What do you say when you have 30 minutes to interview a cool-girl-slash-chef who you’ve fangirl’ed over for years? A few stupid things — no doubt — but also, you ask the things you’ve always wanted to know: Where do you find inspiration? How do you balance it all? Where’d you get that rug?

I knew my conversation with Eden Grinshpan would be relaxed and relatable, but one Bachelor reference and lots of restaurant mentions later, we officially entered did-we-just-become-best-friends territory. Then again, you can’t help but get the feeling Eden has that effect on everyone. Sure, she’s kind of a big deal, but she keeps it real. And when it comes to the challenges of being a mom, a restaurant owner, a blogger and a TV host, Eden’s an open book (spoiler: it’s not as easy as social media would have you think.)

As hard as it is to balance her many projects and passions, if there’s one thing Eden does with ease, it’s whipping up a meal in a flash. Seasonal ingredients and fresh herbs have a permanent residency in the cookbook filled Grinshpan-Nivron kitchen, and they come together on a nightly basis to form simple, yet unforgettable dinners. Still not convinced? Read on for an exclusive look at how Eden Grinshpan entertains.

What’s your go-to source for recipe inspiration?

I definitely get a lot of inspiration from cookbooks. Some of my favorites are Jerusalem and Zahav, and I love Cook Beautiful and Dining In. I also pull a lot of inspiration from my travels and growing up in Israel.

It’s a bold statement, I know, but I would argue that the Israeli cuisine is the best in the world. How does it inspire your cooking?

Well, I grew up going to Israel every summer. I stayed in Tel Aviv where my family has an apartment, and we would just have the best time. I spend a lot of time at Shuk Hacarmel, where there are beautiful, small family-run restaurants and businesses alongside the market. Some of the best Yemen food, the best hummus, delicious kabobs. I love just going from place-to-place, eating small little meals throughout my time the market.

Sounds like my dream meal! What are some other favorite spots to eat in Tel Aviv?

I love North Abraxas — Ido and I go on date nights there, sit at the bar, get a bottle of wine and just eat like crazy. We go to town! It’s one of our favorites. Port Said is a favorite as well, it’s so much fun! Chef Eyal Shani does an exceptional job.

What’s always in your refrigerator?

Tahini and Greek Yogurt. Plus lots of herbs — fresh parsley, dill, mint, basil. And on my kitchen counter I always have tons of lemon.

Two years ago you became a mother. Nearly one year ago you opened your first restaurant, DEZ. How has juggling all your roles affected your cooking style?

When I’m not a DEZ, I’m either shooting or working on other projects. So the days are pretty busy, meaning when I do get to finally cook at home, it’s something that I can whip up easily. I like to keep the standards in my fridge — Ido and I will do a big shop of vegetables and herbs every week, and have our basics like tahini and yogurt on hand. During the week I might pick up some protein here and there — some sort of fish or chicken — and we either make a big salad, or some roasted veggies with tahini, and then I’ll make chimichurri or salsa verde to keep it simple and bright. Something that has a lot of freshness to it.

And how about entertaining? What does that look like these days?

It’s been pretty intimate recently, but Ido and I are making an effort to have more people over, especially now that it’s winter and we have an almost two year old. Bringing people over to hang out and eat good food is exactly what we both want to be doing. We’re also OK with ordering in. We’re not against that.

Tell us more about DEZ. It sounds like exactly the type of place we need here in Austin.

DEZ is a Middle Eastern fast casual restaurant in Nolita. I partnered on it with Samantha Wasser who is co-founder and creative director. We’ve been open for eight months now, and it’s been a dream come true. Opening a restaurant is always something I’ve wanted to do, so the fact that it’s up and running, and that I get to share food that I cook at home for my friends and family with New York feels really special to me.

What’s your biggest pet peeve while entertaining?

My biggest pet peeve is when people don’t treat my home like theirs. I go out of my way to try and make things imperfect! I want it all to feel warm and welcoming. I like to serve my food in my Le Creuset directly on the table. I hand out serving spoons and I want people to help themselves.

I’m not a “seated dinner with place settings” kind of entertainer. I’m like a “Welcome to my home. It’s your home now. Treat it that way and make yourself comfortable” kind of entertainer.

What are you preparing today?

This cauliflower dish is inspired by our Cauliflower Meze at DEZ. The only difference is that I put a garlicky tahini underneath, and I put the capers into the chimichurri. Then I finish it with fresh dill.

I’ve also made this beautiful fresh carrot salad that I like to make at home for my family. I julienne carrots and serve it with an aleppo citrus vinaigrette, some dates, red onion and crushed walnut.

Do you have a rule that you live by when it comes to balancing work, with family and friends?

I feel very fortunate to have so many opportunities come my way, but it’s all about learning how to time manage which is very difficult. I’m still learning this because I do want to have a good quality of my personal life along with my professional life. And I try to make a conscious effort — I try not to answer too many emails when I’m with my daughter. I like to be as present as possible, focusing on what I’m doing.

Honestly, I’m not perfect. All everyone sees are the things that are working out for you on Instagram, but I’ve had a lot of fails. It’s OK that things don’t work out perfectly. I think it’s a good thing.

The juggle is real. And trying to stay present, no matter the situation, is something we always try to do as well. 

I’ve gotten over FOMO, I think. I used to have more FOMO and now it’s like, “You know what, I’d rather be on my couch.” My Bachelor nights are like… I look forward to that all week.

Next, we have to ask about your amazing apartment. We love the colorful-yet-minimal look of it. How do you approach decorating?

You know, my husband and I are like, insanely obsessed with rugs. And I find our rugs kind of dictate the look and feel of our spaces. We start there, and then we work our way around the rug. Crazy.

Not crazy at all, that’s how I am with my shoes!

Exactly. I feel like if your floors are taken care of, everything else kind of falls into place, especially if your carpets are unique and special with a lot of character. You can go simple with your furniture, and the rug can really be the star! We’ve collected ours over time. Our first rug is this beautiful old Persian in the doorway of our apartment. That was the first big purchase that Ido and I made as a couple. It’s something we’re going to have for the rest of our lives, and it’s something that will never go out of style. I’m not a designer so I have to use what I’ve got. I feel like this is something that I’ve been able to work with.

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Photographer

Winnie Au