Interview With Chef Nir, Plus His Ras el Hanout-Spiced Chicken Thighs November 10, 2015

by Behind the Scenes

We’ve already told you how crazy excited we are for the start of our Guest Chef Series, but we just had to remind you that the first featured recipe from Chef Nir is coming up in our box next week!  His Ras el Hanout-Spiced Chicken Thighs with Freekeh Salad, Butternut Squash, and Lemony Yogurt Sauce is sure to become your new favorite, with it’s deep Mediterranean feel and personal, familial roots.  A lot of Chef Nir’s cooking is inspired by his mother, and the comfortably, hearty, healthy flavor of this dish is radiating with home-cooked goodness.


Chef Nir Mesika has always been passionate about food. Starting at age 7, he was cooking meals for his entire family, using the classic home-cooked dishes his mother taught him. Chef Nir has a passion for cooking with love; each of his recipes are inspired by memories, experiences, and his curiosity to try new ingredients. Enjoy his recipes for HelloFresh over the coming months!

We sat down with Chef Nir to learn more about his inspiration…


HelloFresh: Tell us a bit more about your food philosophy.

Chef Nir: I believe that the most important thing about cooking is creating something with love; from your heart. You don’t need the fanciest ingredients and the final product doesn’t need to be perfect. Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best ones, as long as one of the ingredients is passion. It’s about making the people you share them with happy; you have to cook with love, or not at all.

HelloFresh: How and when did you decide to become a chef and open Timna? 

Chef Nir: I’ve been cooking since I was seven years old. I always helped my mother while she was at work, feeding my siblings lunch and dinner. Food has always been in my life. As I got older, I realized it was something I wanted to pursue as a career. So, I went to culinary school and fell deeper in love. I opened my first restaurant in Milan in 2008, and then came to New York to expand my horizons. I wanted my own restaurant with my own concept and menu.


HelloFresh: What do you do in your spare time to gain inspiration for new recipes?

Chef Nir: I don’t have a lot of spare time, but I love to travel with my wife. Lately, we’ve been renting a car and heading to upstate New York to explore all the farms and really witness the change in seasons. The seasons are a big inspiration for me; when I see snow, I remember cold winter days, bringing back memories of braised meat and hearty stews. Food helps to preserve memories and to create new ones.

HelloFresh: What has been your most memorable meal?

Chef Nir: A few years ago, a friend took me out to dinner for my birthday; it was a fine-dining restaurant with a 12-course tasting menu. At the end of the meal, I went into the kitchen to ask the chef for a job; I wanted to learn how to create what I had just experienced. I ended up staying for 3 years working there and still remember every single course I ate at that first meal.

tuna tartar_timna

HelloFresh: Do you have any funny stories or anecdotes from the kitchen? 

Chef Nir: The kitchen is a fun place. Fun people work as chefs. One time, we had a new line cook starting, and we started hearing feedback from the dining room that everything tasted sweet. It turns out he had mistaken sugar for salt! It didn’t seem funny at the time, but looking back I can laugh at that moment.

So will you be able to resist Chef Nir’s recipe on the menu next week? Meal Choice closes tomorrow (Wednesday) at MIDNIGHT.  Make sure you opt into this recipe because you do NOT want to miss out!

Check out the recipe, give Chef Nir’s special Moroccan Michelada recipe a try, and visit Timna next time you’re in NYC for the most delicious flavors this side of the Mediterranean.  Comment and let us know what you think!

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