Janna Gur was born in Riga (Latvia), in the former Soviet Union, the only child of a mathematician and a medical doctor. She immigrated to Israel in 1974 with her family and settled in Beer Sheva. Janna went on to receive her BA in English literature and Art History from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and then did her military service in the Navy, teaching technical English to future naval officers.
To help finance her MA studies (in translation and literary theory at Tel Aviv University), she worked as a flight attendant for El-Al Airlines. This provided her the opportunity to travel the world and sparked her interest in gastronomy. At that time, though, she still saw her future as a literary translator, and published translations of The Heart of a Dog by Bulgakov, from Russian, and My Father, His Daughter by Yael Dayan, from English.
In 1984 she met her husband, Ilan Gur, a journalist and an independent publisher who introduced her to the world of magazine publishing. In 1991, one month before the first Gulf War broke, the couple launched Al Hashulchan (“On the Table”) magazine, with Janna as a chief editor. February 1992 was the one time Al Hashulchan failed to produce an issue, because of the war.
Originally conceived as a modest trade magazine for food professionals, the magazine quickly became popular among amateur cooks and foodies. The early nineties in Israel were a time of economic prosperity that brought about interest in food and fine dining. This was a formative decade that changed the face of local gastronomy. Together with its audience, Al Hashulchan changed, becoming the premier food and wine magazine for general public.
Between 2000-2002 Janna hosted a regular food segment on an Israeli television network’s morning show. She continues to frequently appear on TV and radio, talking about food and wine and local culinary culture.
In 2001, Al Hashulchan Media Group went into cookbook publishing, with great success. Their first book, Chocolate, was a national bestseller, selling nearly 50,000 copies. It was followed by the Kitchen Helper series, which offered innovative approaches to recipes and cooking techniques. Nira Russo, a famous food journalist in Israel, wrote of the first book in the series that "it is the best cook book ever published in Hebrew." Other books in the series were equally well received, and to-date Al Hashulchan Media Group has published 40 books, many of them national bestsellers.
The Book of New Israeli Food is Janna’s first as an author. Along with the talented photographer Eilon Paz, she roamed the country looking for locations, landscapes and cityscapes which would capture the essence of Israel and its gastronomy. This is the realization of a dream of long standing– to create a book that will reveal to the world the dramatic revival of local cuisine, as well as the beauty and uniqueness of the country and its people.
Commercially successful and critically acclaimed the book is a national bestseller in Israel with over 45 thousand copies sold.
During the last four years she has been touring and lecturing extensively about Israeli and Jewish food, mainly in North America and is involved in various media projects promoting Israeli gastronomy. Janna has also wrote the first ever course on Israeli Cuisine for the New York Times Knowledge Network.