After 20 years of living in the states, most recently in Bergen County, New Jersey, Inbal Gould was still craving a taste from her former home in Israel that she couldn’t find here. She missed fresh falafel, with a crunchy exterior and soft, green, herb-infused interior. No product on the market came close. So she did what many people only dream about: She perfected her own recipe and developed it into a brand. Falafel Love, made with just five ingredients, is now available in the frozen-food section of more than 50 stores in New Jersey and New York, and from www.kosherkart.com. Distribution is growing fast, with supermarkets and natural-foods outlets coming on board.
Gould started experimenting in the kitchen, and when she was satisfied, she moved on to that tried-and-true focus group, her family. “My kids loved it and that was a big victory for me,” she said. “They usually just like pasta, preferably plain.” She began serving her falafel to all guests from moms bringing playdates to Shabbos-meal company. People started asking her how she made it, so she gave them baggies with pre-mixed ingredients to take home. “That’s how it started; I never intended it to be a business. But so many people started asking me, I thought maybe more people will enjoy it. It’s only five ingredients, just like they make it in Israel. No preservatives and no additives.”
A homemaker with no business experience, Gould mastered every part of the process of turning her recipe into a commercial venture. “I had a very organized strategic plan. I had a vision. That’s my Israeli mentality—you’ve never done that before, you’ll do it now. I’m never stuck. I figure it out.”
Falafel Love has been and still is largely a one-woman show. Gould started making the product in a commercial kosher kitchen. She designed the packaging and the website and filled orders from the back of her car. Soon she started getting calls from stores to carry the product and had stores waiting. “I knew if I wanted to grow the business, I had to make sure it was always in stock. I found a manufacturer to make our falafel and I worked with their food scientist to get it exactly right. I got distribution a few months ago so I don’t have to deliver from the back of my car anymore.”
The days of going to Restaurant Depot and carrying out 60 pounds of chick peas are over, but Gould maintains complete oversight of her product. From the days of selling and delivering to stores herself, she knows all the right people and has kept those good relationships. She still gets feedback directly from customers.
Falafel Love is made with chickpeas, fresh herbs and authentic spices, in proportions Gould finalized through trial-and-error tastings. There are a few different ways to make falafel. The balls can be deep fried in oil, sautéed in oil or sprayed and baked. Whatever method you choose, it’s imperative that the frozen balls are coated with oil when they cook. That’s what gives them crispness. Gould’s favorite way to serve falafel is nestled inside thick, fluffy pita bread with hummus, tahina, Israeli salad and pickles.
“If you’re too tired to make dinner, the falafel takes just 15 minutes and it’s dinner for the whole family,” said Gould. “It’s healthy fast food. And it’s pareve so you can give to kids in school for lunch.” Visit www.falafellove.com for more information including a complete list of where Falafel Love is available, and on Instagram @falafelloveofficial.
By Bracha Schwartz