Webinar with Inspiring Alumni: Culinary during and after the COVID Pandemic
The Tel Aviv University Alumni Organization, headed by Sigalit Ben Hayoun, is currently celebrating its fifth anniversary and continues the tradition of meetings with inspiring alumni who has "made it". In an active community of over 85,000 alumni, inspiring people can be found from almost every field of research, activity and influence, but this meeting was a particularly delicious and surprising.
The organization invited the TAU Alumni community to a culinary-zoom-experiential event with four alumni, all well-known in the field of culinary:
- Yuval Ben Neriah, chef and owner of the Taizu Group, who studied at the TAU Faculty of Humanities
- Dushi (Andrea) Leitersdorf, Owner of House of Dallal, alumna of the TAU Faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences
- Asaf Abir, author of "Not Another Cookbook" which deals with the science and art of the perfect bite
- Dr. Yasmine Meroz, Principal Investigator of the Meroz Lab of Growing Systems & Plant Behaviour at the TAU School of Plant Sciences and Food Security, alumna of the TAU Faculty of Exact Sciences.
Asaf, a man of words, skipped between the three panelists lightly as he navigated the conversation between campus memories, flavors, boxes and deliveries.
Yuval Ben Neriah revealed that both his parents are both Medical doctors who are TAU Alumni as well. "My parents agreed that I would become a chef, but insisted that I should first get a degree, which was very difficult. I was always behind, and to this day I have not completed my degree."
Dushi, on the other hand, admitted: "I’m a nerd and always was one. I skipped the big post-military service trip around the world, enrolled in TAU and studied through 12 years and 4 degrees."
Yasmine, on the other hand, chose an academic career, and with a background in physics, she currently researches plant behavior and communication between plants, using methods from the world of physics.
Dushi and Yuval agreed on much of COVID’s effect on restaurants and on where the industry is headed. They admitted that a different and new experience had developed, of consuming boxed takeaways. "The new takeaway allows us to preserve both our manpower, our teams, and also maintain our reputation," they said.
Asaf asked the restaurateurs ‘Will anything change after it's all over? Did the pandemic teach people to understand the role of restaurants?
Yuval: "Two genres will stay strong - fine dining at one end, and street food at the other end. People who started cooking at home now understand the cost of fish and appreciate the high prices better."
Dushi: "COVID has brought with it new emphases, and if you are optimistic enough, alert enough, you can turn lemons not only into lemonade but also caipirinha: To meet the challenge, get the best out of the situation, while practicing creativity, responsibility and efficiency."
"Just like trees," Yasmine mentioned, "if they feel threatened by strong winds they stop growing high and instead grow in width, allowing them to become stronger and survive. In general, plants excel at adapting to harsh and unpredictable environments, and know how to survive periods of drought, pandemics and fires. They are doing something right, and we still have what to learn from them”. By the way, she admitted that the COVID era taught her to bake homemade bread, and if that doesn't work, you can always order from Dallal.
During the second part of the event, Yuval Ben Neriah took over for a practical “Cook-Along” workshop for preparing the "Chef's Dish" - filet of Sparus aurata or Sea Bass with tomato curry and yogurt.
Among the alumni who tuned in to watch the live webinar:
Adi Gura, Partner at the Braverman Gallery, Tedy Kratenstein, Senior Executive at Dell Technologies, Michael Levkovitch, Owner and CEO of Tea and Lemon Ltd., Amir Fishler, CEO at Netivot Yetzira Real Estate, Mashav Balsam, Co-Founder & COO at TechedUp, Sharona Sagi, VP Product at Exlibris, Amir Wagner, Co-Founder and CEO of Respect Branding, and more.