Shaul Paloge

Where is Shaul now?


Binyamina, Israel

Owner, Chef



Interview by Leanora Karnath and Morgan O'Reilly


What was your ultimate goal when enrolling in the Apicius program?

I knew I wanted to study Italian cuisine. For me, cuisine here is something more available and more practical; it can have varying levels of sophistication and seem more simple, but you really need to know how to understand the ingredients. Understanding quality is the main thing I got out of coming to Italy.


How did Apicius prepare you to enter the culinary world?

I worked in a restaurant where the chef, Pierluigi, was one of my instructors. Before coming to Italy, I already had some experience working in restaurants, but to actually work in Italy with such a talented mentor was a big step for me. Also, on top of studying, I went to a lot of food-related exhibitions so it was always quite interesting to explore cuisine here.


What are the most valuable skills you acquired through the Apicius program?

It was important to learn how to work with dough, to make fresh pasta, and to prepare a risotto; I learned how to understand basic ingredients in order to build a solid culinary foundation. The Italian kitchen is something you can touch with your hands, it is not unattainable; but you need to do it first with love, I think. There is a lot of passion coming from within and I think you can feel it. The world appreciates Italian food because it’s good; you always know what you’re eating.


After you finished your program with Apicius, what steps were involved in starting a restaurant?

When I finished the program, I felt I had the knowledge and the capability to do what I wanted to do with Italian cuisine. Once back in Israel I continued to work as a chef in some restaurants to get more experience, because being a chef is not just about cooking, and after two years, we opened Palogi. It was a big thing for us because it’s a family business that involves me and my parents, and although we are in Israel, I always maintain an Italian touch.


What inspired Palogi’s food and atmosphere?

The restaurant is not in the city, it’s in a little village and there’s a lot of outdoor seating. It’s really colorful so it doesn’t look like an Italian restaurant but I think it’s something quite unique because when people eat there, people can still feel an Italian essence. The colorful scheme is due partly to my parent’s aesthetic, although I think it’s important to understand where you are.


What can you tell us about the menu itself?

The menu is one step forward to spring, it is lighter than winter food. The Israeli kitchen is a mix of many cultures and there is also the Mediterranean context, so the ingredients are similar. I combined more eastern methodologies with new ideas and tried to use ingredients such as olive oil, fresh vegetables, and grains, that are close to us (in Israel). It was meant to be vegetarian from the beginning, which is something different from the traditional Italian restaurant.


Tell us about your time in Italy to reconnect with the hospitality department at FUA. What prompted your return to Florence?

I was the guest chef at a themed dinner event at Ganzo, for which I designed a completely vegetarian menu. It’s an honor for me to return to Florence. I was really happy that Gabriella Ganugi, the President and Founder of the school, attended and enjoyed a dinner that I prepared as a professional after my time as a student. It was also great to work with Andrea Trapani, he’s a serious and extremely busy chef so it was great to spend dedicated time with him in the kitchen. I felt a lot of respect coming from them; they opened a door for me and they allowed me to do something that is unique. Our team for the evening served a very nice menu and everything was executed very well. Ganzo doesn’t feel just like a school, it feels like a serious restaurant.


What advice do you have for future Apicius graduates?

I would tell them to come without thinking too much about what they already know. Come and be open to new ideas because everybody knows Italian food, but few know how it really is in Italy. You need to understand that you are coming to a culinary country, and in addition to attending the institution, you need to travel around and explore different regions to understand other methods of Italian cooking.


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