Outstanding. Phenomenal. Out of this world.
Those are actual consumer descriptions of the products available from Galya Loves Food, a local business run by a mother and daughter team.
Galya Loves Food focuses on Israeli delights such as gourmet hummus, labaneh, eggplant, roasted red peppers, date cookies and halvah mousse.
The business is a serendipitous result of the pandemic.
Galya Sarner was laid off from a job with Toronto’s Israeli community because of COVID shut downs. She decided to work at something she already loves — feeding people.
It just made sense for her daughter, Shani Sarner-Lati, to be part of it. Sarner-Lati is an interior designer, which is why Galya Loves Food items look as good as they taste. Every item is beautifully packaged.
And the two women have always cooked together.
“Shani and I could sit at the table in the kitchen and talk food 24-7,” said Sarner.
“It’s so natural for us,” agreed Sarner-Lati. “Me and my mom are always dancing and singing in the kitchen. It doesn’t ever feel as if we’re working.
“Sometimes mom leads the way, and I’m the sous-chef, and sometimes it’s the other way around —when we introduce new products, and I lead.
“There’s no ego here.”
Galya Sarner was born and raised in Jerusalem and came to Toronto via Paris.
“In Jerusalem I grew up in the heart of the market, until age eight. I inherited the skill and the passion for food from my mother,” she said.
Early in her marriage, Sarner lived in Paris — again, near a market.
“Another landmark in my culinary journey! I mix and match Israeli food with a Parisian touch.”
The name Galya Loves Food was created by her husband, author Robert Sarner. “He told me he created it, ‘because you love food and you love people.’
“Food is love and love is food. That’s what dictates every step Shani and I go through.”
Galya Loves Food started small but picked up an immediate following through word-of-mouth (and mouth-watering Instagram posts).
The products can be found in high-end shops such as Aba’s Bagel Co., What A Bagel (St. Clair Ave. W.), Coco Market, Mimi & Ry Produce and Brodflour;the 100 Mile Store in Creemore also stocks Sarner’s culinary creations.
She credits her success to the support of family and friends, to the consumer demand for quality ingredients and to an increased interest in Israeli cuisine.
Or maybe it’s just that the food she creates is spectacular ( it is) but Sarner is too modest to suggest that. One client had only to taste the labaneh and roasted eggplant Sarner makes before putting with women in touch with a famed local chef.
Before the holidays last year, her daughter created gift baskets (“Joy in a Basket”) because they’d been reminiscing about visiting markets in Israel and filling a basket with food and herbs.
The gift baskets flew off the shelves. One client immediately ordered 20. Both Sarner and her daughter still sound amazed at what happened.
“All we did was post on Instagram and Facebook,” said Sarner.
Word of mouth did the rest.
The quality of Galya Loves Food products is not by chance.
“It is very labour intensive, very challenging,” said Sarner-Lati of their products, which she and her mother still make themselves.
“But we know food brings people together, and so many people love Israeli food as much as we do.”
“It is really time-consuming,” added Sarner. “We care so much about everything. Maybe we care too much — about the food, the appearance, about Israeli food and culture. When someone places an order with us, it’s a whole conversation.”
Hard work, but Sarner said it has given new meaning to her life in these uncertain times.
“You want to share the knowledge and talent and the love behind it,” she said of her food business. “Maybe love is the secret ingredient.”