09 Jun Exploring the Land of Milk and Honey through Masa
When Talia was looking to leave her comfort zone, she couldn’t think of a better place to do it than in Israel, the land of milk and honey. A trained chef in classical French cuisine, Talia had planned to participate in a Masa Israel Journey program in Israel a few years ago, but then COVID hit. She ended up staying in London, working at a restaurant under a well-known Israeli chef, but still yearned to visit Israel in-depth and explore its food scene.
“Cooking is my passion and I love my Jewish identity almost as much as I love cooking,” said Talia. “Bringing young Jews from across the world to Israel to build their careers and deepen their passion for Israel and Judaism – Masa ticked all my boxes. And with the craziness of the past 18+ months, I felt I needed to try something new.”
Talia ran her own successful catering business in London and wanted to learn about Israeli food properly, from Israeli chefs, in Israel. But as a seasoned professional, she also wanted to be able to actually earn money. So after initially starting out as a Destination Israel 2021-22 participant, which would’ve had her serving as an intern in Israel, she realized Masa Remote Work would be a better fit.
“With Masa Remote Work, I could have my job in London and still come to Israel, and engage in Masa activities with other young professionals. But it wasn’t so easy though to bring my catering business here since it really relied on word of mouth, and in Israel, I was an unknown,” admitted Talia.
So Talia went back to basics: she messaged Sababa cookbook author Adeena Sussman on Instagram and asked if she needed help, then started working for Adeena twice a week, helping with recipe development for a new cookbook. Talia also worked at a few local restaurants to make money. And through it all, Masa supported Talia, helping her get a visa and offering resources.
“Masa has been so amazing to me. They let me change tracks and got me situated very quickly,” said Talia. “Because coming here, I was blindsided about Israel. I’d been here lots of times on various trips so I knew Israel and Tel Aviv as holiday destinations, places to travel to. But now I’m living here and it’s very different. So I feel very lucky to have Masa behind me.”
Despite the challenges of finding a job in Israel and adjusting to Israeli society, Talia wouldn’t change a thing about her experience.
“Israel is a land of hope, opportunity and endless energy, and my time here over the past year has been a dream come true. I’ve gotten to work with really cool people at cool restaurants that are breaking the mold of what restaurants are supposed to be,” Talia shared. “Thanks to Masa, I’ve been able to experience the best of Israel at breakneck speed and indulge in all it has to offer.”