Behind the Meze with Chef Bahr Rapaport from Mezetto Julie May 2, 2015 Behind the Kitchen, Brunch, Dinner, Featured, Gluten Free Options, Lower East Side, Lunch, Neighborhoods, Restaurants Chef Bahr Rapaport, originally from New Jersey, had dreams of being a chef ever since he was a young boy. His mother even framed one of his elementary drawings depicting him as a cartoon with the written words “I want to be a chef”. (See below) Cooking for his family always came naturally to him, but we’re happy he’s decided to take his talents outside of the home and into Mezetto for all of us to enjoy. I recently had the privilege of sitting down with Chef Bahr to talk everything from his love of Schnitzel to his passion for being in the kitchen. Do you remember your earliest food memory? It would have to be my Grandma’s schnitzel. She would make it with plain pasta and ketchup. That simple. But not American ketchup, this was Israeli ketchup, which was perfectly sweet, and tasted just like fresh tomatoes. When I was younger I spent a lot of time at my Grandma’s in Israel, pickling during the summer. And at my other Grandma’s I learned how to bake cakes. Cooking was always just part of my life, it seemed natural. Chef Bahr, Describe your ideal food day Oh It’s gonna be a long day. I’d wake up and have the 2 egg special on an everything bagel from Tenafly Hot Bagels. I’d then make my way to Roman Inn in Engelwood for a large cold cuts sandwich with all the works. Then over to Upstate for the best oysters in the city. And if I somehow saved room for anything else, I’d have to end the day with the Ribeye from BLT prime. Currently what is your favorite ingredient to cook with? Right now I’m into a bit of a spice kick, so it’d have to be homemade harissa. I’ve found that it can dramatically change the flavor of a dish. And the sweet meets heat thing, I’m into it. It really wakes up the senses. What do you most look forward to about summer/spring, in terms of food and cooking? I always look forward to changing the menu, it’s always a lot of fun for me. I believe that the next menu is the best version of myself. I’m always evolving. The more I cook, the more I learn about the environment and I become a better chef in return. I look forward to the next season because it’s my time to make something better. My next menu is always the best. What trends are you seeing in the industry that you’re most excited about? Mediterranean cuisine is becoming a serious contender in the industry as a cuisine many people are starting to desire. What are your favorite cities for food? Any favorite places? Tel Aviv. There’s this place Café Noir that has the best schnitzel. There’s also this small city in Spain, Conil de la frontera, between Cadiz and Sevilla, where I had the best seafood of my life, and I love seafood. Chef Bahr continuously challenges himself in the kitchen, creating unique dishes with flavor combinations from all over the world. Be sure to check out his seasonal culinary creations over at Mezetto.