Galya Loves Food grew out of what is becoming a familiar pandemic pivot story — one in which a long-time personal passion transforms into a successful business. Born in Jerusalem, Galya Sarner developed an interest in food at a young age when she began learning to cook from her mother.
“Since I learned how to walk, I spent hours with her in the kitchen,” says Sarner. She later refined her hands-on training, taking formal culinary courses while living in Paris.
After settling in midtown Toronto, Sarner occasionally hosted food workshops and offered catering services in her free time. After being laid off from her job as a result of the pandemic however, she took an opportunity to package and sell her hummus at local bakery Aba’s Bagel Company.
“The owner, Arie, really opened a door for us,” says Sarner.
With the help of her husband Robert and daughter Shani, her company, Galya Loves Food, soon blossomed into a thriving, family-run business.
“It’s just been word of mouth and, in a natural way, it has grown and developed,” says Robert.
Galya Loves Food now offers a line-up of homestyle, Israeli dips, snacks and sweets made with natural ingredients, including the signature Jerusalem hummus.
“We package it in a jar, but we tried to bring the same experience and taste that you get when you have hummus in Israel,” says Shani, adding that her mom continues to pick all of the ingredients by hand herself, even as the business expands.
“We cook the chickpeas in a traditional way,” says Sarner. “It’s a long process, but it’s very rewarding. There’s a special aroma when we get the flavour we want. It’s an exciting moment.”
Labaneh, fresh-baked falafel and gluten-free date cookies are among the other items available.
“Most of the recipes are based on the traditional roots of my childhood, which we further developed,” says Sarner. “We have our own interpretation. Toronto is very inspiring. It’s a fusion culinary world here.” The mother-daughter culinary team is continually adding new products to the Galya Loves Food line-up, often inspired by the foods they miss most from Israel.
The family largely credits their success to community drive to support small, local businesses amid the pandemic. They’re already finding ways to give back, partnering with charitable organizations like Seeds of Hope.
“We want to share our love of food,” says Sarner.
Orders can be placed online or their products can be found at an ever-growing roster of retailers, including Brodflour, Coco Market, Mimi and Ry Produce, select What a Bagel and Greenhouse Juice Co. locations, as well as the 100 Mile Store in Creemore, Ont.