Russell Birk is the self-described “chief hummus maker” of Maya’s Modern Mediterranean. He left his cushy corporate job to become a restaurateur. As a health buff and a frequent visitor of Israel, he was puzzled why Israeli food hadn’t hit it big in America. Birk set out to do what Zoe’s did for Greek food — make Mediterranean food accessible and give neighbors a healthy option to feed their families.
What is the difference between Greek and Israeli food? It may look similar, but there are small variances in flavors and ingredients. Birk likens it to mole in Mexico — every region has its own take.
“The hummus is the best example,” Birk says. “In Greece, the hummus is all about the garlic and lemon juice. In Israel, the hummus is all about tahini and olive oil.”
The hero dish of Maya’s is the hummus. Birk spent 15 years traveling around Israel researching what makes the perfect hummus.
“Every year I would go to Israel, and I would find a local to take me to their favorite hummus spot,” Birk says. “I traveled all around Israel looking for the best hummus.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Maya’s displays art from Skyline High School, where many of the employees are students.