Food has had a central place in Galya Sarner’s life for as long as she can remember.
“While growing up in Israel, every occasion was an opportunity to share together the tasting and enjoyment of great food, especially in connection with the weekly Shabbat dinner, Jewish holidays and major family events,” says Sarner.
“Food is a celebration of life. It’s such a vital part of Israeli culture and Jewish tradition, and it’s so much a part of my family life to this day.”
In her pre-COVID life, Sarner did a little catering and a few culinary workshops … while secretly dreaming of turning her passion for Israeli food into a business someday. When she was laid off during the pandemic, she knew it was time to hit the kitchen. Who better to join her on this adventure than her own daughter, interior designer Shani Sarner-Lati?
“Given my mom’s amazing talent in the kitchen and her passion for food, it always seemed to me inevitable that one way or another, her culinary creativity would lead to something substantial,” says Sarner-Lati.
The pair set to work plotting the perfect products to premiere with their new line, Galya Loves Food, with Sarner-Lati creating the brand’s minimalist jar packaging and branding. The duo’s first star product was Sarner’s famed Jerusalem Hummus, which is crafted using the recipe that was passed down from her mother and grandmother in Jerusalem.
On the savoury side, other standouts include tangy sundried-tomato spread and smoky roasted eggplant, while roasted pecans and date cookies should satisfy any sweet tooths.
“Each time we decide on a new product, it always stems from what foods we miss from Israel,” says Sarner-Lati.
You can taste the love in these handcrafted delights (it’s even listed on each label!) — and the freshness.
“Part of what makes Israeli food so unique and delicious is the creative use of fresh ingredients, a variety of herbs and spices and lots of vegetables,” says Sarner. (They don’t use preservatives, either.)
Sarner is happy that so many different folks enjoy their Israeli cuisine.
“Some people say our food brings back memories of what they enjoyed eating when living in or visiting Israel,” she says. “The other type of reaction that’s great to hear is when people tell us that they’ve discovered Israeli food and now love it thanks to having tried one of our products.”
Mom and daughter are also sharing the love and teaching a new legion of cooks right from Sarner’s Forest Hill kitchen, beaming out Israeli cooking classes via Zoom to members of organizations like the Schwartz/Reisman Centre in Toronto, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and Limmud Ottawa.
Whether it’s trying new treats or revisiting old favourites, food has been one of the greatest joys of the pandemic for many.
“Given the reality people are dealing with, simple pleasures have taken on a greater importance in people’s lives,” says Sarner-Lati. “Good, healthy, tasty and authentic food has become a greater source of joy.”
For Sarner, food now brings her more joy than ever, thanks to the extra time she gets to spend with her daughter on Galya Loves Food.
“For me, working together with one of my children on building this business has been one of the most exciting and meaningful journeys in my life,” she says. “There’s a special satisfaction when you achieve something by working together as a family.”