Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich are a culinary power couple. The duo moved from Israel to London to pursue their long-held ambition to open up their own Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant. In June 2012, they opened up Honey & Co in Warren Street, Fitzrovia. Since then, the couple have also opened up a deli (Honey & Spice) and a grill (Honey & Smoke), all within a stones-throw of each other. They have also published three cookbooks, and their fourth is due to be released in May 2021.

I meet the pair over Zoom, where I find them both hunched-together in the sunbeams of their South London flat. We talk about food influences, and for both Sarit and Itamar, the influences can be traced back to their childhood. Sarit grew up in Northern Israel, where her earliest food influences came from cooking with her mother. It was here that she developed a fascination for “all the gruesome jobs” such as mincing meat (perhaps this serves as an explanation for her avid vegetarianism since the age of 10). Meanwhile, Itamar who was born in Jerusalem, recalled strong memories of flipping omelettes with his dad and chopping salad with his mum. The two met when they were both working at Joya, an Italian restaurant in Herzliya.

After discussing romances igniting over kitchen stoves, we talk about the name. “Well, we got “honey” as we allegedly come from the “land of milk and honey”, but the name was taken, so we added “& co,”” recalls Sarit. Although simple, the brand name is perfectly suited to Sarit and Itamar’s brand – they are honey-sweet, welcoming, and bounce off each other like a competitive game of table tennis. The raison d’être of their restaurant is a sense that you “are coming to our home for dinner”, explains Sarit. “One day, our front of house, Rachel, instinctively drew up a chair to a table to take an order – it’s very Israeli, not very English. Back home people are so familiar with you, you know their life story – well, that’s the essence of Honey & Co.”

According to Itamar, the majority of their recipes are traditional: “80% of what we do is something we know from home. In Tel Aviv, street food is king, a £3 falafel is as good as an expensive one over here. So, it’s a matter of taste and the food we know – it’s just a matter of getting the version that suits, seasoning and cooking to how we like it.” Sarit interjects: “20% is experimentation. Let’s say Itamar wants to try out a miso and walnut cookie – we try it, add different nuts, chocolate – we play. But really, the restaurant also dictates a lot. If something’s too spicy, we amend, if it’s too mild, we add. If someone says, “it was good but…”, we work on the but.”