If the yeast shortages around the globe are any indication, people are embracing the art of baking to alleviate quarantine-induced stress. Guy Eshed—a skilled baker/chef and Principal Flute of the Israel Phil—was ahead of the trend. Take one look at Guy’s Instagram and you will find a delectable assemblage of pastas, pies, breads, tarts, and even pretzels in all of their gluten-y goodness.
We had the chance to speak with Guy about how his culinary and musical passions intertwine; here is a taste of our conversation.
Many know you as the Principal Flute of the Israel Philharmonic, but fewer know that you are a skilled chef. How do you find time to cook, bake, and play music during quarantine?
First, I am not sure I can be called a chef… but yes, cooking, baking, and food in general are on my mind constantly as another passion of mine. And when you are passionate and interested in something it is very easy to find time for it because it’s fun!
It seems almost everyone has taken to baking during quarantine, but you were ahead of the trend. How did you discover this second passion?
So this is actually a very old hobby and passion of mine. My first recollection of cooking is as a 6-year-old child, cooking breakfast for my parents on a Shabbat morning.
What is your favorite dish or baked good to make?
This is a very difficult question—it is almost like asking me what my favorite piece of music is. My answer is whatever piece I’m playing or whatever dish I am cooking at the moment. (But I do have a soft spot for Italian cuisine, breads, and sweets.)
Do you have a special recipe of yours you would like to share?
I think the best way to start and discover the magic of baking is a nice challah! You need 500g flour, 1/4 cup sugar, spoon of dry yeast, half a spoon salt, 200g water, 1/4 cup oil, one egg. Mix the dry ingredients, add the wet ones and knead for 7-10 min until you get a nice smooth dough. Let rise in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. After the dough has doubled its size, divide into 3 balls, cover them with a towel and let them rest for 5-10 min. Form plaits and braid the challah. Move into an oven tray lined with parchment paper. Cover, and let it rise again for 40-60 min, turn on oven on to 350 F. When the challah has risen, brush it gently with an egg wash (whisked egg and a drop of water), sprinkle some sesame seeds on top and bake for 25-30 min, until golden and a hollow sound is heard when knocking on the bottom of the challah.
Do you listen to music while you bake or cook? And, if so, what do you listen to?
I do sometimes and it is usually opera. But my favorite thing is actually to cook or bake after concerts—in silence—when it’s quiet outside and the house is peaceful when I can just be with my thoughts and inner music.
In what ways do you find cooking and playing music to be similar?
I think the two questions deal with the love of creating something that nourishes and heals the soul and the body. They are both about the joy of giving something from yourself…they are also about the beauty of interpretation; when two different musicians/chefs are playing/cooking the same piece/recipe they will always sound/taste differently, depending on the personality and character of the creator.
Savory or sweet?
Both! But best for me: savory, sweet and savory again. I also don’t like my desserts to be too sweet, so I often add a savory touch, like chocolate with salt or hot pepper, cream with herbs, etc.
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