Where once there was glassware lining the shelves next to the bar at Café Standard in the East Village, now there are magnificent loaves of bread: miche, rugbrød, rye, even Japanese shokupan. This is the work of Max Blachman-Gentile, the chef-baker of the café and its neighboring restaurant, Narcissa. Of all the varieties baked daily and sold from noon on, the most distinctive is the kasha porridge bread, inspired by — believe it or not — kasha varnishkes, the buckwheat-and-bow-ties side dish that’s a staple of the Jewish soul-food repertoire. As a child, Blachman-Gentile was not a fan of the version made by one of his moms (he has two, one Jewish, the other Italian). In fact, he kind of loathed the stuff. But tastes change, and he’s come to not only embrace the flavors of buckwheat, onion, and schmaltz but translate them seamlessly into a delicious loaf of artisanal bread. What does mom think of it? “She loves it,” says Blachman-Gentile. “I mean, c’mon, she’s a proud Jewish mother.”
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At Café Standard; $9; 25 Cooper Sq., nr. 5th St.; 212-475-5700
*This article appears in the April 15, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!