The brink of success

After eight years teaching cooking in her home, Lisa Brink is embarking on a new venture.

Lisa Brink. ‘I’ve always been lucky in having turned my hobby into a career.’ (photo credit: Courtesy)
Lisa Brink. ‘I’ve always been lucky in having turned my hobby into a career.’
(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘I was ready for a change,” says popular cooking teacher Lisa Brink, who has been holding classes in her Hod Hasharon home for the last eight years – since she made aliya from South Africa in 2006.
From the middle of this month Lisa will be taking up her new job in Ra’anana’s Meatland, where she will add new and exotic ready-made foods to the largely traditional and heimish dishes now available; be available for consultations and to advise customers; run courses; and generally use her training as a marketing expert to turn the store around.
One of the changes she plans to bring Meatland into the 21st century is creating a website. “Running a business without a website is like winking in the dark,” she says. “You know you’re doing it, but no one else does.” Using social networking and computers is second nature to Brink, who has a degree from the University of Johannesburg in advertising and marketing.
“Within a short while you’ll be able to see the entire range of products online, check out details of special offers and hopefully order online, too,” Brink says. “I’ll also include the weekly newsletter recipes I’ve been doing for years, thereby creating a virtual recipe book and allowing the user to reduce the clutter in their inbox.”
For the single mother of two, the change will mean she no longer has to use her home as a base for her business by running cooking classes in her own kitchen.
“It was fine when the children were small,” she explains, “but now my daughter is 18 and my son 15, and teaching at home is disruptive for them. They need peace of mind to study and not to have strangers, however friendly they are, coming into the house all the time for cooking lessons.”
Brink is also happy she will no longer have to scrub the floors and clean up into the night, after the students attending her classes have gone home.
“With the new job I won’t feel as isolated as I did, and another bonus is that I won’t have to do the shopping,” she says.
Brink first came to Israel as a 14-year-old with her youth movement, and immediately felt at home.
“I love the warmth of Israel – warmth is its currency – and I felt safe and connected,” she recalls.
She came again at 21, but the Gulf War happened and again she returned to South Africa, met and married her husband, and “got stuck,” as she puts it.
“I was working as a freelance copywriter when my brother got married and had no money for catering,” she says. “I said I would cater it although I never had any training, and I made the wedding for 120 people in Cape Town. I did everything myself, then did another for 150 people in Johannesburg.”
Then, an Israeli friend living in South Africa asked Brink to teach her how to cook. As the daughter of two teachers she found she had a didactic streak, which made her a very good teacher.
“I love sharing,” she says, “and when I get feedback from my students that they’ve succeeded in something I taught, it gives me a great deal of happiness.”
Brink is happy to give credit to her late ex-mother-in-law, who was a very good and creative cook, from whom she learned much.
Her cooking school in South Africa was called Cupcake Academy, a name she looks back on with slight embarrassment. “I didn’t even teach my students how to make cupcakes,” she notes wryly.
In Israel, Brink quickly became known for her Delicious! classes, and still uses the name – though she dropped the exclamation point some time ago.
A year after arriving here, she divorced, and her ex-husband returned to South Africa. It did not take long for her to find her “amazing partner” of six years, an English graphic artist whom she met on JDate.
“I hadn’t been on the site for longer than 24 hours, and he was the first person I met,” she says. “That was it.”
Although she has given up the classes at home, she will continue with another very popular part of her activities – providing the results of her intensive market research on her Delicious Deals site.
“I go to five or six different supermarkets and compare the prices of the same products in each, then I publish my results,” Brink says. “If I find a new restaurant or product, I like to share and tell people about it. I find Facebook is a great platform to share.”
Brink finds belonging to a social group of 35 other professional English- speakers – known as Esh – to be a great help, as a support group and go-to address for personal interconnections.
“We became quite a powerful body as a group,” she says. “So much so that candidates in recent elections came to address us. It’s become like a family.”
With her signature corkscrew curls, she will soon be a familiar face in Meatland, already very popular with Anglo immigrants.
As to the curls, Brink confided that she used to expend hours of energy straightening her unruly hair, until she worked out that she would have spent two years of her life on them – and decided to accept what nature had bestowed upon her.
“My aim has always been to teach dishes that are quick and easy, and don’t require too many ingredients but look impressive,” she concludes. “I’ve always been lucky in having turned my hobby into a career, and being able to work at what I love.”