Growing up in Israel, Ilan Amoltov would stand in the family kitchen, watching his mother prepare classic Persian dishes, and fell in love with cooking. As the co-chef/owner of Black Tie Events, he improvised and combined the spices and flavors of his mother’s home cooking with the refined techniques he learned working as a chef at a French restaurant in England. His co-chef/owner, Tiran Nahari has developed his own Mediterranean fusion style and some amazing signature dishes. “People tell us our food is more flavorful,” Nahari says. “Different and delicious.”
While Black Tie specializes in Persian and Mediterranean dishes, they can prepare any pareve, milchig or fleischig menu the client desires. Susan Tahari, of Fort Lee and Alpine met Amaltov at the Fort Lee Chabad and enjoyed the food he served at shul events. She hired him to cook for her house parties—which included a Persian-themed dinner with all the exotic trimmings—as well as Pesach sedarim for many guests. When her twins graduated from Ramaz last June, Black Tie Events threw a pre-prom party for the whole class, 250 people, at her Alpine residence. “The presentation was beautiful—wraps of all kinds and a sushi bar. And the waiters were excellent. There were many parents there from New York City, Westchester and Long Island who do a lot of charity work, and they were very impressed. After the kids left, they stayed!”
At a recent kiddush, Black Tie presented lamb stew and chicken with ginger, honey and roasted garlic. “I create menus to the clients’ tastes,” said Nahari. “I ask if they like sweet or savory, beef, chicken or fish. We ask about gluten-free needs and nut allergies. Then we put together a menu with a number of items to choose from.”
Black Tie caters cozy house parties; shul kiddushim and brisim, even weddings for 400. They do institutional functions for Jewish National Fund and Touro College and other organizations. For large functions, Amaltov and Nahari turn to relationships they have developed with suppliers and food service personnel to manage every aspect of an event or they can do drop-offs and set-ups only.
Both men are Sabras. Amaltov, who now handles most of the administrative duties for Black Tie, was sent to boarding school in England along with his younger brother. He cooked for both of them, and schoolmates liked his food. He hired on at a French restaurant and learned how to make flambés and other French classics. Later, he opened a traditional Israeli restaurant. After moving to the US, he tried opening a kosher deli and a high-end Italian bakery. Just as he was beginning to think about what to do next, a friend introduced him to Nahari.
Tiran Nahari grew up in a large family that included several adopted siblings. “There were 18-20 of us,” he said. “Sometimes I’d come home from school and there would be no food so I cooked it. But right from the beginning, I liked doing it.” He earned his Toque at Hadassah Culinary School, and worked at the Dan Acadia Eilat and several restaurants in Jerusalem. After his stint in the IDF, he became a contractor, but found that the same rules didn’t apply here. So he went back to food service and was thinking about opening a restaurant when he met Amaltov. The two decided to become caterers.
Fort Lee Chabad’s Rabbi Konikov gave them access to the kitchen when it wasn’t being used, and was their mashgiach. “Sometimes we’d be there ’til 6 a.m.,” Nahari recalls. “It was fun,” he says, smiling at the nostalgic memories. Fueled by word of mouth, the business began to grow. “People started telling their friends about how they loved the food at our events. And guests at an event would come up to us and ask if we could do a party for them.” Soon, the Fort Lee Chabad kitchen was too small. Rabbi Konikov introduced them to Rabbi Shane at the Chabad on the Palisades, and they use the commissary.
Amaltov said he hopes Black Tie grows to do 30 -40 parties a week. “I want to be the first name people think of when they need a caterer,” he says. Nahari adds, “And we’d like people to think of us when they want something out-of-the box, a little different.”
Black Tie Events is under RCBC supervision but the partners can get any hashgacha a client needs, including Satmar. For more information, visit www.btecaterers.com.
By Bracha Schwartz