At just 20 years old, chef and social media personality Eitan Bernath has seemingly done it all. He competed on the hit show Chopped at only age 12, had his cookbook Eitan Eats the World published at 19, appeared on The Drew Barrymore Show, and is involved with various philanthropic ventures with City Harvest and Animal Haven. However, his day-to-day is spent filming cooking videos — such as his drool-worthy croque monsieur tuna melt or his dulce de leche brownies — and running a production company out of his Lower Manhattan apartment.
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Born and raised in New Jersey, Bernath moved to New York City just two years ago, but finding a space that could facilitate both the chef's personal life and business proved to be a challenge.
"When looking for an apartment, the most important thing for me was a big kitchen, which is very hard in New York," Bernath explains to Hunker. "It's not known for big kitchens. When you film cooking videos, the key to a kitchen is having an island with the burners in the island. In a lot of kitchens, even if they have islands, the burners are on the back counter, and that makes filming videos very challenging because there isn't a good camera angle for that."
With the expense of commercial spaces topped with the convenience of filming lifestyle videos in his own home, Bernath opted for a two-story penthouse that only allowed for a small degree of separation between his work in the kitchen and his bedroom where he unwinds. The space features a solarium that doubles as a conference room, two outdoor terraces with a garden, and two bedrooms. Most importantly, the kitchen is the focal point of the home with a huge island (perfect for filming videos), two rows of 20-foot-long floating shelves, and a display of cookbooks.
When designing the apartment, Bernath thought of the whole space as one large set, but also needed to find a balance with functionality. Each room needed to be practical as both a home and workspace, but Bernath also wanted the spaces to maintain a visual appeal as the backdrop for videos.
Despite the success of his carefully crafted delicious recipes, his cookbook, and his production company, for Bernath, the most rewarding part of his job is the philanthropic work he is fortunate enough to do. The creator is on the Food Council for City Harvest and works hard to elevate the work that the charity does when it comes to nourishing its community.
"Being Jewish, one of the most important values is giving tzedakah, giving charity," says Bernath. "When I was 12, I did a cooking demo at a local grocery store and I got paid $300. I remember my dad had me donate a percentage of the money. It was the first time that I ever really earned money and he instilled in me that I've been blessed with the ability to make that money, and because of that, I should donate a percentage of it to those who are not as blessed as [I am]."
Aside from just volunteer work, the creator's Jewish background has impacted his livelihood in terms of the recipes he creates and the values that have been instilled in him. He was even able to attend the White House Hanukkah celebration in 2021, which he describes as one of the highlights of his life. However, in light of recent anti-semetic events, Bernath has used his platform to amplify Jewish voices and be a leader in a challenging conversation.
"I think being loud and proud is important," says Bernath. "Because it's exactly what the people who are spewing hate don't want. They don't want Jews to be loud and proud. They don't want Jews to celebrate their holidays and be full of joy. I think that truly the best way to fight anti-semitism, other than accountability, is just being a Jew loudly and proudly."
When he's not refining his recipes, filming lifestyle videos, or volunteering, Bernath enjoys spending time with his two cats and dog, gardening, and exploring all Manhattan has to offer.
"Food to me, in its most basic form, is something that brings joy into life," he says. "My favorite part of every day is when I get to eat. It connects people, in a literal physical sense like breaking bread with someone, or now with social media, people connect through food across oceans. But truly, food is about connection."