November 13, 2021 At the Table
At the Table: Atara Bernstein of Pineapple Collaborative
By Sara Berks
What’s your name? Tell us about yourself.
I’m Atara. I’m 31, very into my dog Luna (she’s a pitbull/boxer mix), music (have recently been jamming to instrumental psychedelic tunes from the early 70s), art (I went to art school before getting into the food industry. I’ve been really inspired lately by Helen Frankenthaler’s work from the late 60s), nature, and most of all, FOOD. Food is the most important thing in my life and an endless source of inspiration. I love learning about food through history (check out EATEN MAG), the intersection of food and art, delving deep into the significance and source of a single product, learning about food justice and activism through food, and of course, cooking and eating too.
I’m also the co-founder and co-CEO of Pineapple Collaborative is a community for people who love food and a place for people to explore their style, identity, and values through food. We have pantry products made by women (The Olive Oil, The ACV and our latest product, The Salt), digital content like The Pantry where we peek into the kitchens of people we admire, a newsletter, and digital events.
What recipe are you sharing with us today?
The Olive Oil Mandel Bread
Why is this recipe special to you?
I love this dessert because it reminds me of Shabbat mornings with my family. My family observes Shabbat strictly, which means no phones, no TV, no emails, and no technology for 25 hours. Such mornings were often filled with sweet treats (like mandel bread, babka, or rugelach), strong coffee, books, great conversation and laughter.
Also…. This is a 1 bowl dessert! It’s very easy and showcases The Olive Oil beautifully.
The Olive Oil Mandel Bread
- 1 Cup of Sugar
- 3 Cups of Flour
- 4 Eggs
- 8 oz Walnuts, chopped
- 1 Cup of The Olive Oil
- 1 tsp of baking powder
- 1 tsp of Kosher Salt or The Salt
- 1 tsp of Vanilla
- 1 12oz bag of chocolate chips
Set the oven to 325 and prep a cookie sheet (ungreased). Mix all ingredients together in 1 bowl. You’re looking for a sticky dough. Form the dough into two loaves. Bake for 30-35 mins, then take the loaves out and cut the loaves into 1 inch slices (width-wise). Put the loaves back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
What does tradition mean to you? What traditions do you hold dear?
Tradition is a ritual that’s tied to meaning and community. My food traditions are shaped by my family and my experience growing up in a tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community, where food was the ultimate love language and ancestral thread. I don’t remember exactly how I learned to cook. There was no single moment in time where I sat down with the intention of honing any technical knowledge at all. It was the ritual of gathering every single week around the Shabbat table, and spending time with my Mom in the kitchen to prepare these sacred meals, where I became a self-taught cook entirely intuitively.
My most cherished traditions are around food rituals tied to my Jewish identity: spending a whole day making sufganiyot on Hanukkah, filling and shaping hamantaschen on Purim, or making olive oil mandel bread for shabbat.
Who will you be sharing this meal with?
My partner Benny and our best friends.
If you could have a meal with any three people, someone you know/don’t know/alive/dead, who would it be?
Georgia O’Keefe, Sally Rooney, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez