I see that your mother is from Egypt and father from Poland. Were you a first generation American? Do you have brothers/sisters and do they love cooking as well?
Yes, I am a first generation American. I have two younger siblings: my sister Rachel who is three years younger, and my brother Ezra who is eight years younger. I can definitely say that while Ezra enjoys eating (albeit, he is a very picky eater) he'll cook when there's nobody around who can. My sister is much more comfortable in the kitchen and has been much more proactive about cooking on her own.
Where were you born and brought up?
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, in what is now known as the Madison neighborhood. Growing up, it had a largely Ashkenazi presence but in the last 10-15 years or so, a distinctly Sephardic community has developed.
Would you share some additional information on your mother's favorite traditional Middle Eastern/Sephardic dishes -
It's really anything that does not take too many steps to prepare! Recurring dishes that I know she truly enjoys are her Bamya dish - a tangy tomato sauce braised baby okra, as well as her Bangar - thinly sliced and steamed red beets in their own juice. Sometimes, the Bangar comes out like jam it's so good! My mom, when she's really feeling up to it though, will make a giant pot of Melokhia - a soup whose origins can be traced back to Ancient Egypt and has since become widely-adopted throughout the rest of the Arab Middle Eastern world.
Did you enjoy your experience on Chopped?
I had such an amazingly good time on the show! Truly from beginning to end the whole experience: from the filming of my background at the JCC of Manhattan all the way through the actual competition itself and even interacting with the judges.
Did you agree with the Judge