Oakland chef Lee Davidson on the set of "Chopped" (Photo/Courtesy of Food Network)
Oakland chef Lee Davidson on the set of "Chopped" (Photo/Courtesy of Food Network)

Oakland chef on Thanksgiving ‘Chopped’; previous local champ’s new venture

Oakland chef Lee Davidson, founder of Made2Gather who was profiled in this column last year, just became another local Jewish chef to compete on the Food Network program “Chopped.” Given that Davidson grew up in South Africa and Israel, she was a bit flummoxed when she learned that the episode was Thanksgiving-themed and was faced, for instance, with a whole turkey (she had never butchered one before). Nonetheless, she managed to impress the judges with her Israeli treatment of the bird, seasoning it with cinnamon, cardamom and cumin, and serving it with a tahini-parsley sauce that the judges said was creative and went surprisingly well with the turkey.

Davidson came in second place. “The experience was incredible, it was a four-year dream of mine to get on there,” she said. “Getting feedback from [judge] Martha Stewart was the best part. She loved my food and said, ‘This is what I would expect from an Israeli chef.’ I feel accomplished and happy I fulfilled a dream.” The episode, “Thanksgiving Pie, Oh My,” aired on Nov. 20.


A past Bay Area winner of “Chopped,” Mark Liberman, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help build out his forthcoming restaurant on Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue, to be called Mägo, which means “magician” in Spanish. Liberman will be cooking local, seasonal food, and perks at the restaurant are on offer to investors. Liberman is of Colombian and Jewish heritage, and formerly was chef at AQ in San Francisco.


There’s now another place to get shakshuka in the city. Oren’s Hummus in San Francisco is now open for breakfast and has rolled out a new menu for that meal. In addition to shakshouka, a popular egg dish that features eggs cooked over a sauce, usually tomato based — Oren’s also offers a green version, with kale and cream — there’s a traditional Israeli breakfast with eggs, a basket of fresh breads, Israeli salad, goat cheese, olives, roasted peppers and matbucha (a cooked tomato salad). There’s also a smoked salmon plate and challah French toast. Oren’s Hummus is at 71 Third St., near Mission Street.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."