Okay, so despite all of the miraculous technology we’ve got these days, it is still not possible for a man to be a mother. But that doesn’t mean that a man can’t mother the friends and family around him. And when the medium of that mothering is food, the whole world becomes your family. Right, bubbeleh?
There was never a question in anyone’s mind that Mitchell Davis would grow up to do something related to food. By the age of three you couldn’t contain him in a restaurant, where he’d mix the condiments on the table into disgusting but creative concoctions. By 15 he was catering bar mitzvahs and special events with his sister, Carrie. At 16 he began working in a Jewish butcher shop, and just six months later he was stocking the refrigerator shelves at the shop with jars of his homemade chicken soup. From Toronto it was onto Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration, a year cooking in Paris — he completed a “stage” (apprenticeship) at the famed La Tour d’Argent. Next, Italy. While attending cooking school in Torino and working in at Ristorante Balbo, Mitchell was earned the moniker “Mamma Mitch.” On Sundays he’d use up leftover truffles and artichokes and game birds by preparing soups and stews and fresh pastas for his colleagues and friends.
For all of his international cooking and eating experience, however, it’s delicious Jewish food that Mitchell finds the most satisfying. Several years ago he set out to write a Jewish cookbook that would capture his joy and record the terrific recipes of his mother, Sondra. The result is The Mensch Chef, published by Clarkson Potter. And although Sondra didn’t live to see the book in print, her spirit lingers in the flavors and aromas of her thoroughly-unkosher-but-delicious recipes.
When he isn’t impersonating a Jewish mother, Mitchell is director of publications of The James Beard Foundation in New York City. He regularly contributes articles on food, restaurants, and travel to publications such as GQ, Food & Wine, and Time Out New York. In his spare time, Mitchell is also (very slowly) completing a Ph.D. in New York University’s Department of Nutrition & Food Studies. It’s enough to make any real Jewish mother kvell.
So what are you waiting for? Eat!
Tuna Salad Sandwich
mitchell’s mom made this at least once a week, so we thought you should try it! with celery, onion, pickle, lemon & mayonnaise, served on whole wheat or white bread with lettuce, tomato & a side of pasta salad
Breaded Chicken Cutlet Smothered with Mushrooms & Onions
cooked with just a bissel schmaltz (a little chicken fat), served with spaetzle & sautéed spinach
Baked Fish in Sweet-and Sour Sauce
freshest fish of the day with onions, peppers, tomatoes, carrots & raisins, served with smashed red potatoes & sautéed spinach
Spicy Beef Brisket
slow-cooked braised brisket with a rich, barbecue-like sauce, served with smashed red potatoes & seasonal vegetables
New York-Style Cheesecake with Blueberry Sauce
“this is so rich, it should be served on a bagel!”