Monday, April 12, 2010

Chanita Bar-Chaim Cooks Night and Day

Chanita Bar-Chaim, a soon-to-be graduate of the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts evening program in Culinary Arts, is already hard at work in "the biz," spending her days from 7am until 5pm at Basil, a "Pizza and Wine Bar" restaurant in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Born in Israel, Chanita grew up in Elizabeth, NJ, and went to high school in Providence, Rhode Island. While in Providence, Chanita worked throughout high school for a caterer who was educated in Culinary Arts at the famed Johnson & Wales University, and Chanita spent time doing prep work in the kitchen during her first year with the chef. After that, she helped set up presentations for veggie and fruit tables and did some waitressing, but the caterer soon noticed that Chanita had a eye for plating, and so was given more responsibility for plating and aesthetic presentation.

But cooking in Providence isn't the first time Chanita has been in a kitchen. "I can't remember a time when I didn't cook," she said.

Certainly she helped cook at home since age 12 with her Chabad-associated family, which includes three sisters and a brother, and she even volunteered to cook in her seminary during her year in Israel, making Shabbos dinners, banquets and even a big Thanksgiving for all the American girls in the seminary.

Since returning from Israel, Chanita has worked in retail bakeries locally and in a wholesale/retail bakery in Florida, and has been doing party platters and even larger catering jobs like her brother's Bar Mitzvah party.

At Basil, Chanita is very busy. "Right now, I am running the downstairs prep kitchen, and doing the salad and dessert station, and assisting all the other stations that need sauces or prep items. For the fish station, I fillet the fish and do all the prep for the tartare. I am also a mashgacha, so I check all the veggies," she said.

Looking forward, Chanita hopes to eventually open her own catering business.

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