Guess how master chef Eyal Shani heard about the illegal branch of Miznon, his famed Tel Aviv restaurant, that recently opened in Shenzhen, China? From the brother of one of his staff members, who happened to be traveling through China and ate at what appeared to be the latest outpost of the Tel Aviv hot spot.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Shani. “I thought maybe I opened a Miznon there and forgot. I don’t always remember everything.”
But this attempt to completely copy Miznon was not part of the Shani’s grand plan.
The restaurant group, which has several bistros in Tel Aviv — as well as a kosher-style Miznon in Paris (no seafood or dairy products on the menu, as requested by Shani’s French partner, who is religious) and Vienna, a recently opened outpost in Melbourne, Australia and a Miznon stall in New York City’s Chelsea Market that is opening in November — hadn’t really considered China, said Shani.
It’s true that the Melbourne Miznon staff thinks about China, he said.
“For them, China is a new world of opportunities,” he said. “There’s fewer regulations, lots of possibility, so there were thoughts about the East from there. But we had no thoughts about China from Israel.”
Now that this counterfeit Chinese outfit has appeared, Shani and his partners have to figure out what to do, he said.
“It’s very funny for us how we entered a club of counterfeiters,” he said.
It was Israel’s Channel Two that first revealed the fake branch of Miznon, the Hebrew word for buffet.
The ersatz Chinese version appears to offer Shani’s beloved whole roasted cauliflower, as well as its well-known menu of anything stuffed in a pita, from roasted tomatoes, sweet potato, ratatouille and potatoes to chicken livers, minute steak and kebaburgers.
The Chinese advertisement noted that “Miznon is known for making everything in-house, and we are committed to continuing this fashion…The signature whole roasted cauliflower and the vegetarian ratatouille are also made on site…What you can expect is a whole new experience of dining. Pita bags filled with high-end ingredients, such as slow-cooked lamb, steaks, seafood, vegetarian options included.”
Now Shani and his partners have to figure out who brought Miznon to China, deducing who’s behind the sham, stuffed “pita pockets,” “veggie-centric sandwiches” and “roasted cauliflower heads,” advertised on ShenzhenParty.com.
“Our goal is that they will take off the name and menu,” said Shani.
“We see this, and how exact a copy it is, and I say, well, they don’t have the right to do it,” added Shani, a long-time judge on Israel’s “Master Chef” TV show. “They can’t take all of my history, and everything I’ve done in the last ten years, all our fine food and resources and knowledge, and the crystallisation of fast food that we made at Miznon. We use the best ingredients and put them in a pita and sell them as inexpensively as we possibly can.”