Trustees Want Chef Eyal Shani Arrested Over Debt - to Them

The two trustees say Shani owes them NIS 33,000 in fees.

Eyal Shani's court-appointed trustees want the celebrity chef arrested for not paying his debts - namely, their salaries. The two trustees say Shani owes them NIS 33,000 in fees.

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Varda Alshech had ordered Shani to pay the two trustees, Erez Haver and Mordechai Hahn-Markowitz NIS 25,000 a month, starting this past December. She also ordered the chef to place all his revenues from his media enterprises in his bankruptcy account.

Eyal Shani claims his media presence isn’t earning him much.
David Bachar

Haver and Hahn-Markowitz say Shani paid them in full for December, but still owes them NIS 33,000 for January and February.

They say Shani's attorney came up with a "creative argument that bears no resemblance to the court order": that Shani's media revenues went toward that NIS 25,000 monthly fee. This is "a continuation of his serious behavior that knows no limits," said the trustees.

The debts are over a restaurant Shani owned with his ex-wife Rachel Sellem, Oceanus, which failed more than a decade ago, racking up more than NIS 6 million in debt. Sellem filed for bankruptcy, launching the current court case.

Since Oceanus, Shani has gone on to open other successful restaurants, including Abraxas North in Tel Aviv. He is also a judge on the highly popular reality show "Master Chef."

Shani's attorneys petitioned the court on the eve of the Passover holiday, asking to renegotiate the agreement. Shani has no media income, they argued, and his restaurant income isn't high enough to cover the monthly fee. They noted that Shani received a NIS 70,000 bonus from his restaurants due to their profits last year.

In his statement to the court, the chef said his only regular income is the NIS 13,500 monthly salary he receives from his restaurants. He lives in a rented apartment, and doesn't have a car or a bank account, he said.

Shani says he deposited NIS 53,000 in the bankruptcy account for January and February, and another NIS 8,000 in March. He expects to receive two more NIS 8,000 payments for participating in a Channel 8 program, he noted.

Four months ago, the trustees raided the chef's house and the home of his business partner Shahar Segal, after Alshech rejected Shani's proposed agreement for his creditors.

She criticized him at the time, saying, "The phenomenon of people with significant financial means doing acrobatics with the law and court orders has become a plague."