TikTok Star Eitan Bernath’s New Cookbook Will Take You on a Culinary Journey

published Oct 26, 2021
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Eitan Bernath
Credit: Mark Weinberg

If you’ve been one to frequent TikTok over the last few years, you know there’s no shortage of recipes and hacks to come across. From using a lot of garlic for a delicious soup to learning how to bake the perfect cookie, there’s always something new to discover from social media’s breakout platform.

While there are plenty of culinary content creators who have delivered drool-worthy and lip-smacking recipes that everyone has wanted to try, one particular chef that social media has taken to is Eitan Bernath — a 19-year-old who creates pure magic in the kitchen. But don’t let his young age and love for social media fool you: This Gen-Zer has actually been professionally cooking since he was 12.

Appearing on an episode of Food Network’s Chopped in 2014, the now well-known culinary prodigy regularly finds himself receiving thousands of likes on his Instagram posts and tens of thousands of views on his TikTok videos. Regularly going viral for his tasty creations, Eitan — who also doubles as the Principal Culinary Contributor for The Drew Barrymore Show — is now ready to take his journey in the cooking world to the next level with the release of his first cookbook: Eitan Eats the World: New Comfort Classics to Cook Right Now.

Featuring 85 fresh comfort food recipes, the new cookbook — which Eitan notes is an effort to take his audience and readers along a journey to learn about the world through food — will feature the same high-energy creativity and culinary enthusiasm fans see in all of his videos. And to prepare for its May 2022 release, the lovable chef gave Kitchn the opportunity to chat with him about all that it took to create this soon-to-be kitchen classic.

Credit: Penguin Random House

What helped you home in on your love for food?
When I was growing up, both of my parents worked in education and they taught me and my brother about the world through food. We grew up on two teachers’ salaries, but we went to a lot of different restaurants and my parent’s would make those learning experiences to teach us about the socioeconomic landscape in those countries and how that affects the food, the agriculture, and the geography. So Eitan Eats the World is me trying to get my audience and the readers to learn about the world through eating as well, and take them along on that journey with me.

What was the moment that made you realize “Hey, I need to put this stuff into a cookbook”?
Throughout my entire life, I’ve been a very big cookbook consumer. I have always collected cookbooks, loved cooking from cookbooks, and read cookbooks like they were literal books from page one until the end. For me, ever since I got into cooking when I was around 8 or 9 years old, it has always been one of my ultimate dreams. As a young kid, I told my parents that I would write a cookbook one day and tried to learn as much as I could about cookbooks so that when the day came that I had the opportunity to write a cookbook, I would be well-equipped. Now, I feel extremely fortunate and grateful to be able to have the opportunity to write a cookbook at 19. That’s probably a little earlier than little Eitan thought he’d have the opportunity to and I just cannot be more excited and honored to bring my perspective to the cookbook space.

How do you deal with people who tell you that you’re too young to know about food?
I started working professionally when I was 12, so I am very used to people underestimating me because of my age. For me, I just try to go in with a sense of confidence and understanding that people feel that way because it’s different. Also, just making sure to own what you do know and own what you don’t know and understand that I’m not looking to be Gordon Ramsay right now. I’m not looking to be this super highly trained, culinary authority with years and years of experience. I’m looking to be and trying to be Eitan. I’m 19, I’ve been cooking since I was 8 or 9, working professionally in food media since I was 12, and this book is really my perspective on food. But I have been cooking for some time and I really think my perspective on food can bring value to someone who’s just getting started in the kitchen or someone who’s been cooking for years in the kitchen. I’m very excited to bring that fun energy that I bring on-camera into people’s kitchens through the pages of my book.

Out of all the recipes in your cookbook, what’s the one that you’re looking forward to everyone trying the most?
I think my favorite recipe would be my PB&J Pancakes. One of my very unpopular opinions is that I do not like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; I frequently like to say that I’m the problem, not the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches [laughs]. But one of my missions is to make cooking fun for people. For so many people, cooking is something they don’t want to do, so my real goal is just to get people to have fun in the kitchen. And I think the perfect example of that is this recipe. It was like I know I don’t like peanut butter and jelly, so how can I make myself like this combo? I know I love pancakes. So, I made a pancake with peanut butter in it and made a really delicious berry jelly to put on top of that. I loved it and it was delicious. It was just a really fun experience of making something out of peanut butter and jelly that I actually loved and I think it’s the perfect recipe and example of what I’ve tried to do with the book. I want the people cooking recipes from my book to have fun while they’re doing it and enjoy the cooking process.

Do you have anything in particular that you like to do while cooking to keep the inspiration flowing?
Definitely love blasting music in the kitchen because that is always the most fun. Music is really important, but I also think experimenting is, too. There are a bunch of recipes in this book that are super approachable for people who are less comfortable in the kitchen, but at the same time, there are a bunch of recipes that are meant to push people a little out of their food comfort zone. So, I think it’s just about taking on a new challenge.

Credit: Mark Weinberg

What are two flavor combinations you used that turned out to be unexpectedly delicious in this cookbook?
This is not specifically in the book, but one flavor combination that I do love is adding cheese into ramen. I believe it’s done traditionally in South Korea. It’s delicious and fun. I’m writing cookbooks and I cook fancy food, but we all have those times where we need something easy, like adding cheese into instant ramen.

Is there a particular type of cheese or are we just talking traditional Kraft Singles cheese?
We’re talking about whatever cheese is in the fridge [laughs]. Whatever you have. Whether that’s American or Swiss. Really, anything. I’m not judging any type of cheese you put in your ramen. I support all types of cheese. [laughs].

But I did just think of one from the book that was surprisingly delicious, too. I added olives into pesto. One day, I just thought to myself, What if olive tapenade and pesto were combined? Something about those flavors — to me — just feels like they would work. And I tried it and now it’s in the book and it’s one of my favorite ways to have pesto. We’re not releasing the name of that recipe just yet, so that’ll be something to look forward to when the book releases.

What’s the first recipe you suggest that people try out if this is the first cookbook they’re picking up?
I honestly think the PB&J Pancakes recipe is a really great one for people to start out with. Because of my background and the following I have on social media, a lot of my followers — especially on platforms like TikTok — are probably on the younger side and haven’t bought a cookbook yet. So one of my goals with this cookbook is to be able to reach some of the audiences that typically are not cookbook purchasers like the younger audience that might not cook often or are just starting to get interested in cooking because of the people like me that they follow on TikTok. The PB&J Pancake recipe is the perfect example of a recipe for someone new in the kitchen. It has familiar flavorsk so you’re not totally pushing yourself out of your eating comfort zone, but it’s done in a way that maybe you haven’t quite done yet. And pancakes are super easy to make.

What was the cookbook that encouraged you to start cooking?
I think the first cookbook I remember getting was Guy Fieri’s. At the time, a lot of people questioned why I was cooking and telling me that cooking wasn’t cool. I think Guy was the person who inspired me to say, Well, wait, cooking is cool and this is my thing. He really inspired me to own my passion of cooking and be confident in it. I literally owned every single one of his cookbooks. He really got me excited about cooking as a kid and taught me how to have fun in the kitchen.

If you had the opportunity to cook dinner for five people, who would they be and why?
I love that you gave me five people because one would be really difficult [laughs]. First, would be Cardi B. My cat is named after her. I love Cardi B; she is one of my favorite humans and I think she’s the funniest person on earth. So definitely Cardi B would be at that dinner table and hopefully provide the entertainment. After Cardi B, I definitely think Guy Fieri would be a fun addition to the mix. Billie Eilish for sure because I love Billie. Tiffany Haddish, too. We’re already Instagram friends, so I feel like that may actually be doable. And, the final would be Gordon Ramsay. I interviewed him on The Drew Barrymore Show and told him it was one of my goals in life to be yelled at by him. So I would love to cook for him and no matter how good I make it, I’m sure he’d yell at me about something. And I would absolutely love that.

What can we look forward to in this next phase of life you’re embarking on?
I’m really excited to have a very physical way to place a piece of me in the kitchens of my audience. I have a lot of really fun content coming along with the book and I documented a lot of the process. I’m really bad at keeping my own secrets, so keeping this book a secret for over a year has been quite the challenge because I just wanted to tell everyone. So, I have captured so much content around this release. I’m really excited to release that content and bring everyone along with me through the process because I wouldn’t have this opportunity if it weren’t for the people who’ve supported everything I’ve done. Obviously, I wrote the cookbook, but it’s inspired by all the food I’ve eaten and everyone I’ve interacted with and to be able to show that to my audience, really excites me. I hope that everyone enjoys that and feels like they’re part of the process because they truly were.

Eitan Eats the World: New Comfort Classics to Cook Right Now doesn’t hit shelves until May 3, 2022, but pre-orders are available now.