A marketable skill

Chef Tali Friedman conducts guided tours of Mahaneh Yehuda.

tali friedman mahane yehuda 248 88 (photo credit: Maya Spitzer)
tali friedman mahane yehuda 248 88
(photo credit: Maya Spitzer)
Tali Friedman is the house chef for Te'amim, the Mahaneh Yehuda Shuk Canion Cooking School on Rehov Agrippas. "Most of my work is for the culinary stores in Mahaneh Yehuda," the attractive, dark-haired woman explains. "The market is a very romantic place for me. I love the smells, the colors. The quality [of the produce] is really high. That is why I really love it!" In her 33 years, Friedman has done a lot in the field of food. She was born in Safed and grew up with her grandparents, who came from Morocco. "We had a guest house, and my grandmother used to cook for everyone. Basically, I grew up in her kitchen." When she was older, Friedman moved to Jerusalem with her mother, where she attended high school at Gymnasia Rehavia. At age 19 she married her husband, who is a lawyer. When she decided to study food seriously, she entered the Hadassah College Culinary program and worked for eight months at the capital's renowned Arcadia restaurant. After she received her certificate in 1998, she went to Paris to take courses at the Lenotre cooking school, where she studied baking, patisserie and fish preparation. After she received her certificate for the six-month course, she returned to Jerusalem to work as a cook with Eyal Shani at the now defunct Ocean on Rehov Rivlin. "I was the only woman in the kitchen for one year," she says. From there she went to work at Shmuli (now called Mona). The following year, she worked as a sous chef at La Regence in the King David Hotel. Three years ago Friedman, a mother of three, started teaching a group of women, focusing mainly on fish. "I took them to Mahaneh Yehuda and discovered I could do a lot in the market," she says. At about the same time, she began teaching at Te'amim, the school founded 10 years ago by Yuval Atias, the chef under whom she had studied at Hadassah College. "I spend most of my time leading culinary tours. We buy ingredients and go back to class and cook together," she says. She also works at David Dagim, a fish vendor in Mahaneh Yehuda, where she makes ceviche and carpaccio. What are some of her favorite places on the tour? One is Bashar, a cheese shop that carries more than 860 varieties of cheese, which the owner imports himself. Another favorite is Itzik, who imports olives from Greece and sells a wide variety of cheese and wine. As for bread, "The best bakery in Jerusalem is Talar's on Agrippas," she asserts. People line up every evening at 6:45 when all leftover loaves are offered at half price. Friedman's culinary dream is to "create a business doing something with the shuk. We have the best market in all Israel!" she exclaims. "I want to be inside the shuk, maybe a small house in the market, where people will come and I can cook with them. Not a restaurant but something more unique." That dream is about to come true this summer. "I'm opening a studio on Rehov Mahaneh Yehuda, where I will perform my culinary activities. The tours will take place in the market, and I will give cooking lessons in my big studio kitchen. This is my dream!" she says. Regarding her work as house chef for the Shuk Canion Cooking School, she says, "I'm still teaching but doing less and less. Now I'm going to be independent."