Chefs in the City: Daniel Soskolne

Chef Daniel Soskolne on improvisation, space, and site-specific cooking.
Photo by Georgia Hilmer.

For this Broadcast series, Pioneer Works Supper Club chefs and collaborators are asked what small businesses they frequent—in a celebration of city life, good food, and all things local. In the process, we learn more about their background, their worldview, and what day-to-day activities inform their creative, culinary practice.

About LEV

Loren Abramovich and Daniel Soskolne make up the chef duo LEV, which means “heart” in Hebrew. Native Israelis, Daniel grew up in Jerusalem and Loren in Yodfat, a small village in Galilee. They followed parallel culinary paths, with both studying in Italy; Loren worked in Turin at a local trattoria, while Daniel apprenticed in a restaurant on the island of Ischia. They finally crossed paths in the kitchen of renowned Israeli chef Eyal Shani at HaSalon restaurant in Tel Aviv. Under Shani’s tutelage, they explored local produce by foraging wild herbs and plants, and extensively scouring the markets of Jerusalem and Galilee together.

Separately, they made their way to New York and formed LEV in 2014 to share their site-specific and spontaneous way of cooking. With LEV, Loren and Daniel have combined their roots, values, and life’s work. Their cooking is the alchemy of intention, curiosity, and pure ingredients.

With life, like work, they are synchronized in the most natural and beautiful of ways. Family men, both welcomed their second children into the world last year. Loren’s wife Alicia Mersy, a new media artist and filmmaker, was a Pioneer Works tech resident in 2019, the same year Mor Mendel, Daniel’s wife, choreographed and performed Tamar Ettun’s Dead Sea at the space. In a series of coincidences, the performance happened to premiere the same week LEV cooked in the garden for Summer Solstice.


Georgia Hilmer

I met up with Daniel at his garden apartment in Clinton Hill, exploring his favorite neighborhood staples while discussing the concept of “site specific cooking” and what it means for LEV.

“It is a lot about improvisation and adapting to the space. It’s more about the presentation but also the food, too, sometimes. We come in and envision something that is actually really appropriate to the space and how we fit inside that space.”

Daniel Soskolne stands in front of Impasto Pizzeria.
Georgia Hilmer

Impasto Pizzeria:

373 Waverly Ave

“Impasto is more like a Roman style pizza. What they do here that's amazing is that they basically double bake the dough. So they make the dough, they bake it almost all the way, and then they do the topping and re-bake it. And it creates this really glassy crust that you break into. They use good ingredients and they're pretty straight forward. Everything is good.

Georgia Hilmer
Georgia Hilmer

I come here one or twice a week. My son loves it. Sometimes I don't walk here with him because otherwise he just goes in. All they do here are slices, so we mix and match in that way. Everybody has one...or a few...and they cut it in half. It’s sweet.“

A street shot of Daniel Soskolne in doorway of Do it Best Hardware
Georgia Hilmer

Do It Best Hardware:

900 Fulton St

“Loren and I went on a trip to Home Depot for LEV, and suddenly we realized, 'Fuck, this is heaven for us.' We like tying things, using tiles to serve on, and improvising and not just being confined to that plates-in-a-restaurant mindset. Plus, these hardware stores are places that I just enjoy going into. It's fun. It's like a toy store, you know?

There’s the famous apparatus we use over the fire. We had this idea of building it out of the metal pipes that you use for plumbing. And basically you can just put it over a fire, over a grill, over anything. And then you can dismantle it, put it in a car, and drive away.”

Georgia Hilmer
Georgia Hilmer
Daniel Soskolne drinks coffee in window
Georgia Hilmer


1001 Fulton St

“So Romans is a really beautiful neighborhood restaurant owned by the same people as Diner and Marlow [and Sons] and Achilles [Heel]. So they have really, really, really good ingredients. They work with farms, they have their own meat, and they have a butcher shop, so they get all the whole animals they need, butcher them, and distribute them between restaurants. The quality of the ingredients is amazing.

They do a more classic kind of Italian format. So there's an antipasti, there's the premi, which is the pastas, and then there's the secondi, which is like the main courses. It’s always very simple stuff. You'll find, like, pasta fagioli or pastas with chickpeas, or pastas, you know, that are not as traditional.”

Georgia Hilmer
Georgia Hilmer
Daniel Soskolne stands against brick wall.
Georgia Hilmer
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