There’s a lot of power in the word “no,” as Reef’s Restaurant chef/owner Asi Yoked will attest: “I think that, as a society, we have grown accustomed to saying ‘yes’ to everything.” The entrepreneur uses the potent syllable as a man who’s worked for others his whole life, and also as a stubborn artist.
“If somebody is going to ask me to substitute this for that [ingredient], I’m probably going to say ‘no,’ because I put a lot of thought into balance. Why would I want my customer to try something other than what I envisioned?” Yoked says.
The restaurateur, however, has a “yes” approach—or, rather, a no-restraint methodology—to crafting his menu. “The main thing is to not to be afraid. Fear is your worst enemy in life, and that carries over to food,” Yoked says, adding that his Mediterranean restaurant goes out of bounds from its regional label. Examples from the spring menu include eggplant baladi, moules au lait de coco and minute steak with grape-tomato and green-chili salad with white tahini.
These unique creations come from the man’s equally unique personal narrative: He was born in Tel Aviv, traveled the world since childhood, never graduated high school, served in the Israeli Special Forces, battled drug addiction in New York City, owned a fishing business in Florida, worked his first cooking job at Denny’s in Summit County, Colo., etc.
Now, in the kitchen, however, he is a worldly culinary wizard, whose personality shows in his restaurant—from the food flairs to the eclectic, cozy environment—which is always changing. “I’m totally ADD,” Yoked says. “I’m crazy, in that, like, monotony is my biggest enemy. When I walk into my restaurant, it just has to be interesting. If it’s not good for me, it’s not good for anybody.”
710 Main, Park City