The chef and social media star serves up recipes at the Festival
Eitan Bernath is not your typical 20-year-old chef in full cooking school. The social media prodigy and charismatic Teaneck personality recently showcased his cooking chops at the Bank of America Arts, Books and Culture Festival Nov. 5-13 at the Katz JCC, where he discussed his extraordinary rise towards stardom. During his presentation, Bernath also gave a cooking demonstration in which he made Caramelized Honey Mustard Brussels Sprouts from his recently released cookbook, “Eitan Eats the World: New Comfort Classics to Cook. Right Now”.
“Growing up, I was actually a really picky eater,” said Bernath, who made his first television appearance on an episode of “Chopped Junior” when he was 12. “I didn’t like anything that wasn’t basically bread and sugar.” Over time, he developed a love for the Food Network and food documentaries, which inspired him to start a food blog. Each week, through trial and error, he cooked a new recipe.
Blog posts turned into Instagram posts, which turned into videos. In 2017, Bernath made his second Food Network appearance on Guy Fieri’s TV show, “Guy’s Grocery Games,” which launched his entertainment career. Then came TikTok, the shorthand vertical video platform, which helped make Bernath’s cooking content truly go viral. Now he has a following of 7 million across all his social media platforms, with over 2 million followers on TikTok alone. He is also a recurring culinary contributor on “The Drew Barrymore Show”. A part-time student at Columbia University, Bernath runs Eitan Productions, his own three-employee food media company, which operates out of his New York City apartment.
In light of celebrities such as rapper Kanye West spouting anti-Semitic comments lately, he underlined the responsibility of having so much influence, especially on young children. “It’s normal for us to be in the JCC right now,” said Bernath, who attended Yavneh Academy and then Frisch School, both Modern Orthodox schools in Paramus, New Jersey. “Because I really realize that being a Jew on social media with hundreds of millions of people watching me comes with real responsibility.”
Bernath wants to set a good example. He wants to show his followers that being Jewish means caring about the world as an engaged citizen and “being a light to the nations,” he said.
He is the youngest Food Council member of City Harvest, New York’s largest food rescue organization, and an advisor to Animal Haven, an animal rescue organization in Lower Manhattan. Last year, he was able to represent the Jewish community by attending the annual celebration of Hanukkah at the White House. “Proudly wearing my Jewish star necklace and singing all the blessings, it was truly an emotional night.”
As steam rose from the cast iron skillet of caramelized Brussels sprouts, Bernath added lemon juice while sharing some cooking tips. “My number one tip is to always make sure you use acid in your cooking. It really is one of the things that makes restaurant food even better.
The new cookbook features Bernath’s favorite recipes from multiple cuisines, all kosher. He also bears a special dedication to his grandfather Larry, Lawrence Bernath, who died in March 2020 from Covid, and who continues to serve as his inspiration.
He added that his mother Sabrina Bernath, a math professor at Frisch, and his father Jason Bernath, a pediatric occupational therapist, also stood by him with their unwavering support.