Being part of a company that manages the social media profiles of various restaurants in the New York City area, I have come to realize that being on Instagram or scrolling through my personal camera album means getting hungry – mouth-wateringly, jaw-droppingly hungry. Even a simple task such as logging into facebook, I usually come face to face with a photograph of a beautifully plated chicken in a wine sauce, simmering with vegetables and a sliced baguette ready for immediate immersion in the sauce. To me, haute cuisine has become something I stare at every day, and the chefs that create it are elements that I simply take for granted. It’s no surprise, then, that my eyes are naturally drawn towards posts from friends that include rather amateur cooking – a bowl of quinoa decorated with multiple smiley faces and hashtags saying “#healthyeating” or “#roomatedinner.” Such posts definitely stand out on a newsfeed constantly bombarded with filet mignons from upscale nyc restaurants. Discerning between my clients’ cooking and my friends was not a task, but rather something that came as second nature. But the food on Kaps Kuisine started to make me doubt my senses.
Pepper crusted Tuna with cucumbers, citrus, mango, and a homemade asian style sauce that looks like it was plated by a sous chef in one of New York City’s finest rooftop steak houses (any other qualifiers we could use here? Oh… a steakhouse that spins and has a guy in the bathroom that folds your towels for you) is one of the latest photos that my friend Max Kapelus has uploaded to his facebook page “Kaps Kuisine.” I was so interested to find out at which restaurant he was employed, and where he was eventually planning to go to culinary school. At drinks last week, I found out that this talent was completely self-taught and self-sustained… and it was all thanks to dating the love of his life and moving off-campus in college.
In the never-ending winter that comes along with a Binghamton University education (yes, you get graded in how well you endure the snow), Max found it really hard to both keep kosher and live off campus. Growing up in an orthodox household, Max never really had access to some of the more high-end restaurants and well known chefs that have only made a splash in the kosher world in the past few years. He did, however, have memories of cooking in the kitchen with his family. It was this combination of simple techniques coupled with new cookbook purchases like “The French Laundry” and “Eleven Madison Park” that allowed Max to start experimenting in the kitchen. The kitchen became a place where he could show his love for his girlfriend, now wife, Shani, and where he could bond with her and get to know more about his hobby. Before long, he created an instagram and a facebook page as the face of his new cooking hobby. Kaps Kuisine was born after the last ingredient was added: Max was hired to cater a birthday party of 10 people, and fell in love with the rush and the heat of the kitchen.
If Max spent the better parts of 2016 perfecting his talents to be able to make a beautiful plate of sous-vide short ribs with a red wine glaze, I can only imagine where he’ll be by this time in 2017. His December calendar is already filling up. If you live in the NYC-Long Island metropolitan area, book Max for your next event now.