- So Michal, tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm Michal Benishti, I live in Israel and work at Strauss dairies. I have a bachelor's degree in management, economics and accountancy and a master's in business administration.
Before I came to UNISG I worked as a finance director manager for different companies. I graduated from the master of Gastronomy-food culture and communication program at UNISG in 2016.
I was always a "foodie", so I wanted to expand my knowledge and learn more about food. I wasn't aware by then of the existence of Slow food, but after I graduated I completely changed the way I'm thinking about food.
- Could you tell us more about it?
Before I came to UNISG I was in my own little world in Israel, didn't thought too much about where my food is coming from, what is sustainability and the meanings of local products and agriculture. UNISG opened my eyes and made me think differently, not just about food issues but also about our world and globalization. Without the university, I would never have reached to what I am doing today.
- And what are you doing today?
Today I'm the head gastronome in Strauss dairies. Strauss is the biggest commercial food chain in Israel with branches in Israel and around the world. I'm in charge only for the dairy section, but Strauss have a lot more then that. I'm the first gastronome in an Israeli industrial food company, so for me it's a huge respect. In my role I'm in charge for the whole production chain and supervise on it, starting from the begging. How the raw materials are being produce, how are they cultivated, transportation, loading, and so on- it’s all my job.
I was searching to be part of the industry but on the same time I wanted to be part of Slow Food values- that’s why I love my job so much. I'm changing the food of the average person every single day. Millions of people are eating the dairy products of Strauss, so if I remove even 1 additive, millions will eat healthier food.
- Sound amazing. What are the challenges in this job?
The whole "Slow- food" attitude not always talks to everyone. For example, the workers in Strauss sometimes not completely understand why I'm so insistent about making these changes. In Israel, not everyone are aware of the consequences of changing our food and most of people don’t know what gastronome mean. However, I do think that the management support my ideas, and I believe that a lot of it is a result of my insisting publicity moves. But, I'm not just providing information, I'm also playing on the emotional part.
There are so many Green organization that are preaching for a better world, but Slow food is doing it differently. When I'm saying to someone- Listen, it’s just more fun and tastier to eat clean, good and fair food I'm talking to him personally, and not about something so big like our planet.
- Would you like to say something to the students?
Yes I do! Don’t be afraid of the industry. A gastronome in an industrial company is something unique, because so many people eating the food of your company produce. Don’t get me wrong, I'm supporting small scale producers, but I think that they both need to coexist.
There is a place for the artisanal raw milk cheese and there is a place for the everyday pasteurized cheese. As long as the industrial cheese production respects the environment and produces in a proper way I think that both of them have a place in our fridge.