About 10 years ago when the food truck craze was mostly just an idea, Chef Avi Shemtov was ready to roll, literally. His Chubby Chickpea Food Truck was one of the first on the streets of Boston. And from it he was serving up some of the best Israeli street food this side of Tel Aviv. He still does. Fast forward to this year 2019 or 5780 on the Hebrew calendar, and you'll find that Avi has kicked up his food a notch, with his brand-new brick and mortarrestaurant. Simcha, located just south of Boston in Sharon, MA.

WGBH host/anchor Henry Santoro interviewed Shemtov about the new restarant. The interview below was slightly edited for clarity.

Henry Santoro: You started thinking about the concept for Simcha over five years ago, taking diners on a global journey of Israeli food. Now, with a food truck, you're limited with what you can serve, but now with a brick and mortar restaurant the sky is the limit. How did the two foods differ?

Avi Shemtov: So honestly, Simcha was pragmatically born five years ago when we were, we were kind of looking at the crossroads right now with the chickpea food truck. And we talked about whether we wanted to kind of brand rebrand ourselves, change things up a little bit. But with a food truck, there's only so much you can do. Especially price point-wise. So, we knew we wanted to go whole animal, we knew we wanted to be sustainable, we knew we wanted local produce, and we just kind of looked at it and said, there's no way to do that with a mobile truck. I guess, like, you knowm this is the restaurant business; we decided to just beef up the Chubby Chickpea and grow that to a point where we could open Simcha. [It's] not risk free; everything has risks, but at the same time, going in from a position of strength. So Simcha is a journey that's born out of the Chickpea, but with kind of a mission that the Chickpea always had.

Henry Santoro: You are a restaurant guy. Your dad had several restaurants. Your mom certainly knows her way around the kitchen. Your dad was born in Israel and he met your mom here in the States. They've got to be very proud of this project?

Avi Shemtov: You know the funny thing is my Dad, I love my Dad to death, but my dad is just like a certain personality. And so, he never compliments anything, it’s always negative. He came to friends and family at Simcha. And I've been telling everybody I'm like it's the first time that all he said was, "Wow the food's really good." He didn't have anything bad to say. I don't know if that's a mark of vast departure, that I've gone on from the things he knows, or if it's just a sign that we've arrived. But yeah, My Dad seems proud, and they’re coming to dinner tonight and they called to make reservations.

Henry Santoro: Where did you travel for inspiration?

Avi Shemtov: Obviously, Israel. And one of the most inspiring cities I've been to was Richmond, Virginia. I'm not a front house guy. I've been in the restaurant industry my entire life and I've never worked front of house. But I've always been a people person, and I was in sales right out of college. But honestly, I don't even know the name of the restaurant in Richmond, Virginia, where a friend took me about a year and a half ago. And when I left that place, I said that’s the front house at a place that I want to own.

Henry Santoro: As Jews traveled around Europe, Asia and Africa they brought their flavors with them wherever they went. In Sharon, you have access to some great local flavors, namely your neighbors at Ward's Berry Farm.

Avi Shemtov: Yeah, they're great people first and foremost. Growing up in Sharon it's like they were like celebrities. So sometimes, I sometimes go, "Wow, I'm like texting with the guy that owns Ward’s Berry Farm." They're cool very cool people and I always joke with them when I'm in their cooler and say, "You guys have more say on my menu than I do."

Henry Santoro: Yes, it’s one of my favorite local farms. You’ve got to be so ambitious to do a daily menu?

Avi Shemtov: Yeah. I think anybody that really knows me will tell you like my greatest strength and fault, is my ambition for sure.

Henry Santoro: Avi Shemtov is chef and owner of Simcha, 307 South Street in Sharon. And of course, the Chubby Chickpea food truck is still rolling along. Avi So great to see you.

Avi Shemtov: Thank you for having me.