Shirel Berger

Jerusalem - Israel

Shirel Berger 2023 09 22 18 40 17

An Israeli chef and champion of vegetable cuisine, Shirel Berger has been awarded the One To Watch prize from the 50 Best Restaurants in the Middle East 2023. She is the force behind “OPA” in Tel Aviv.

Born in the '90s to Messianic Jewish parents who emigrated from the United States to Jerusalem, Shirel Berger grew up with her twin Sharona and their sister Ilya. From the age of twelve, Shirel began cooking, fostering her interest primarily during the summers of her childhood spent with her sisters and grandparents, who owned a restaurant, in California. To this day, her grandfather remains a significant figure in her life, having strengthened her bond with cooking, offering advice before she opened her restaurant, and even before she began her culinary studies.

After high school, Shirel performed military service, which proved to be a time of profound personal discovery during which she fell in love with her first girlfriend and began contemplating leaving Israel to study cooking in the United States. On her grandfather's advice, she decided to explore her passion by working in a restaurant to determine if cooking was indeed her future. Thus, Shirel made her professional debut, working at Ilan Garussi's “Chakra” restaurant, feeling for the first time free to be herself. After nine months and three admission attempts, she finally began her studies at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, during which she interned at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s “ABC Kitchen.”

She got her diploma in 2014, and then moved to Tel Aviv, where she began cooking exclusively with vegetables, fruits, and seeds. Next, she discovered Africa, where she spent some time developing a passion for the cuisine of the northern part of the continent. Back in Tel Aviv in 2018, encouraged by her grandfather, Shirel opened “OPA” in the bustling Leviskey spice market. Her restaurant, which serves neither meat nor its substitutes, has become a sanctuary of authentic vegetable flavors. Thanks to her talent and philosophy, Shirel earned the prestigious One To Watch Award from the 50 Best Restaurants in the Middle East in 2023.


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