Gerda’s Kitchen - The best vegan food I have ever tasted

The power behind the brand belongs to Hagit Elazar Bergman, who, until a few months ago, had never considered opening a catering establishment.

Gerda's (photo credit: GILAD ELAZAR)
(photo credit: GILAD ELAZAR)
Over the years I have become quite a connoisseur of vegan food, with several family members who eat only vegan. So I can say with confidence that the cuisine from Gerda’s Kitchen is the best vegan food I have ever tasted.
The power behind the brand belongs to Hagit Elazar Bergman, who, until a few months ago, had never considered opening a catering establishment. A graduate of the Hebrew University’s nutrition course, she had run diet support groups as a young mother of two children, later switching to work as a pharmaceutical representative.
Fate, in the shape of a new director of the company, intervened.
She was fired after 25 years in the same company.
“I was in shock,” says Hagit. “I’ve always had a strong work ethic and I knew I must find something else. I’d done a course in interior design and wondered about that. Then I had a eureka moment.”
She knew of many families where the children had become vegan, and the mothers had no idea how to cater to them.
“They want to feed their children but have no idea where to begin,” she says. “I decided I would make the best-quality vegan food, using the finest ingredients.”
She began to read up on the subject, and collected a file of 367 recipes. The house near Kfar Saba where she lives has a large and handy kitchen where everything is made by Hagit, without any outside help.
And so to the food. The first dish we tasted was a quiche, which was as aesthetic as it was tasty, the pastry crispy and the filling, made from chopped mangold leaves and mushrooms, quite delicious. The crisscross strips of pastry created squares, each decorated with a grilled cherry tomato half (NIS 58).
I was curious to know how she made the pastry without using eggs.
“It’s whole wheat spelt flour, high-quality olive oil, a drop of vinegar, baking powder and Atlantic salt, all mixed by hand,” she explains.
The cauliflower salad was also very good. The vegetable had been roasted in florets in the oven, but stayed crunchy, and the lemony dressing, slightly sweetened with silan, included poppy seeds and sliced almonds. (All side dishes NIS 24.)
Next up was “goulash,” chunks of what looked and tasted like meat in a rich gravy with diced potato and carrots (NIS 56).
“I marinate all the soy meat for many hours with cumin, paprika, black pepper and salt to absorb the spices,” she says.
A favorite addition is a bay leaf, fresh and picked from the tree in her garden.
I always like to ask a chef if they use soup powder. Hagit looked horrified.
“I won’t have it in the kitchen,” she says. “I make a big pot of vegetable stock, and freeze it in jars.”
“Ragout Bolognese” consisted of very wide noodles with a mince sauce which really was impossible to distinguish from the real thing (NIS 52).
Yet another dish was the ubiquitous “schnitzel,” this one made from soy, dipped in spelt and chick pea flour, then sesame seeds. This was also very good and looked and tasted like regular schnitzel.
The “shwarma” in pita was quite amazing, and Hagit shared her secret.
“It’s made from soya, but I boil it for 20-30 minutes, then rinse it, and it basically has no taste or smell,” she says. “Then I can flavor it how I want, with plenty of herbs and spices, a lot of fried onion, and a long time marinating.” 
Finally the name. Why Gerda’s Kitchen?
Explains Hagit, “Sadly my father was drowned while scuba diving in the Philippines where we had gone on shlihut [as emissaries]. I was 10 years old. My mother came back to Kfar Saba and my grandmother also moved from Ramat Gan to be near us and help my mother raise us. She was very strong – a real Yekke – but I really loved her, so it’s my way of paying her a small tribute.”
Gerda’s Kitchen
Tel: 054-475-8971
Deliveries: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Sharon district