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Cooking With 12-Year-Old Kosher Chef Eitan Bernath Before His “Chopped” Debut

Courtesy Food Network

Last week, we wrote about the talented kippah-clad tween who landed a spot on the teen episode of Food Network’s cooking competition, “Chopped.” Eitan Bernath is a 7th grader at Yavneh Academy Paramus and lives with his parents and 9-year-old brother Yoni in Teaneck, New Jersey. Eitan agreed to sit down with me and talk about his experience on the show and share one of his favorite recipes. Be sure to catch the show, which airs TONIGHT on the Food Network at 10 p.m. EST.

1. How did you figure out that you love cooking? 

I got more into it when I was 9.5 or 10. I just helped my mom make dinner. There’s one meal we’d always make with beans and cheese and baked tortilla. Over the past year I really got into it. I made homemade hot sauce, cheese, and cinnabons. Most of it I learned on my own from watching YouTube or Food Network or going on my iPad to look it up.

How did you end up auditioning for the Food Network gig?

The head of casting told one of her friends, who told one of her friends, who told one of her friends, until one of my dad’s friends heard about it and she remembered that I like to cook.

We didn’t actually think I’d make it [on the show] or anything, we just thought it would be fun to apply. During the interview, me and my mom didn’t think anything would actually happen. Then they called us in for a video interview and it was during winter break so we were like, why not? It was actually a lot of fun. I told my mom the second I walked out, “I’m gonna be on ‘Chopped’”–it went so well.

3. Was it hard to cook non-kosher meat if you couldn’t taste it?

Obviously, I can’t say what kind of meats they gave us on the show, but before the show I watched lots of YouTube videos to learn how to cook non-kosher meats like seafood or pork. I knew I’d have to cook non-kosher meats and I actually thought it was cool that I had that opportunity to cook all different kinds of meats. My rabbi said that I could cook anything as long as I didn’t cook milk and meat together.

 4. What was the most challenging thing about being on TV?

It really surprised me how nice people were to us. The judges were actually really nice to us and they took pictures with us. The kids, I’m still in touch with.

5. What’s next for you? Culinary school?

Yeah, I definitely want to go. Right now, I actually have a blog. I started it at the beginning of the summer. And a new thing I’m starting is a video blog and a cooking show.

Below is one of Chef Eitan’s recipes he graciously shared with us between homework sessions. Enjoy!

Skirt Steak Black Bean Burrito

Ingredients:

The amounts given are for four servings.

Skirt steak

Peanut oil

Avocado

Plum tomatoes

Purple onion

Lime juice

Cilantro

Jalapeno

Black beans

Yellow rice

Cumin

Red chili pepper

Large wheat wrap

Pareve sour cream

Directions:

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in the pan. Once hot add two long strips of skirt steak, cook four minutes a side, more if meat is thick.

2. While meat is cooking, make the pico de gallo by combining in a bowl diced tomatoes, cubes of avocado, diced purple onion, chopped cilantro, diced jalapeno (with seeds and ribs removed). Sprinkle lime juice on top of the mixture, stir, and set aside.

3. Once meat is done, remove it and let it sit.

4. Saute a partially-drained can of black beans in the pan drippings. Add cumin and chili powder, bring to low simmer, and cook two minutes more, then turn off the flame.

5. Slice meat into strips and then cut into small cubes.

6. Smear a layer of pareve sour cream on the wrap, then place yellow rice, layer on top black beans, then the meat, finally sprinkle on pico de gallo, and then roll into burrito shape.

Be careful not to overstuff the burrito or the filling will fall out when the wrap is rolled.


Stay up-to-date with Chef Eitan’s cooking adventures here on his website.


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