Meet Eitan Bernath, the wunderkind cook from Teaneck
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Meet Eitan Bernath, the wunderkind cook from Teaneck

7 million social media followers and now a new cookbook

Eitan and Mom cooking together at home.
Eitan and Mom cooking together at home.

It’s a regular Friday morning at the Manhattan penthouse duplex apartment of Eitan Bernath. Flanked by his crew of culinary producers, cameramen, and videographers, Eitan is getting ready for action in his open layout kitchen decorated with plants and jars of colorful spices lining the wall. He’s preparing to shoot a YouTube food video, a recreation of redolent, spicy Biang Biang Noodles, a delectable cumin lamb noodle dish.

It’s enough to have a visitor want a second breakfast.

Eitan, who turned 20 at the end of April, has been described as a wunderkind.

He is a celebrity chef, entertainer, author, social media influencer, television personality, and entrepreneur with a following of 7 million across his social media accounts and 350 million consumers viewing his content each year. He is the principal culinary contributor for “The Drew Barrymore Show.” He was recently named to the Forbes list of 30 Under 30 for Food and Drink.

Eitan is also the chief executive officer of his own multi-million-dollar production and entertainment company, Eitan Productions, which employs seven people full time.

Now, his first cookbook, “Eitan Eats the World,” published by Clarkson Potter, is making its debut on May 3.

“I really believed when I was a young kid that one day I would write a cookbook,” said Eitan, a Teaneck native and graduate of Yavneh Academy and Yeshivat Frisch, who invited Jewish Standard’s Our Children to his Manhattan home/production studio for a behind-the-scenes look at his life. “I didn’t know if it would be when I was 25, 35, or 40, but I really believed that one day I would write a book.”

The beautifully photographed book is a collection of 85 comfort, ethnic, and other recipes — most of which have never been seen before. Included are some fan favorites, such as Penne alla Vodka, tweaked and elevated for the book.

“The book is a culmination of my culinary journey thus far,” Eitan said. “I know when you’re 19 to say ‘culmination’ sounds strange, but really this has been in the works since I was 12 years old, and I started food blogging. Every time I developed a recipe that was exceptional, I thought, ‘I’m saving it for the book.’”

Eitan Bernath chopping and smashing cucumbers.

The cookbook also bears a special dedication to his Grandpa Larry, Lawrence Bernath, who passed away in March 2020 of Covid and who served — and continues — as his inspiration. That year, 2020, is still something Eitan grapples with. Descending into a deep depression after losing his grandfather, it was his grandmother, Larry’s wife, Linda Bernath, and his parents, Sabrina and Jason Bernath, who encouraged Eitan to get back behind the camera and make food videos.

“Within two weeks of his passing, I started making videos again,” Eitan recalled. “I felt like a new motivation at the time. I thought, ‘Okay, I have to keep making him proud. I would wipe away my tears and force myself to film some videos. The first few weeks after he passed, I was faking my happiness, but through doing this and seeing how I was able to make other people happy, I rediscovered my own happiness. I am grateful that my grandmother and my parents pushed me.”

That year, 2020, things turned around dramatically.

In May 2020, Eitan signed with William Morris Endeavor, a move that accelerated his profile.

“I would say that it almost felt that when my grandfather passed, things started exploding,” Eitan told Our Children previously. “It felt that it was meant to be, and that he wanted me to keep going even if he couldn’t be there physically. He would be so proud to see everything and how happy I am personally.”

Since December 2020, Eitan has been the principal culinary contributor for “The Drew Barrymore Show” on CBS, making him the first notable TikTok star to expand into a recurring role on daytime television. Word is that Barrymore’s daughters discovered him on the social media platform.

But it wasn’t simply his enthusiasm, accessible recipes, personality, and good looks that catapulted him to mega fame.

The kid, now a young adult, had been at this for nearly a decade. Working hard. Laser focused and lucky with super supportive parents.

Eitan developed a passion for cooking at a very young age and would ask his mother to recreate some recipes. His first appearance on television was on “Chopped” when he was 12 years old. He didn’t win the competition, but he took that experience to higher ground. In 2017, he again was on the Food Network, this time as a contestant for “Guy’s Grocery Games,” hosted by one of his food idols, Guy Fieri.

Eitan on set with Drew Barrymore.

While other high school students were busy with sports and extra-curricular activities, Eitan was busy blogging, videoing, writing, recipe developing and focusing on his passion — to one day became a famous chef and a food personality. Every free period he would juggle his schoolwork with his food work. And he began collecting clients and making money.

His mother, Sabrina Bernath, the chairperson of the math department at Frisch, and his father, Jason Bernath, a pediatric occupational therapist, were behind him all the way.

“My parents have been supportive from day one,” Eitan said, recalling that they “got a lot of push back with supporting me with cooking. They would hear things like, ‘Eitan is going to open a restaurant. Most restaurants fail. Why are you letting him do this?’ When I told my parents that one day, I would be a famous chef, they believed me. They never, ever told me that my dreams were too big.”

Supportive and encouraging, driving Eitan hither and yon, whether to food gigs or other meetings or photo shoots, his parents also wanted to teach him how to manage his budding business.

“He built his business himself,” said Mrs. Bernath. “We didn’t pay for a pot or a pan.”

Whatever his earnings, he was encouraged to invest back in the business. “We thought this is how he would learn how to handle money. It was an invaluable life skill. He got used to that and it motivated him to work,” she added, never quite envisioning what her son would become so quickly.

Before moving from Teaneck into Manhattan in 2021, Eitan took over the family garage and transformed it into his studio. “I think we bought him the paint,” Mrs. Bernath quipped. “And we helped clean the dishes.”

“After being with him for a 10-hour photo shoot,” said Mrs. Bernath, “I would sometimes wind up grading my tests in the middle of night. But I will never regret shlepping out to the city to events because it always benefitted him.

“Through it all,” Mrs. Bernath said, “No matter what is going on, Eitan has been such a devoted son and has been super attentive to us.” The family gathers at least once a week for dinner and sometimes sees one another twice a week. There are frequent phone calls, and, of course, when they can, Shabbat together “when his life allows it.” They also travel together.

Eitan at the White House with President Joe Biden.

“He is always thoughtful in ways to include us,” Mrs. Bernath said. “For example, when he got invited to the White House (at the end of 2021) to see the holiday decorations, it was the day of my birthday and he surprised me and made sure that I was his plus-one.”

That was one of Eitan’s recent high points and an extraordinary experience.

He was invited with a small group of influencers to see the holiday decorations at the White House, and he was accompanied by his mother.

“We had incredible access,” Eitan said. “I couldn’t believe how I was just walking around.”

One of First Lady Jill Biden’s prominent aides was talking to Eitan and noticed his necklace, a big Jewish star. She invited him as a guest the next night to the White House Chanukah party. He had to fly back to New York to film a video and wait for clearance, but he returned. In between his two White House visits within a 24-hour period, Eitan learned that he was named on Forbes list of 30 Under 30, recognizing talent and success in a chosen field.

Eitan was the youngest and only non-politician or rabbi to attend the White House event. He met President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

“It was an overwhelming experience,” he said. “I would watch the White House Chanukah event every year and for me to be there … it is the most forward facing, biggest Jewish event on the federal level of government where the president, the most powerful man on Earth is celebrating our holiday. And I am there wearing my Jewish star in the White house, celebrating Chanukah, especially at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise in this country. And hearing the brochot (blessings). It was like out of a movie. I was crying,” he said.

That Jewish star necklace has become a wardrobe staple for Eitan. He wears it for his public appearances. “I think as I’m growing into adulthood and figuring out for me what it means to be Jewish, especially what it means to be Jewish on the public stage, I feel a great sense of responsibility. For most of the people who watch my videos, I’m the only Jew or perhaps one of only Jewish people that they will interact with. I take that as a lot of responsibility.

“I wear [the Jewish star] to let people know I’m a proud Jew. I realize my actions represent a larger group of people other than just myself. So, for me, going to the Gucci event at New York’s fashion week wearing my big Jewish star or being at the White House or on Drew Barrymore’s show or any public appearance for that matter, gives me the ability to be a loud and proud Jew and to show people what a Jew is. They may have heard crazy or horrible things, but this is a way to show them what a Jew is. A Jew is part of society, contributing to society, adding great value to society, getting people excited about food. Jews are excited about other people’s cultures, and that is really important.”

Eitan at the White House with Vice President Kamala Harris.

What is also important to Eitan are his charities, another nod to his Jewish upbringing.

Most recently, Eitan has joined the food council at City Harvest, New York City’s largest food rescue organization and is solidifying a role with an animal rescue organization. (He has two pets, both rescues, Ernie, his dog, and Cardi, his cat.)

It’s also so important for him to keep his feet on the ground. His family, especially brother Yoni, helps with that. “He’s very supportive, but not impressed,” he said with a smile.

Another person who knows Eitan from way back is the family’s rabbi, Rabbi Aharon Ciment of Arzei Darom in Teaneck, who has watched Eitan grow up. “What makes Eitan so lovable,” said Rabbi Ciment, “is his passion, his exuberance, and his sincerity in his craft. That resonates with people and speaks to people.”

Upon reflection, Mrs. Bernath said it’s interesting how up to this point things have come full circle.

“I remember when Eitan was 11 years old, and Guy Fieri was at a book signing at Bookends in Ridgewood. Eitan idolized him and said he wanted to dress up as Guy Fieri. So, he did. And we waited in line in the freezing cold to buy a book and meet him. And then here comes this little kid with a spiky white wig, dressed in black and Guy Fieri went crazy when he saw Eitan. And now, my kid is doing his own book signing at Bookends.”

Like all parents, Mrs. Bernath’s role has changed as Eitan has grown into the successful man he is.

“My role now is chief mom,” she said. “The most important thing for me and Jason, is to continue to be his parents, and to be there for him for the highs and the lows. This is so fun and exciting. There is no place that I’d rather be.”


 

“Eitan Eats the World” on Tour

(Check eitanbernath.com for details and tickets)

May 4

Union Square Greenmarket
New York City

May 4

The Strand bookstore
7 p.m., Union Square,
New York City

May 5

92 Street Y
7:30 p.m., New York City

May 9

Arzei Darom
7 p.m., Teaneck, NJ

May 10

Jewish Federation of Northern NJ
7 p.m., Paramus, NJ

May 11

The Temple Emanu-El Strieker Center
6 p.m., New York City

May 12

Bookends
6 p.m., Ridgewood

May 22

Books & Greetings
Northvale

TBA late May

Yavneh Academy, Paramus

June 15

Summer in the City Recipe Tastings
Chelsea Piers, New York City

 

 

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