Famous Alumni: Max and Eli Sussman


Max and Eli Sussman are superstars in the New York City food scene and authors of the recently released cookbook This Is A Cookbook: Recipes For Real Life, but long before they were grabbing headlines in the Big Apple the brothers were tearing up the Jewish summer camp kitchen of their youth at Camp Tavor in Three Rivers, Michigan.

The Sussman brothers grew up attending the camp and rather than become counselors when they were no longer camper age, they became cooks in the kitchen, a summer job that has worked out pretty well for them now.

Below is a photo of them at the camp in 2004 that Eli posted on the Freshman In the Kitchen blog in 2010 with this caption:

Probably not the best idea to give two 20ish year olds control of a $60k+ food budget for an entire summer but we turned out the best food the camp has ever had. 180 campers and staff. 3 meals a day, two snacks. That’s trial by fire right there.

I love that max is wearing a duct tape kitchen survival belt that he actually made and used all the time. That wasn’t for show. That was fully functional folks.


Eli talked about their experience in a Black Book Magazine article back in September:

Max was the head chef and I was like his sous chef, though it wasn’t called that. The camp was based on kibbutz, which is a socialist style of living in Israel, so it’s communal, and everyone has to do something. So, we had a garden and really stepped it up. At the beginning of the summer, Max said we were making nothing frozen, which was hard, but it was fun because making everything from scratch. We started writing down the recipes and when we got back to college, people were always asking us random cooking questions so we wrote a book proposal and sent it around.

The brothers were back in their old stomping ground recently for a wedding that Eli told Food Republic was basically a “gigantic camp reunion.”

For a list of other famous Summer Camp Alumni, visit our Famous Alumni page.

Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at Tangzine.com and MatthewRalph.com. I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.

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