Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Kosher Tween Eitan Bernath Competes on Food Network's "Chopped"!

In September of 2014, Teaneck, NJ's kosher tween Eitan Bernath competed in the Food Network show "Chopped," in a special episode for young cooks with culinary passion and talent. CKCA was lucky enough to catch up with Eitan for an interview between his Bar Mitzvah lessons and home cooking classes.

Photo Credit: Food Network
How did you become involved in “Chopped”?
A friend of my dad’s told me that they were casting for the show. I never thought that I would make the cut, but I had video and phone interviews that went really well and I was accepted! I was so surprised when they emailed me that I was going to be filmed for 13-14 hours for the show! 

Photo Credit: Food Network 
Have you ever taken any cooking classes that you feel helped you in competing on “Chopped”?
Everything has helped to prepare me, mostly my experimenting, reading and learning about cooking. After the filming of "Chopped", I took a summer class at the Bergen Academy. It was cool to be cooking in an industrial kitchen, baking 300 cookies instead of 30 and making  huge quantities of food, really different from cooking in my mom's kitchen at home.

I also went to Le Gourmet Factory in Englewood, NJ, which is more a boutique type cooking school for kids my age. My instructor Chef Dana Cohen actually came in third place on the show "Hell’s Kitchen"! I enjoyed my summer classes so much that I'm continuing to take private lessons at home. I can't wait to learn how to make new fun appetizers, sugar treats, my own snicker bars, pulled sugar, French pastry and my favorites -- Indian and Mexican food (especially fish tacos).

How long have you been interested in cooking?
When I was 9 years old I really got interested trying new foods and fell in love with cooking. I especially enjoy cooking new foods for my family. For Rosh Hashanah I made French macaroons with apple cinnamon jam. They were a big hit!

In one sentence describe what your dream job would be in the kosher food industry?  
I want to cook professionally and eventually author and publish my own cookbook.

What do you find most rewarding about cooking?
That I get to eat and enjoy what I make.

Which do you enjoy more cooking or baking and why?
I like cooking a bit more because there are no boundaries with the amount of ingredients you can use.

What do you find the most challenging/frustrating about cooking?
Having to start the dish over from scratch when you make a mistake.

What is the most important lesson you ever learned while cooking?
To always keep an eye on the flame and always stay focused (and yes, I prefer gas burners).
What is the most bizarre thing that ever happened to you in the kitchen?
I was making an omelet with fried onions and it burst into flames!

What do find the hardest to make?
A few things. Making homemade butter, ice cream, my own cheese and creating an original recipe for the demo I'm doing for the creation of steak burritos and sliders really pushed me.

What are you passions outside of cooking/baking?
I love blogging about food and my favorite blog is "Cooking With Amber".  I'm also working on getting a chicken so I can have fresh eggs on hand, I know it sounds crazy but food tastes different when you know where it comes from.

What do you want to be known for in the culinary/baking world? 
Homemade foods like butter ice cream and making Dulce de Leche from scratch.

Describe the best meal you ever had… 
I had the best super spicy burger, even the waiter warned me before I ate it! It was a habanero patty with grilled jalapeƱo with seed and a house spicy sauce. Have I mentioned that I make my own hot sauce?

What advice do you have for other young people who are interested in getting into the kosher food business? 
Apply your mind to something and you can learn how to do it no matter how hard it is.

~Favorite food to eat? Butter. I can’t live without it.
~Favorite Cookbook?  Food Network’s You Tube page.
~Favorite Cooking / Baking Show / Celeb Chef? Guy Fieri, the host of  "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives," my favorite Food Network show. I also love “Chopped” of course. 
~Favorite kitchen tool(s)? A blender and my own hands.
~Best tip for successful cooking / baking? Don't do other things while you cook and don't text and cook!

Follow Eitan on Facebook, Instagram @chefeitanbernath and Twitter @chefeitan and check out his website

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