This couple hosts lavish dinner parties for a living
Yael and Keren of Habanot (“The Girls”) are known across Tel Aviv for their lavish dinner feasts, where nobody leaves hungry, and everyone leaves happy — whether it’s because of the people they met, the sea breeze coming through the windows, or the abundant wine pairings. Their menu, appropriately called“10 steps to Happiness,” changes daily based on what inspires them in their local market.
They refer to themselves simply as “a couple who really likes food and people.” But to us, and the near 6,500 guests who have entered their home…they represent much more than that. Independently, they are two cool, creative, talented women who light up any room. But together, they make a powerful statement about what life can bring when women take hold of their lives and follow their passions. These girls inspire us every day, and we’re excited to have their story kick off our month-long celebration of women in food.
Tell us about yourselves. How did you meet?
Yael is a former dancer and a pastry chef and Keren is an artist and a chef. Keren worked in Tel Aviv’s restaurants for many years, but kept her studio alive and kept on creating her art. Our first date was at a seafood restaurant where we relished a plate of oysters and a few rounds of margaritas. From that point on, it didn’t take long until we were sharing our kitchen and our lives. We feel so lucky to be able to make a living as full-time EatWith hosts.
What’s your favorite thing about hosting?
Watching our guests smile, laugh and just enjoy the experience we built together. The amazing part of hosting is that every event is different. We can’t predict the atmosphere and the vibes that will take place at the event, we let every event surprise us! It’s a great feeling to be able to create an experience exactly like you want it to be. Our creation is changing all the time and getting better. It’s an amazing feeling of freedom to do what you love and follow your own rules.
Tell us about your most memorable EatWith experience.
Our most memorable experience was when we hosted blind veterans. We especially remember a beautiful young man that was injured in ‘Zuk Eitan’ (the last war). He touched our hearts and we did everything we could to make him feel good. For a couple of hours we saw him smiling and feeling good about himself like he should… this was very powerful.
What are your tips for hosting the perfect dinner party? How do you make your dinners so special?
Our dinner parties are planned the way we would enjoy them. Guests that arrive to our place need to feel comfortable and excited. Our kitchen is open to guests that are curious and we welcome them to come inside and taste from the pots and jars. The atmosphere at our place is always happy, welcoming and warm. We serve wine, beer and shots of vodka with generosity and of course keep the menu full with fresh and tasty dishes — no one is leaving our dinner party hungry.
What is your favorite part about living in Tel Aviv? Does the city influence your culinary style?
We love the city! Although we also love peace and quite, we are in love with the versatility and unique vibes of Tel Aviv. We are sure that the city influences our taste in a very enriching way. Tel Aviv is one of the best culinary cities in the world and it never stops impressing us.
Describe your perfect day in Tel Aviv.
The perfect day in Tel Aviv will start at the beach. For lunch we’d have hummus and beer, and this will lead us straight to bed for a good nap. In the afternoon we’d have black coffee and watch a movie.
For dinner we would go to Hotel Montifiori and enjoy a perfect dinner with plenty of margaritas!
Who do you want to EatWith soon?
We have been to many EatWith events here in Israel and we must say that there are some very talented cooks! Our last dinner was at Maya and Yonatan’s in Jaffa and it was just perfect.
We would like to try so many hosts’ food! It’s hard to choose one… just the idea of traveling and exploring new kitchens sounds exciting!
Who are some women you admire?
We are the biggest fans of each other, for many reasons. We just keep learning from each other and creating culinary and social experiences together.
Photography by Matan Katz.