This week, I was fortunate enough to interview Chanah Auerbach, a raw vegan chef here in Israel. I got a great insight into what Chanah has been through that brought her to where she is today, what she does as a vegan chef in Israel, and also about the culinary culture in this wonderful country.
Israel is a melting pot – pun intended. So much of the Israeli population is made up of olim, the Israeli word for immigrants who came to settle in Israel. All olim come to Israel with their own cultures, customs, and most importantly, cuisines. When people think about “Israeli food”, most will think about falafel, shawarma, shakshuka, hummus, tahina, and maybe the occasional sabich. What most don’t realize is that those foods come from all over the Mediterranean and not originally from Israel. They made it here with olim many years ago, and today, too, olim are bringing their authentic cuisines with them to Israel from everywhere – the Americas, India, Italy, Morocco, and so many more.
Meeting Chanah Auerbach – Israeli Raw Vegan Chef Eextraordinaire
I myself had never really thought about this too much, until I was given the opportunity to hear the amazing story of Chanah Auerbach. Chanah started her journey in Denver, where she attended culinary school and worked for several years. About nine years ago, Chanah grew very ill, yet no doctor could diagnose the issue. She made the decision to go raw, and after about a year and a half of eating raw only foods, Chanah got healthy. The miraculous cure to her illness inspired her to move to California and start a raw food restaurant at Whole Foods at Venice beach as well as work as a healthy eating specialist.
Chanah met Nir and Guy, Puzzle Israel’s awesome co-founders, on a trip she took to Israel several years ago. Nir and Guy doIsraeli Kitchen Encounter events (cooking workshops) across the USA every time they visit, so Chanah, as a chef, helped them organize an Israeli Kitchen Encounter event in Denver. The connection she made to Nir and Guy became even more substantial when Chanah made aliyah in 2013. When Chanah arrived in Israel, she began working as a chef at Mitzpe Alumot, a physical and spiritual cleansing center in the North of Israel. From there, she moved to Jerusalem and began working for Start Up Roots, an organization bringing hydroponic farming and healthy eating styles to schools in Israel and across the world. Through Start Up Roots, Chanah was able to get through to a group of Haredi school girls, and teach them the importance of healthy eating. From then on, Chanah became a frequent freelance chef at a Haredi girls school, helping to change the menu and outlook on food in the Haredi community in Jerusalem.
How “Cook-With” Came About
After doing this work, Chanah came to realize that there are so many olim that live in Israel and have cultural cuisines and cooking styles that aren’t being taught to others. She, along with her business partner Julia Miller, decided to remedy this problem with Cook-With, a company whose goal is to spread the multicultural food scene in Israel. Cook-With does this through cooking workshops around the country in the homes of multi-cultural chefs. They bring tourists and locals alike to learn about the many cuisines in the Israeli melting pot, as well as get hands on experience in the actual homes of the chefs, which makes the cultural experience even more powerful. The program has been super successful so far, teaching tourists and locals not just to eat cultural cuisines, but also how to make them and appreciate them.
Cook-With & Puzzle Israel
Puzzle Israel is honored and excited to work with Cook-With, and looks forward to offering workshops to groups coming to tour in Israel. Cook With embodies Puzzle Israel’s idea of Israeli tourism – getting a hands on experience of true Israeli culture through the versatile eyes of Israelis of all backgrounds.