Eitan Bernath: Exploring the Jewish Kitchens of Mexico, Food on Social Media and Egg Salad

Taste Buds with Deb - Episode 56
May 16, 2024

Eitan Bernath is a chef, entertainer and cookbook author.

The 22 year old started cooking at the age of eight, and has been working in food entertainment for about 10 years.

“I didn’t really fit in, when I was younger, with the little league or sports, but I really loved food,” Bernath told the Journal. “My mom encouraged me [to] try cooking … and I really just fell in love with being in the kitchen.”

When he was 11, Bernath randomly auditioned for an episode of the Food Network’s “Chopped;” the episode aired when he was 12.

“From there started my social media, and everything that came after,” he said.

Until about 2018, food in social media was all about photos. Then, around 2019, video took over.

Bernath embraced it. “It really did lead me to where I am today … with the explosive growth that I had in 2020 with video, primarily on TikTok and Facebook and Instagram.”

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video provides infinite words.

For instance, he recently posted an egg salad video, to share his love of this underrated food.

“Egg salad does not get the love that it deserves,” he said. “There’s a lot of boring, bland egg salad in the world, and I think people would appreciate [my] super flavorful egg salad.”

Bernath’s secret ingredient is chili crisp. His recipe is below.

“Breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night snack,” he said. “Anytime of day [this recipe is] a winner.”

Bernath said the fascinating part of creating short-form food video content is the feedback he gets from the audience: He makes it look so easy.

“That’s the goal,” he said. “It should look easy and effortless, but the amount of ‘non-easiness’ is what makes it look so easy.”

He added, “There’s a lot of effort into the food, the prep, the lighting, how it’s shot, how I speak, what I’m wearing, like every little detail is thought out to make it look effortless.”

One of the things that makes food meaningful for Bernath is that it’s the great connector. Teaneck, New Jersey, where he was raised, is was very diverse. There were Jewish areas; one of the families next door was Indian, the other was Dominican.

“We all grew up, playing with each other … celebrating each other’s holidays, enjoying each other’s food,” Bernath said. “My upbringing was just with so many people who weren’t like me.”

In his new digital series, “Eitan Explores: Mexico City,” Bernath dives into the culinary joys, along with the history from the Jewish kitchens, of Mexico City. The seven two-minute episodes, which premiered this month, explore a melting pot of culture and people deeply connected to the spirit of their country as well as their ancestral roots.

“I’ve done a lot of travel over the last bunch of years and whenever I travel, whether it’s been to India, to different parts of Europe or other parts of Asia, I’m always fascinated about connecting with Jews in that part of the world,” he said.

While these Jews all have very different backgrounds, one thing everyone connects on is the food. Going into this series, Bernath didn’t know that much about the Jews of Mexico City.

“I like Mexican food [and] I know that Mexico has such a rich food culture and culture in itself,” he said. “So the goal with the series was to meet Mexican Jews, hear their stories and learn about their food, their culture [and] their history; it was such a transformative experience.”

Usually Bernath is also filming his experiences. Having a crew for this series, which he did with Tastemade, allowed him to be fully immersed in the food.

One of his favorite experiences was having a Shabbat meal with Estrella Jafif, a Mexican Jewish chef with roots in Lebanon and Cuba.

“We were eating this kibbeh, which are these very ground up meat and rice,” he said, likening them to a combination of a dumpling and a kebab in a really tangy stew.

“Instead of tamarind, they use limes, because that’s what they have in Mexico, and some people [add] avocado,” he said. “This Middle Eastern dish infused with the ingredients of Mexico was just so beautiful.”

To learn more about Eitan Bernath and to check out “Eitan Explores: Mexico City,” go to EitanBernath.com and follow @Eitan on Instagram.

For the full conversation, listen to the podcast:

Egg Salad

It’s time I admit I have been eating copious amounts of egg salad for the past few weeks. I think I’ve perfected my recipe and I NEED to share it with you to see what you think. The secret ingredient is some chili crisp which helps cut the fattiness along with the acidity from the lemon juice.

8 hard-boiled eggs

½ cup mayo

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp whole grain mustard

Juice from ½ lemon

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon chili crisp, plus more for garnish

1 stalk celery, diced

2 Tbsp chopped dill

2 Tbsp chopped chives

2 Tbsp chopped capers

2 Tbsp chopped gherkins

To Serve:

1 loaf challah or white bread, sliced

1 head Little Gem lettuce, or a few pieces of romaine

Roughly chop the hard boiled eggs. Mix ingredients together. Enjoy on challah with your favorite lettuce.


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A post shared by Eitan Bernath (@eitan)

Debra Eckerling is a writer for the Jewish Journal and the host of “Taste Buds with Deb.Subscribe on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform. Email Debra: tastebuds@jewishjournal.com.

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