Takeout the healthy way.
Nutrition Transformations interviews Elie Y. Katz owner of the renowned Chopstix in Teaneck.
Jenn: Tell us about yourself. Who is Elie Y. Katz?
Elie: I grew up in Teaneck New Jersey, and am still here! I graduated from Yavneh Academy and attended Torah Academy of Bergen County. I completed a degree in business administration at Touro College.
When did you open Chopstix?
Chopstix officially opened its doors on January 22, 1996, 26 years ago. I remember it was a very snowy season when we officially opened our doors. People started to enjoy our takeout. Even the snowy, cold weather couldn’t keep people away,
By the way, I like the name “Chopstix” for the restaurant, great name!
We did well considering the weather and that we were a new business. A startup business has a curve in terms of expectations for success. Winter is a hard season to open a restaurant, but we took the plunge, a leap of faith and we made it. And thanks for the compliment on the Chopstix name!
What made you decide to open a kosher Chinese restaurant?
Honestly, I absolutely love Chinese and Asian food. Even as a child, I enjoyed it and ate quite a bit of it. Over time, I developed ideas of how Chinese cuisine can be made to taste authentic although kosher. I am good at “deciphering” great Chinese food from food that’s not. I’ve always wanted the best for my clientele.
So you’re a connoisseur when it comes to Chinese food?
I would say yes, I am an expert. Some people know their wines; I know my Chinese cuisine.
Do you follow specific recipes for your Chinese food?
Absolutely. Recipes are followed carefully and purposefully. Food is prepared with attention to detail to achieve desired outcomes. Our staff is familiar with the authentic tastes of Chinese cuisine and are experts in preparation.
By the way, The New York Times gave Chopstix a wonderful review. We were written up for “excellent authentic and tasteful Chinese cuisine.” This was a testament to our food as well as our long-term and devoted staff.
Congratulations on the review! Happy staff, happy customers…and happy owner. I appreciate the domino effect. Is there anything unique about Chopstix in terms of service?
Many restaurants prepare foods based on expectations of what will be needed. At Chopstix, we prepare food on the spot per customer order. Our food is 100% fresh when picked up by customers.
If a customer requires an adjustment in a recipe because of a dietary concern, can you accommodate, since you mentioned you follow specific recipes?
We can and we do! Food products are prepared per order. Just let us know; we can adjust many recipes for a specific dietary need.
What kind of recipe adjustments do you make for customers?
We adjust gluten recipes and prepare them gluten-free. Salt and sugar can be reduced or removed and substituted with other tasteful ingredients. Even our General Tso’s dish can be carbohydrate-free. Can’t have red wine? We can use white wine. We can use zero-MSG soy sauce, if preferred. And for kids, we have a children’s menu.
For the calorie- or weight-conscious, what can you recommend?
We have a “Dieter’s Menu,” which is vegetarian, and can be prepared with either no fat or low fat. Also, check out our steamed dishes, prepared with no oil, salt, sugar, corn starch or soy sauce unless specified.
So at Chopstix, diabetes, high blood pressure, gluten or a fat sensitivity, recipes can be provided. I’ve had the low-calorie meals. I enjoyed them very much. “Chopstix is dietician-approved!
Glad you enjoyed those items and approve of our ability to adjust recipes. It is our pleasure to please our customers.
Can you share with our readers the charitable programs you are involved with?
We donate unopened food to the Center for Food Action and Teaneck Helping Hands. Chopstix participates in the annual National Night Out Festival. We donate food to both the “Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps and the Adopt-A-Park program. We also host an annual holiday party. See our website for more information.
Thank you for Chopstix’s generous contributions to our community. Is there anything else you would like to share?
We are happy to give back to our community. It’s our way of saying “thank you for supporting us.”
Thank you, Elie, for the opportunity to interview you.
Points of information:
Chopstix caters small and large affairs. We offer: Chinese, American, Israel style foods, BBQ foods and vegetarian meals. Traveling? We deep-freeze food for delivery to your destination. See website for more information at https://www.chopstixusa.com.
Chopstix is open Sunday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m., and Friday 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Yours in good health and bon appetit,
By Jennifer Chapler MS RD CDN