Welcome to The Pioneer Woman Cookbook Club! This month, we’re featuring Eitan Bernath, chef, social media star, culinary contributor for The Drew Barrymore Show, and cookbook author of Eitan Eats the World: New Comfort Classics to Cook Right Now. Read on to learn about his TikTok success, the creative ingredients that make his chocolate chunk cookie recipe rise above the rest, and the lesson he learned from Ree Drummond.
Eitan Bernath’s parents, a high school teacher and a pediatric therapist, always found creative ways to educate their children. On any typical Sunday afternoon, the Bernath family would pile into their car and search for new restaurants with varied regional specialties. When a young Eitan questioned why some served naan and others rice, it became a moment to explain how differences in geography impacted his favorite cuisine. Eitan’s parents believed that food was the “most delicious kind of teacher,” and they used it to teach Eitan and his brother about the world. (Sounds like a Ree Drummond kind of idea!) The ritual planted a seed in young Eitan, and a passion for cooking took root.
At 8 years old, he started to spend his free time watching food documentaries while taking scrupulous notes. Birthday gifts were not baseball cards but cooking tools. By the time he was 11 years old, he competed on the first kid-focused episode of Chopped.
You have to be a little obsessive to go from enjoying Indian food with your family to one of the most popular chefs on TikTok and now a published author, all by the age of 20! It’s this boundless enthusiasm that shapes Eitan’s debut book and makes him so compelling. Eitan Eats the World is a collection of globally inspired recipes that marry his curiosity and creativity with his love for comfort food.
Take his favorite food in the world: Chocolate chip cookies. Seemingly one of the most basic childhood desserts, right? Not if you’re Eitan, who wants to get the most out of everything. As a “mild chocolate chip cookie snob,” he dreamt up his bourbon brown butter chocolate chunk cookie recipe.
Eitan takes your typical chocolate chip cookies and adds three critical elements that bring the dessert to a new level. “Brown butter in cookies is a classic technique to bring out deep, rich, nutty flavors from the butter,” Eitan explains. “Then, to kick it up a notch and make the cookies a bit more sophisticated, I added in some bourbon for its uniquely intense smoky flavor. It’s topped with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt for the perfect balance of saltiness and sweetness!”
The magic is in the details, yet the recipe only has five steps! 😮
This economical approach to cooking—few steps, simple ingredients, optimized cook time—is characteristic of his book and TikTok videos and part of what makes the young chef’s recipes so accessible. “A lot of people think social media and traditional media are mutually exclusive, but I think they complement each other really well,” he says.
With seven million followers across his social media platforms, Eitan has undoubtedly succeeded in sharing his excitement. “The greatest part about TikTok is that it is definitely not one size fits all.”
That said, he does have a few tried and true ingredients to a successful video: Show your personality (and lots of it!), maximize your light to show off the food, and stay consistent. He explains that anyone can make chocolate chip cookies, but only you can teach people how to make them in your voice and with your energy.
With multiple TV appearances, a huge social following, and a cookbook now under his belt, anyone might wonder what comes next for the 20-year-old wunderkind. “Writing a book was no easy feat, so the first thing I’m going to do now is relax. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Ree Drummond, it’s that there’s a lot of things you can do with a love for food, so I can’t wait for what’s in store.”
You can bake Eitan’s bourbon brown butter chocolate chunk cookies for the perfect impress-your-guests party or holiday dessert. They’re everything you love about your childhood cookies but with a decadent, gooey, grown-up twist.
Reprinted with permission from Eitan Eats the World. Copyright © 2022 by Eitan Bernath. Photography Copyright © 2022 by Mark Weinberg. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House
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