Chocolate babka (above) is one of the specialties at the new Eizenshtein’s Bakery.
I was thrilled to hear a couple of weeks ago that a chef friend of mine was about to open his own bakery. Naturally, I had to get the inside scoop.
Israeli-born Johnny Eizenshtein moved to the States two years ago, when he was 23 years old, in search of a new opportunity. I met Johnny through a mutual friend shortly after his arrival in New York and was immediately intrigued by his passion for cooking. He never went to culinary school, instead learning his craft by working at restaurants and bakeries in Israel, where he focused on French-style techniques.
“I’ve been working in the kitchen since I was 14 years old,” he said. Apparently, his talent was clear: He quickly landed the position as head chef at Harlem’s .
Johnny Eizenshtein, part owner and head baker at Eizenshtein’s.
About six months ago, Eizenshtein and two of his buddies became aware of the need for a kosher bakery near Yeshiva University, where a lot of Jewish students reside. One of these friends, Benjamin Izsak, owns Golan Heights Israeli Grill & Restaurant in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood, and it’s no coincidence that Eizenshtein’s Bakery was set up right next door.
Eizenshtein is the main baker at the new shop, where he makes challah for Shabbat, French-style cakes and cookies and an assortment of dairy-free, nut-free and gluten-free goodies.
He says his specialty is cinnamon babka. “I can also make vegan babka,” he said.
For Purim, Eizenshtein is whipping up hamantaschen with chocolate, raspberry jam and vanilla cream.
Eizenshtein’s, at 2541Amsterdam Avenue, is now officially open and will operate Sunday through Friday afternoons.
Jean Hanks is the food intern at the Forward.