Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

Tu B’Chef

A ‘Top Chef’ star takes on Tu B’Shevat

Print Email

Eli Kirshtein, Rabbi Ari Gross, and Top Chef winner Hung Huynh in the kitchen at Solo.
(Len Small/Tablet Magazine)

Growing up in Atlanta, Eli Kirshtein was more interested in pork than in pomegranate, figs, and other staples of Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish celebration of nature and trees. In fact, Kirshtein, who appeared on the recent season of the Bravo reality show Top Chef—he finished fifth—had little idea that Tu B’Shevat existed until Tablet Magazine presented him with a take on the quickfire challenge and asked him to create a menu for the holiday.

Kirshtein, currently cooking at Solo, a kosher restaurant in midtown Manhattan, took the challenge head-on, brushed up on his Mishnah, and made us a dish as scrumptious as it is symbolic. Such studious cooking, he says, is what life is like outside of the mercurial environment of reality television.

“I think the main thing you got to remember about Top Chef is that it’s more Top Cook,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about food cost, labor cost…. A New York City kitchen is a really difficult thing, because the clientele is so demanding and the food public really knows what’s quality versus what’s gimmick.”

Click below to watch Kirshtein ply his craft, and scroll down for the recipe.

Eli Kirshtein’s Tu B’Shevat Persimmon Salad

2 Fuyu persimmons
1 can ginger ale
2 tablespoons marcona almonds
2 tablespoons cocoa nibs
5 leaves Belgian endive
10 leaves tarragon
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon yuzo juice
1 tablespoon white truffle oil
Sea salt, to taste

1. Peel persimmons and punch out with a ring-cutter. Place the remaining scraps in a blender and add ginger ale as needed, until the puree is smooth. Slice the punched-out persimmons into rounds.

2. In a separate bowl, mix the yuzu juice, truffle oil, and honey, stirring until the vinaigrette is unified.

3. Using a spoon, smear a stripe of the puree onto a large plate. Place fresh marcona almonds and cocoa nibs on top of the stripe, and add two or three leaves of endive, and four or five leaves of tarragon on top. Line the sliced persimmons on the plate, and dress with the vinaigrette. Season with salt.

Serves two.

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Tu B’Chef

A ‘Top Chef’ star takes on Tu B’Shevat

More on Tablet:

A Grandfather’s Hidden Love Letters From Nazi Germany Reveal a Buried Past

By Vox Tablet — Reporter Sarah Wildman’s grandfather escaped Vienna in 1938. Long after he died, she discovered the life—and lover—he left behind.