Chef Spotlight: Executive Chef Eli Buliskeria of BUSTAN on the Upper West Side
After a long wait, BUSTAN, the popular Upper West Side Israeli Mediterranean restaurant owned by Tuvia Feldman, is back and firing on all cylinders with a fresh new culinary team and menu. BUSTAN, which suffered a devastating fire a few months back, is a neighborhood treasure that will now be newly helmed by Executive Chef Eli Buliskeria and Pastry Chef Shir Rozenblat. The couple's menus are a simple, yet masterful melding of Israeli and Mediterranean dishes that are layered with flavor and texture.
Executive Chef Eli Buliskeria started his culinary career in the Israeli army at just 18, when he served as a cook in the Combat Engineer Unit for three years stirring his passion for the culinary arts. After the army, Eli went to work to learn everything he could about the art of cooking. He worked under Chef Victor Gloger at Choelys in Tel Aviv before meeting his mentor Chef Yonatan Roshfeld from Herbert Samuel restaurant, who also serves as a judge on the popular Israel iteration of TV's Master Chef. He began his New York career at the Paper Factory Hotel in Long Island City.
Broadwayworld.com had the pleasure of interviewing Chef Eli about his career and BUSTAN for our "Chef Spotlight."
What was your earliest interest in cooking?
My earliest interest in cooking was in the Israeli army. As a soldier I was a little problematic, it was hard for me to find my place there. But in the end I found my place and my quietness from cooking in the army kitchen. I really enjoyed cooking for the fighters returning from the field and enjoying my food. I took it very seriously, it was important to me.
Who were some of your career mentors?
My career mentor was Yonatan Roshfeld who also serves as a judge on the popular Israel iteration of TV's Master Chef, at the world-famous Herbert Samuel at Tel Aviv. Yonatan Roshfeld is more than a mentor, he is a friend. He taught me everything I needed to know and took me under his wing. Working with him was a great honor for me.
What culinary styles have influenced your career?
The culinary style that influences my career the most is Mediterranean style cuisine. I love the wide range between Italian, French, and Greek style. Kitchens with lots of simplicity, freshness and seasonality.
What do you consider the most distinguishing features of your work as a chef?
The most distinguishing features of my work as a chef is that I am very passionate of what I do and totally committed to perfecting my cuisine. It is very characteristic of me. There are no shortcuts in my kitchen and my cooks know and feel it from the first second. Always strives for excellence.
What is your favorite meal?
My favorite meal is family food. I like to see the whole team relax and sit down to eat together as a family, and it also gives my cooks the opportunity to express themselves and cook what they love.
Tell me a little about your restaurant for our readers.
BUSTAN is a fun neighborhood restaurant with a great atmosphere. It's a new Israeli kitchen that also includes Mediterranean style cuisine. The menu is light and fresh but in the same breath full of dominant flavors. We highly recommend sharing the food exactly as we like to eat in Israel, as a family.
BUSTAN is located at 487 Amsterdam Avenue, near W. 84th Street. Visit: www.bustannyc.com or call 212-595-5050. Hours of operation: Sun.-Thurs. 5pm-10pm, Fri. & Sat. 5pm-11pm. Enclosed garden seating and brunch will be launching soon.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of BUSTAN