“The food is consistently amazing. Just trust the chef.”
Born in Israel, Erez Pinhas grew up in a bustling apartment complex in Rehovot. The food he ate at home drew on culinary treasures brought back from the Jewish Diaspora. On Shabbat, neighbors would share pots of food, a tradition especially strong in Erez’s extended Yemenite Jewish family. Those home-cooked meals — including dishes from the Middle East, Persia, North Africa, Europe, India, and the Far East — gave him a global palate. An early love of maps honed his taste for travel.
After completing his service as Captain in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), commanding a combat parachute unit, Erez indulged his wanderlust for several years, exploring far corners of Asia, Central America, and South America. Everywhere, he sought out delicious, authentic food, also seeking to learn where it came from and how it was prepared. His adventures took him from a fishing boat on the Amazon to the streets of Bangkok. In Santiago, Chile, he met his future wife and partner, American Christina Bratberg.
After tasting the world, Erez hungered to merge his Israeli heritage with the flavors and ingredients he had discovered, so he returned to Tel Aviv to enroll in culinary school. His first kitchen job was at the pioneering restaurant Keren, where he worked with renowned owner-chef Chaim Cohen and other budding chefs from varied ethnic traditions. Keren occupied a historic dwelling built by missionaries from Maine and “looked like a New England house transported to the Middle East.” Perhaps a sign of things to come!
In 1997, Erez and his young family moved to the States. On earlier visits he had experienced the beauty and peace of Cape Cod and become a devotee of its native seafood (and a fisherman himself!). Settling in Orleans — a hub for summer visitors as well as year-rounders — he and Christina created ABBA. A pan-Mediterranean restaurant with Asian overtones, it showcased the bounty of the sea and fresh vegetables and herbs grown in their gardens. “I wanted a place to express and share my passion for food, my ideas about flavors from my childhood and those encountered on my travels,” Erez says.
Since opening in 2001, ABBA has consistently won praise from the food press and diners for its creative menu and cocktail program, uncommon wine list, and casual-elegant ambiance. It also has provided essential training for young chefs and future restaurateurs.
In 2016, Erez’s passions — food and travel — converged in a new business: ABBAgo Travel, creating custom itineraries for travelers seeking culinary and cultural adventures in Israel. ABBAgo curates these journeys the way Erez assembles his cuisine—with artfulness and invention, local ingredients, and supreme attentiveness to detail.
An acclaimed chef, a generous host, an engaging storyteller, a trusted leader, and a family man ... Erez is also a true global citizen, whose appetite for roaming our world informs his cooking and all his endeavors.