Tom Franz, who won the coveted title of “Master Chef” during the 3rd season of Israel’s version of the culinary hit TV show, is a unique and fascinating personality.
Franz, 41, was born in Cologne, Germany into a Catholic family. At 16, through a high school student exchange program with Israel, Tom for the first time in his life met Israeli teenagers. He immediately fell in love with their temperament and decided to visit the Jewish State, as an adventure seeking teenager.
At 22, after an apprenticeship in a private bank, he spent 18 months in Israel volunteering in a local Israeli hospital through “Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste” (the equivalent of National Service), an experience that left a distinct impression upon the young man.
Franz then returned to Germany, studied law and worked as an attorney in a prominent international law firm. However, Franz still yearned for something more… His strong bond with the people of Israel, spurred him at age 30, to return to Israel and convert to Judaism.
From an early age, Franz was also intrigued by the culinary arts and enjoyed dabbling in cooking. His prowess in the kitchen helped him beat thousands of aspiring chefs, who went through the arduous audition process for “Master Chef.” During the long and intense season, where the contestants sometimes had to cook and stay on the set for nearly 20 hours a day, Franz continually impressed the judges and viewers alike (“Master Chef” was consistently ranked #1 in the ratings), as he fulfilled his vision and passion to create sumptuous gourmet KOSHER dishes. As a result, Franz became the first ‘Master Chef’ in the world to win the coveted title based on kosher culinary offerings. The prime-time ratings for the final “Master Chef” cook-off between Franz and 2 other contestants reached an astounding 52%!
Franz’s gastronomic victory resounded all the way back to Germany, where the mass media lauded his poise, talent
and conviction. As a result, Franz published his first cookbook in which highlights his life story alongside his favorite recipes from Israel. The book became a best seller immediately. Franz has a daily TV show in Israel called “Flavors” co-hosted with Ilanit Levi, former beauty queen of Israel. They host local celebrities in Tom’s kitchen where he cooks for them and enjoy a light conversation about their career and food. Franz also offers a private gourmet catering service, cooks on TV shows in Israel and Germany, as well as performing on-location cooking shows, workshops and lectures in both countries. In addition, he is involved in recipe developments for food companies, as well as culinary consulting for a variety of other commercial food business entities, including hotels, restaurants etc.
Franz’s goal is raising the awareness of the rich unique flavors of Israeli cuisine and proving the Kosher food can be excellent and “Gourmet”. Franz lives in Tel Aviv with his wife Dana and sons David and Gabriel.