Moshe Grundman, Executive Chef at Nerai in NYC

A graduate of the prestigious French Culinary Institute in New York City, he's worked in Michelin-starred restaurants before becoming the Executive Chef at Nerai.
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Moshe Grundman has been the Executive Chef at Nerai since November 2017. Born and raised in Jerusalem, Moshe developed a love of cooking at an early age from his father. He's a graduate of the prestigious French Culinary Institute in New York City, and prior to Nerai, he worked as the Sous Chef at Michelin-starred Oceana and headed his own kitchen at Sixty5 On Main in Nyack, New York. Moshe brings with him a unique style of cooking, expertise with exotic and high-quality ingredients, and influence from various cultures around the Mediterranean.

Tell us a little bit about yourself (and you can start at the beginning!) - how did you find your way into the kitchen at Nerai?

I was always interested in different cuisines. I have worked in Italian, French, and American kitchens, yet I always found myself wanting to go back to Mediterranean cuisine, having been born and raised in Jerusalem. I was fortunate to have been offered an opportunity to work in a Greek contemporary restaurant, so I traveled to Greece to further explore the culture and the food to help better prepare me for working in a Greek kitchen.

What do you love about Greek cuisine in particular?

I love the freshness of the cuisine, the flavors, the textures and the diversity of ingredients. I like that you don’t need to alter much or add a bunch to the food. I aim to present the basics of Greek cuisine while elevating the flavors and essence of each dish.

"I love the freshness of Greek cuisine, the flavors, the textures and the diversity of ingredients."

Tell us a little bit about your creative process in the kitchen. Where do you draw inspiration?

My inspiration comes from basic Greek cuisine and recipes. At Nerai, we offer a contemporary and modern twist on Greek cuisine. I take basic recipes and add a unique Mediterranean flair, thus elevating the dishes to a level of a fine dining experience.

We’re always so captivated by what chefs cook for themselves - what are your go-to meals that you make for yourself?

I love simple food, like fried chicken, schnitzel, and mashed potatoes. Similarly, I love street food, my mother’s food, and my family’s food. I have been harvesting figs from my garden and making fig water with honey, green fig leaf gelato and white fig leaf gelato.

Sounds delicious! Where are your go-to’s that you order from?

My go-to’s are barbacoa tacos from the La Esquina, and takoyaki & katsu curry from Mei Jen Ramen.

If you weren’t an executive chef, what do you think you’d be doing?

If I wasn’t an Executive Chef in New York City, I would be a farmer, growing fruits and vegetables. I have a small garden at home where I grow 5 varieties of figs from different countries, a pomegranate tree, lemons, mandarins, tomatoes, pumpkins and fresh herbs, including lemon verbena, basil, and mint.

What would you say is the most surprising thing about running a restaurant in New York City?

Running a restaurant in New York City is full of surprises everyday. It is very challenging and in any given day can bring up many surprises.

Given the current climate right now, we've been thinking about you and everyone in your industry. We're sending lots of hugs from afar.

This is indeed a very difficult and uncertain time for everybody. So many people have lost their jobs or saw their lives completely change in only a few days. Each one of us is different and reacts to catastrophes differently, but this is a real catastrophe. I keep cooking at home for my loved ones, trying to challenge myself to keep cooking creatively. Food brings people together, and sharing your love with food is a positive message. We must go through the storm in order to be stronger, and be ready to start over once all of this is over!

"Food brings people together, and sharing your love with food is a positive message."

Thanks so much, Moshe! To best support folks in the restaurant industry during these challenging times, please consider purchasing a gift card for future use or ordering takeout, if you are able. Stay well and stay safe!

Discover Moshe's Lists in Compell'd
March 19, 2020

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