When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
When life gives you lockdowns, make lokshen pudding.
That’s exactly what Daniel Mednick, a British Israeli, did when COVID hit.
Like so many, Daniel faced an uphill struggle to make ends meet as his Manchester-based travel business floundered at the start of the pandemic, in March 2020.
The repeated lockdowns that followed were equally as challenging for him and his young family, stuck at home, day after day with no apparent end in sight.
Finding ways to keep busy and sane led to him spending more and more time in the kitchen, where he spent many hours trying out new recipes for fun. Sometimes his wife, Rena, helped him; other times, she left him to it.
Creating different dishes from around the world
Creating dishes from around the world gave him the most pleasure; and that’s how it all started – with a homemade curry.
Having made far too much of this new Indian dish, Daniel decided to share it with friends and family, and the feedback he got was incredible.
Getting your hands on a good, kosher curry in Israel is a rarity. One may even be forgiven for thinking that the two are mutually exclusive. This problem, which seems to afflict Brits living in Israel with some frequency, was solved by Daniel and his homemade curry, with many of his friends encouraging him to start selling his Indian delicacies.
Buoyed by this positive feedback, Daniel offered an Indian meal deal on his local community Kiryat Hasharon Facebook group: nan bread, curry and rice for NIS 35.
To his and his wife’s utter amazement, he received 80 orders in the first 10 minutes of the post going live, increasing to 140 after an hour.
And the orders kept coming.
Due to the lockdown, collections had to be carefully planned to ensure everyone adhered to the rules by wearing masks and keeping their distance.
It seems that Daniel had tapped into a gaping hole in people’s lives. As eating out was strictly off-limits at the time, the opportunity to buy good, homemade food relieved the boredom of the daily grind for many.
To spice things up a bit, Daniel offered a different takeaway meal each week, thus expanding his repertoire and his customer base as the pandemic continued.
Before long, he was in the kitchen for at least 12 hours a day, cooking up some delicious dish or other.
Unlike many other COVID-inspired companies, his business continued to flourish long after the pandemic died out and MUNCH WITH MEDS was created.
His Shabbat meals were especially popular and are now legendary in his hometown, Netanya, where he provides the largest Shabbat home catering service.
TO SATISFY demand, Daniel’s Thursdays are akin to a military operation, with everything meticulously planned beforehand. Apart from the salads, which Rena prepares, he makes everything himself.
When I asked him how he did it, he simply replied, “organization is key.”
I tried to probe him further to find out where he learned how to cook. As someone who struggles in this regard, I was hoping he would give me some tips, but sadly, that wasn’t to be.
He did, however, offer to drop round a few “tasters” to supplement my own Friday night dinner. Naturally, I readily agreed, eager to find out what all the fuss was about, and to add a bit of variety to the usual Shabbat fare on offer in my house; rubber chicken, roast potatoes, peas and carrots, followed by apple crumble (if you’re lucky).
When Daniel arrived, all smiley-faced and business-like with my package on Friday morning, I was a bit taken aback. So far from a few “tasters” being on the menu, he’d provided us with a family meal!
We started with chicken soup and kneidels. Now, if there’s one thing I’m good at it’s this dish, although judging by the oohs and aahs around the table as we all tucked into this course, his soup eclipsed my own. “Can you ask him for the recipe?” one of the children had the temerity to ask. My husband thought that was hilarious.
The smile was soon wiped off his face when it came to the next course, which included chopped liver – his signature dish. According to the kids, Daniel’s was tastier and richer than his, although they stopped short of asking me to get this recipe too.
The meal continued in much the same way.
Undoubtedly, the highlight for us all was the pulled beef. It was exquisite!
I toyed with the idea of asking Daniel for this recipe, but ultimately decided that it was probably beyond me.
Happily, Daniel lives not far from me, and I’m sure I’ll come under pressure to supplement my own meals with some of his delicacies in the not-too-distant future.
Sadly, it was late to order food from him for Passover, since he takes orders months in advance and sells out almost immediately.
Ah well – there’s always next year!
Daniel can be reached via WhatsApp at 058-550-0803. Although MUNCH WITH MEDS does not have an official kosher certification since it is a home-based business, Daniel uses only fresh, kosher ingredients, his kitchen is strictly kosher, and all cooking and preparation is overseen by Rabbi Jonathan Lieberman, his father-in-law.
The writer is a former lawyer from Manchester, England. She now lives in Israel where she works at The Jerusalem Post.