Chef Ofir Arbel and Eitan Oram

Hummus chef brings Acre to Tarzana [VIDEO]


Ofir Arbel, the head chef at Hummus Bar and Grill, has a few fond memories involving hummus from his time growing up in Israel. When he and his teenage buddies would finish up a night of partying at 4 or 5 a.m., they’d often head to a hummus restaurant to eat until the booze was all soaked up and they were ready to sleep away the morning.

In general though, “I almost didn’t touch hummus,” said during a recent interview. In his Ashkenazi family, it just wasn’t a staple.

 

That all changed when he immigrated to the San Fernando Valley and took over the kitchens at a Tarzana hummus joint that’s become a cultural institution for the Los Angeles Israeli American community and beyond. Now, it’s hummus every morning, and on nights and weekends: Arbel tastes each batch to assure quality.

On May 2, Arbel will be interviewed on stage at Leammle’s Town Center in Encino after a screening of “Hummus! The Movie,” a film that follows the lives and journeys of several hummus restaurateurs in Israel. He’ll be joined by Mitch Julis, one of the movie’s producers, with Jewish Journal staff writer Eitan Arom moderating.

During a recent visit with a reporter and videographer from the Journal, Arbel produced plate after plate of every manner of hummus, salad and meat dish.

There was hummus with ground beef, hummus with mushrooms and hummus with whole garbanzo beans; there was creamy chopped liver, a Turkish bell pepper salad, two kinds of baba ghanoush, corn salad and more; and of course, there was red wine to wash it all down.

When this reporter protested he couldn’t possibly eat another bite, Arbel countered, “It’s really insulting — you have to try a main dish,” as if three types of hummus and about a dozen salads didn’t constitute a main dish.

Ofir summoned three plates of meat skewers, which to everybody’s surprise were quickly consumed. By the time the kanafe was finished, a desert based on shredded filo dough, the entire company was ready for a good, long nap.

Hummus Bar and Grill is located on 18743 Ventura Boulevard in Tarzana and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., and till 1 a.m. on Saturdays.

For more information on the film screening and interview, visit lajfilmfest.org.