Meet Cooper: Jewish Home Chef of the Week

by Hannah Angerman / May 11, 2022

Introducing Cooper Boyar! Cooper hails from New York and is new-ish to the DC area. He loves to cook and experiment with new recipes and ingredients. Read the full interview to hear all about Cooper’s inventive Shabbat dinners, his favorite Jewish foods, and how he likes to spend his time outside of work.

Hannah: What brought you to DC? 

Work is the main thing that brought me to DC. I’ve been on the staff of J Street for a little over five years and I spent four and a half years in our Boston office before moving to my current position here. At my current job most of my time is devoted to recruiting and taking members of Congress on our trips to Israel and the West Bank. I’m still new-ish to the area.

Hannah: Could you describe your dream day in the DMV from start to finish?

Cooper: The day that I have the most routine is Shabbat. I usually wake up my roommates and walk to shul. My ideal day would involve davening (Yiddish for praying or participating in prayer services), having a nice group of people over for Shabbat lunch, some singing, and reading until Shabbat ends. Afterwards, I would go out for drinks and then go home to decompress and go to sleep. 

Hannah: What is one thing you can’t get through the day without?

Cooper: I need to read my news roundups every single morning. If my email isn’t at zero by the end of the day that needs to change and that I don’t leave the office before that happens. And I need some deep breathing before I go to bed.

Hannah: What’s one thing you do to relax or for fun at the end of the week?

Cooper: I love having three or four hours Thursday night to cook and prep for Shabbat. I listen to music or a podcast and try to forget that there’s a world around me. I like to cook new foods and take risks with recipes that might not work out perfectly. I’m also working on not cooking way too much food.

Hannah: What are some of your favorite foods to cook?

Cooper: I’m vegetarian and I love dairy – so I cook a lot of dairy foods. I made a savory mushroom bread pudding recently that I liked a lot. I have a pesto white bean soup that I want to make this week. I made caramelized shallots recently. And I made poached pears with vanilla —that’s what I make when I want to impress people.

Hannah: Do you have a favorite Jewish food?

Cooper: I make shakshuka for myself every single week. That’s my comfort food. I can make it in 10 or 15 minutes and I over spice it to the point where my whole kitchen smells. I love it. I love charoset too. 

Hannah: Have you picked up any fun pandemic hobbies over the past couple of years?

Cooper: This is less of a hobby but because I grew up in New York City I never learned how to drive. In early 2021 I finally learned! It’s so great and I finally understand why every 16 year old in this country is really excited about learning to drive.

Hannah: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Cooper: My old boss said her way of getting something that you want is to be pleasantly persistent. And I think about that a lot. 

Hannah: What’s something people might be surprised to learn about you?

Cooper: I journal every night and write three good things that happen every single day and three things  I did that I’m proud of.

Hannah: Last but not least, complete this sentence: When the Jews of DC gather…

Cooper: People play Jewish geography until they figure out it’s not awkward.

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