Spots like Mug and Mason and Pardes have brought fine kosher cuisine to hipster Brooklyn over the last few years. But one ambitious chef is now extending the scene into the heart of Chez Panisse country. Isaac Bernstein and his Epic Bites catering are on a mission to prove that kosher food can be haimish and high quality, all at the same time.
The Jewish Daily Forward reports that Bernstein recently made an appearance in New York for a series of pop-up dinners. At the end of the week, he prepared dishes like pidgeon confit, snapper with smoked olives, and deep fried turkey balls.
Bernstein has also made a speciality of kosher charcuterie, like veal bacon and lamb pancetta.
Born in the ultra-Orthodox community in Monsey, New York, Bernstein fled to the city to study bread baking at the French Culinary Institute (he says this was a nod to his observant family, as it’s relatively easy to stay kosher while baking bread). Bernstein then worked at popular bakery Amy’s Bread and at the San Francisco Baking Institute, and with kosher dining expert chef Mike Gershkovich, formerly of Mike’s Bistro. Finally, Bernstein settled in Oakland, California to start his catering business.
Bernstein seems to have found a better fit on the West Coast. In fact, he cites Alice Waters’ famous restaurant as an inspiration, saying he would one day like to open “the kosher version of the upstairs cafe at Chez Panisse.”