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The brothers are working on a follow up—This is a Cookbook Too—which will be released this coming fall, and so they're in a frenzy of recipe-testing and experimental cooking, all of which they do in the spacious, light-filled apartment they share in south Williamsburg with their canine friend, Murphy. Eli explains to me, “It’s basically making really good food accessible—it’s for people who cook alone or for people who entertain. Nothing in here is going to be an eighty-step process. It’s not a restaurant cookbook and it’s not a chef cookbook.”
On the day I visited Max and Eli, they were trying out two recipes; a rye berry salad with strawberries, parmesan, and fried shallots, and a watermelon salad with a sesame oil, ginger, and sriracha dressing accompanied by scallions. I stuffed my face. It was heaven. It was so easy to imagine perfect meal after perfect meal at the long, wooden table in the Sussman apartment, and so for a second, I was lost in the fantasy of having the kind of life where two brothers who also happen to be amazing chefs could just throw me the scraps of whatever inspired meals they happened to be whipping up. To torment myself with the thought of all the amazing food I was missing, I asked Max and Eli what kind of food they are most likely to cook at home. Their answers brought me right back to reality.
“Oh, I never cook at home,” said Max. “This is one of the worst cities to force yourself to cook in.”
“Right,” agreed Eli. “We’re testing the recipes, I don’t really consider it cooking.”
Which, in my experience, tends to be the across-the-board sentiment of most chefs. Cooking is their profession, cooking is their passion, but it isn’t something they do for pleasure. Or, at least, not for their own pleasure. Max has been hosting an at-home supper club recently, and the ever-evolving menu is scrawled on a chalkboard that leans up against a kitchen wall—for example, dessert is deep-fried tahini ice cream—and I slip once again into the fantasy world of having the Sussman brothers cook like this for me every night. But even if that fantasy never becomes a reality, I can at least be satisfied with the knowledge that I now know to add salt-and-vinegar potato chips to my schnitzel breading and that, for one afternoon, I got to perch myself at the best seat in the house and fill my mouth with the salty, sweet flavors of sesame and watermelon, strawberries and parmesan. And, cookbook in hand, I am confident that I can make the same dishes at home for myself. Although if I ever get another invitation to the Sussman brothers’ apartment? I’m taking it. You should too, because, deep-fried tahini ice cream? You don’t want to miss that.
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At Home with the Sussman Brothers