, known for its party atmosphere, in Hell’s Kitchen three months ago. A review on Tuesday in the New York Post said of the appetizer tomato cut into eight pieces and drizzled with olive oil and sea salt: “Its red/green/brown hues and sea of swirling seeds thrilled my eyes. Its deep, nutty-and-sweet, late-August, just-picked flavor pleased my palate. Its appearance on the menu offended my wallet.”
The review concluded: “HaSalon translates as ‘the salon’ or, as applied to this venue, ‘the living room.’ But it might as well mean, Ha, suckers! The joke’s on us.”
The New Yorker magazine also took note of the high-priced produce, noting, “It was a very nice tomato, but, for that price, it should come with a massage and a pedicure.”
Following the publication of the Post review, Shani said he received an anonymous anti-Semitic letter which read, in part: “Majority of Americans despise Israel. We did not want your Soda Stream. And only stupid kikes would eat at your overpriced pit.”
The letter also accuses Jews of not paying taxes and not paying their employees, and states that the “measles outbreak was spread by your Orthodox cult freaks.”
The letter concludes “Jews are not wanted here! HaSalon days are numbered.”
The letter was posted on Twitter by Shani’s business partner, Shahar Segal, under the heading in Hebrew “Good Morning America.”
Shani, who also owns the popular New York restaurant Miznon, was a judge on Israel’s “Master Chef” and has frequently talked about his love for tomatoes.