Go on, take a healthy mouthful

Chef Noam Deckers raises takeout to a higher level at Bisaleh.

Noam Deckers. ‘I love fresh, uncomplicated food.' (photo credit: TAL SIVAN TZIPOREN)
Noam Deckers. ‘I love fresh, uncomplicated food.'
(photo credit: TAL SIVAN TZIPOREN)
What’s for dinner, mom? What, frozen schnitzel again? Cooking from scratch doesn’t work for people with overloaded schedules, even if they know that industrially produced food isn’t the best thing. Chef Noam Deckers, 39, fills the gap with healthy, tasty takeaway at Bisaleh in Ramat Hahayal. It’s fast food with no nutrition guilt.
Bisaleh has only been open two months, but the place is already jumping with customers. Local office workers, neighbors, families, the old and young – all stream in and out. Some even come from Ra’anana and Hadera.
It must have something to do with Deckers’s rural roots and love of nature, which his all-natural food reflects.
A third-generation son of Moshav Sde Warburg, Deckers left the farm for Tel Aviv only a year and a half ago. “My grandparents were among the founders of the moshav,” he says with some pride.
“I’m not one of those who grew up under mama’s apron, although food has always interested me and we ate well at home. I play jazz guitar and as a youngster, I always thought that music would be my path.”
But Deckers decided to explore a new direction after finishing his army service.
“I took my discharged soldier stipend and enrolled in the Ruppin College cooking school,” he remembers. Finishing his courses there, he worked as cook and sous chef at Mul Yam, Lehem Erez and other restaurants.
As career cooks do, he traveled to learn more, sharpening his skills at high-end restaurants in France and Germany. On his return, he worked as a chef at the Barcarola restaurant in Kfar Saba.
Life took yet another turn for Deckers when he became chef at Liliyot, a restaurant where at-risk kids participate in a training program to gain mainstream workplace skills. “I worked there fourand- a-half years and wore two hats: manager of the training program and chef,” he says of that formative experience.
Completing a business management course, he decided to develop his own food service, combining a personal culinary philosophy with his cooking and management skills. As the business grows, he intends to employ people who are traditionally difficult to hire: at-risk kids, and older people considered overqualified for other work or who have fallen between the cracks in the workforce.
“We want to stay with the idea of social work, as in Liliyot. Our team is small right now, but we’re always expanding and expect to need more staff as we grow.”
By “we” Deckers means his partner in life and business, Dafna, whom he met in cooking school. The couple shares a particular outlook on food. “Our three principles are healthy, tasty and fresh.
No artificial flavors, preservatives or processed additives. Lots of vegetables and high-quality proteins. We don’t work with flour, except for spelt flour in three or four products. Only a few dairy dishes, and no sugar at all. Adding salt is up to the customer. We emphasize freshness: the freshest vegetables and fish, beef and chicken.”
And all this at affordable prices. Deckers explains, “It sounds strange to hear ‘affordable’ with all this fresh produce, but if it’s done right, it’s possible.”
Indeed, it is easy to appreciate the difference between a chain-store hamburger that will cost NIS 50 to NIS 60 per serving, and an entree of turkey breast in honey, ginger and soy sauce for NIS 24 at Bisaleh.
“You also never know what’s in those foods,” says Deckers, “while our online menu offers all the information on our ingredients.
Transparency is really important.”
When asked what he eats at home, Deckers says, “Honestly, just simple, tasty food, like what we serve at Bisaleh. I love fresh, uncomplicated food. Dafna and I follow a diet that’s about 90-percent ‘paleo’ – lots of vegetables, fatty fish, some meat and animal fats. Very little dairy and almost no carbohydrates. We don’t eat wheat flour or cereals and pulses.
Personally, I hardly ever touch chicken. I dropped 20 kg. eating this way. My energy and vitality are much higher since we started the paleo diet.
“It’s a way of life,” he continues, “a minimalist way of looking at things, a search for a simpler way to be.”
Deckers is divorced with two children, aged 11 and 14. “My kids go back and forth between my house and their mother’s, but they don’t have a problem with my food. I don’t force them to eat anything, that wouldn’t work. And they like our food just fine. For example, I’ve had a loaf of bread in the freezer for the past two months. They know it’s there, but don’t ask for it. There’s always plenty to eat here.
Pondering what he would have done if life had taken a different turn, he says, “If I weren’t a chef, I’d work in music or agriculture.
I’m very attached to nature and growing things. At Bisaleh I have many herbs and vegetables growing in containers; I grew up in an agricultural moshav, after all.”
Bisaleh isn’t kosher but kosher-style; that is, dairy dishes are cooked, stored and served separately. Used to working in a kosher kitchen at Liliyot, Deckers is considering getting kashrut supervision for Bisaleh in the future.
Bisaleh takes orders at (03) 654-2888 16 David Marcus Street Ramat Hahayal, Tel Aviv Sunday-Thursday: 11:30 a.m.- 7p.m.
Friday: 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.