Flavor of the month: Kitchen on the go

Oded Fisher lives his dream with Bamixer

Oded Fisher 521 (photo credit: Amnon Tam)
Oded Fisher 521
(photo credit: Amnon Tam)
If you get a ride somewhere with Oded Fisher, you’ll probably have to make room in the car somewhere between his oven, mixer, burners and boxes of bowls, spoons and whisks. That’s because Fisher is often traveling with his portable kitchen, on his way to teach baking and confectionery courses throughout the country.
Fisher, 28, is the proprietor of “Bamixer,” which offers workshops and classes in everything from breads to cakes, cookies, pies, petit fours, mousses and ice cream. From eight-session comprehensive courses to one-time lessons for birthdays, bar mitzvas or office events, Fisher will bring his expertise – and his kitchen – to you.
The father of three never imagined he would work professionally in the world of food, even though “I’ve been making hallot for Shabbat since I was 10 years old,” he says. Instead, he saw himself as a scientist, and enrolled in the Jerusalem College of Technology to study electro-optics after his army service. But during a break one summer, he took a two-month course on a whim at the Te’amim cooking school in Jerusalem, and was hooked. He went back to the college for another semester before realizing he needed to follow his culinary dreams.
“My family thought I was really really crazy,” he says, “and they tried to talk me out of it.” But Fisher could not be dissuaded, and he took a job at Lechem Shel Tomer in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood.
“I was married already and didn’t have the time or money to go to professional studying,” says Fisher. But he quickly learned on the job, becoming an expert in sourdoughs, baguettes, ryes, whole grains and focaccias. “Tomer taught me everything.”
But the hours were difficult and unpredictable, the work was backbreaking and he was almost never home. After two years making breads and other pastries there, Fisher left to join the Luciana restaurant on Emek Refaim Street in Jerusalem, only about a month after it opened in 2008. Together with another pastry chef, he created the bread and pastry menu for the restaurant. While he was there, he started taking more courses in pastry, as well as a third-year science course at the Hebrew University titled “Useful Microbiology,” which enabled him to combine his love of baking and science.
“It was amazing, I learned a lot about yeast and bacteria and how to store and keep food,” he says. “I’m probably the pastry chef who knows the most about bacteria. My whole method is scientific – I cannot make something that I do not understand to the tiniest detail.” He also began teaching for the first time, when Te’amim was looking for a male instructor for a course geared towards haredim.
After a couple of years at Luciana, Fisher followed his urge to open his own business.
“I wanted to be independent,” he says, “but I didn’t want to open my own bakery, which is very hard to do.” So he decided to couple his love of teaching with his love of pastry, and opened Bamixer in early 2010. Having a portable kitchen, he says, allows him to go anywhere to teach – all he needs is electricity, tables and a sink. His classes – which are certified kosher mehadrin by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, the chief rabbi of the Har Bracha settlement, where Fisher lives – can focus on a specific area like breads, cookies or ice creams, or follow a set menu. He also teaches six-lesson courses in breads at Galia Cakes with Galia Agayev, whom he met when she taught at Te’amim. While most of his classes are conducted in Hebrew, he is also open to running them in English upon request.
Fisher continues to take courses in professional pastry, including one he began this week in chocolate making. He also wants to take classes in candy making, and is always seeking ways to bring science into the kitchen.
“Whenever I find something I don’t know how to do, I want to go learn,” he says. “I really like to do new things. I’m in contact with a food scientist at the Weizmann Institute [of Science in Rehovot] – I ask her many questions about food.” Fisher once even brought liquid nitrogen to his course on ice-cream making.
Over the past few months he has been focusing on online lessons, offering instructional videos, webinars and recipes, available via his mailing list, which has more than 1,500 subscribers. He stresses that all his teaching is geared to amateur cooks, and seeks to make things as accessible as possible.
“I always tell people in the course that you can use whatever [ingredients] you find in the supermarket,” he says.
Bamixer is a family affair, and Fisher’s wife serves as his manager, graphic designer and all-around right hand. Even his six-year-old daughter is in on the game, helping him weigh ingredients, and becoming an expert like her dad.
“When she went to kindergarten,” he says, “one Friday they made halla for Shabbat, and she said, ‘What, there’s no rolling pin?’”