shira

From military newsroom to chef’s whites

By Shira Vissoker,
ICC Professional Culinary Arts student.

I was born 25 years ago in a desert town in the south of Israel. Like any other Israeli, I joined the army right after I finished high school. But unlike most of my friends, I was lucky enough to do something different during my service and got into the IDF radio station, called “Galey Tzahal”, and became a radio broadcaster.

I served as a military journalist for 3 years, and later on I worked at the most popular media channels in Israel. I edited, produced and broadcasted radio shows for over 1,000,000 listeners. Although I have learned a lot and got to talk and write about culture, music and even food – I was also exposed to a lot of disasters and crimes.

I was in the direct career path to become a successful reporter – the one who sits in a studio and tells the world about the horrible murders or the latest politic bribe affairs.

So, why am I here instead?

For the same two reasons as everyone else: I want to make my dream come true and to make people happy. Food makes people happy – that’s the only thing I knew when I imagined pursuing a culinary career. I wanted to combine my passion to be heard, with my long forgotten love for cooking. I’ve always loved to cook, but never had an opportunity or courage to do something about it.

The major change in my life happened when my boyfriend told me he was moving to New York – I decided to join him! The move to NYC became my official opportunity to get the culinary education I couldn’t get in my homeland. After a long search, I came for a private tour to ICC. That was when everything finally felt right, and I became certain of what I really wanted to do in life and how I wanted to do it.

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When I decided to go for it and apply to ICC, everyone told me I was crazy: my parents, my friends, and even my boyfriend who started this whole thing. I had a promising career and a very easy and interesting life back in Israel, and all of a sudden I decided to leave everything and pursue my culinary dreams. More importantly, do so in a very expensive city, 5600 miles away from home.

That’s what I did, and it was the best step I could have taken. It’s very hard, it’s even harder in a foreign country – I see more people on the subway everyday than I saw in a month on the streets of Tel Aviv. Working in the kitchen is hard: it’s hot, it’s competitive and very demanding. But it’s also the place when you can actually make the best lemonade out of lemons, and the clearest consommé out of raw bones – and everything you ever wanted to make.

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I’ve learned so much over the past two and a half months! Not just about food – but also about my working habits. I’ve learned that cooking combines amazing creativity with strict rules and major organization skills. Most of all, I’ve learned that I knew nothing about food and I am really excited that I have so much more to learn and research.

So, here I am! My name is Shira, which means “poetry” or “her song” in Hebrew (and also the name of the “princess of power” from the 80s TV show). I’m a culinary arts student, passionate writer, and a young woman who aspires to be a successful chef. For some reason I listened to myself when everybody said I shouldn’t, and I work every day to prove them (and myself) that I was right.

– Shira