“Cooking is a part of life,” says Tomer Blechman, chef and owner of Miss Ada in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. “It’s everything. It’s using my hands, it’s cooking for other people. It’s like a symphony of ingredients that make people happy.”
Blechman was born in Ra’anana, a small town next to Tel Aviv. Some of his earliest memories were those of street food like hummus and pita. “Also cooking with my grandma in the kitchen,” he recalls, noting that he didn’t think gastronomy would be a part of his adult life.
Instead, alternative medicine called—specifically, shiatsu therapy. “Shiatsu is like a dance,” Blechman says. “It’s like in between the elements, in between the meridians, but you also work with your hands, you work with your legs. It’s fascinating.”
Blechman came stateside in 2005, landing in San Francisco to do acupuncture. “And then I decided that everything we do in our life is first of all with food—we’re all trying to be healthy but this is the main thing.” he says. “It’s another way of healing. You have acupuncture, you have shiatsu, and you have food.”
He then moved to New York City, cooking in the revered kitchen of Gramercy Tavern. “The philosophy of [Danny Meyer's] hospitality is something that goes with me the whole way.” It was during his tenure at Cookshop where Blechman had a revelation: “If I work really hard, I should work for myself, I should create what I want.”
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His modern Israeli restaurant, Miss Ada, opened on Dekalb Avenue in May of 2017. The name is actually a play on the word “misada,” or “restaurant” in Hebrew. “Everybody pronounces it ‘Miss Ada,’” Blechman says, “and [if] you look at the logo, it means that everybody’s welcome.”
Blechman’s menu is a reflection of his childhood in Israel, as well as the techniques and his restaurant experience of New York City. “Some Moroccan food, Iraqi food, Russian food, New York Food, Jewish food, everything together.” And though he proclaims to be “80% more chef now than a healer,” Blechman still brings his alternative medicine side to his plates by lightening up the fare. “I try to make things in a healthier way. So I didn’t give up shiatsu, I still have it in me. I still have it to create.”
“Let’s say I’m choosing something to eat,” he continues. “It’s important that I choose to eat it. It’s important that I know where it comes from, how I’m going to take it to the next level and cook myself, and to the next level and bring my family to the table and eat, and the next level [and] give it to the next generation that follows me.” Blechman also credits his entire staff—servers and cooks—to the menu’s evolution. “It’s changing like it’s something that’s ... alive. I can be the person who talks but it’s a creation of everything that comes every day through this door and changing it, and it’s amazing for me to see it.”
Video and photos shot by Kathryn M. Sheldon, an award-winning producer, photographer and editor with a background in still photography and television production. Having produced food and beverage content for seven years at NBC, she is currently producing video content for the MICHELIN Guide.