Highlighting: “Eitan Eats the World” by Eitan Bernath. Clarkson Potter. 2022. English. Hardcover. 240 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0593235362.
Many remember 19-year-old Eitan Bernath of Teaneck from his cooking debut on Chopped’s first-ever kids episode back in 2014. At just 11 years old, Bernath had made it clear to viewers that cooking was his passion, and he was determined to pursue a career in culinary arts. And that he did: The recent Frisch graduate has gained incredible social media fame for his cooking videos, with millions of followers on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. But to Bernath, his most exciting accomplishment is up ahead, with the release of his first cookbook, “Eitan Eats the World,” complete with 85 kosher recipes that Bernath developed himself.
“I’ve dreamed of writing a cookbook since I was young,” Bernath shared. “I’m truly proud of all of the recipes in this book—they are comfort classics, and there’s a little bit of everything.”
Bernath explained that the past year and a half, and the lead-up to his cookbook launch, has been bittersweet. After losing his grandfather to COVID-19 in March 2020, Bernath was overcome with grief, which was a challenge for the young culinary star. “What kept me going is knowing that my grandfather would be proud of me, and would be happy for all of the success I’ve had. He wouldn’t want my grief to get in the way of that,” he explained.
Bernath took time off upon his high school graduation to focus on his career, which proved to be a benefit for his own stardom and the success of his production company, Eitan Productions. Since the beginning of 2021, Bernath has hired five full-time employees, allowing him to scale up and manage his massive social media following, on top of developing the recipes for “Eitan Eats the World.”
Between managing his production team and creating content, Bernath has a busy day, which starts at 5 a.m. “I’m a morning person,” said Bernath. “Between 5:30 and 9 in the morning, I’m creating four or five videos that are syndicated for different social media platforms.” Then, once his videos are done, Bernath meets with his team members to go over assignments for the day. Though the tasks vary from day to day, Bernath’s favorite days are when he gets to work on developing recipes, he shared. For “Eitan Eats the World,” the process of developing each recipe was “really creatively stimulating,” as he worked with each of his recipe testers to perfect his techniques and instructions.
“When you develop recipes for a blog on the internet, there’s less pressure because you can always go back and change it,” Bernath explained. “In a book, there’s a lot more pressure, because you can’t do that, so it was a totally different development process. I have an incredible team that helped with testing and gave me feedback on each recipe.”
And Bernath’s process was thorough: Each recipe was made at least seven times before going into the cookbook. When asked which recipe was his favorite, Bernath joked that choosing one “is like picking a favorite child,” but ultimately settled on his PB&J pancake recipe. He shared that he has always disliked peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and wanted to push himself to create something that would make him like the combination.
“There’s nothing wrong with peanut butter and jelly, there’s just something wrong with me,” Bernath shared with a laugh. “I like pancakes, so I created a peanut butter buttermilk pancake, super delicious and full of flavor, with a raspberry-grape jam drizzled on top. It’s mouthwatering…and now I have something with peanut butter and jelly that I officially like.”
Getting out of his culinary comfort zone was one of Bernath’s main goals when developing recipes for “Eitan Eats the World,” along with pushing other home cooks to try new things as well. He explained that this philosophy has helped in keeping his cookbook kosher, since many recipes incorporate the use of vegan cheese and plant-based meats. “I know it’s not for everyone, but it’s exciting to get people to try these alternatives.” Bernath added that not only does he want to push cooks to try new things, but he wants to make people excited about being in the kitchen.
“I really spent a lot of time making sure that this cookbook would appeal to a wide range of cooks in the kitchen,” he shared. “This book is really to make cooking fun. My goal is to get people to have fun while creating food. I’m really proud of the balance I struck between recipes that are approachable and recipes that get experienced cooks to try something unfamiliar.”
Reflecting on his own social media success, Bernath shared that being his authentic self has made him stand out among a sea of other culinary influencers. “It’s so easy to doubt your own authenticity,” said Bernath. “There are a lot of people who have food blogs out there, but at the end of the day, people are going to follow you for you, and not for the food. There’s only one person who can be you…I know it sounds cliche, but truly the most growth I’ve had in my career is when I’ve gotten more comfortable with just being myself.” He continued that this would be his key advice to other teens out there who are looking for social media success: Be yourself, since no one else can be. “Just do what excites you,” he shared.
Self-awareness and authenticity have also allowed Bernath to stand out in the cookbook space. “I’m not trying to be Gordon Ramsey, and I’m not trying to be Bobby Flay. I’m 19, and I own that,” Bernath explained. “I have my own perspective on food, and because of that, I’m not trying to teach complicated techniques like a chef who’s been in the kitchen for decades. I’m very aware of what I can offer. I’m really proud of that.”
“Eitan Eats the World” will be released in print in May 2022—but until then, the book is available for pre-order. “Pre-orders are the best thing you can do to support an author,” said Bernath.
Pre-order your copy of Eitan Bernath’s cookbook at www.eitaneatstheworld.com.
By Channa Fischer