At The Table With: Julian Plovnick, Culinary Specialist at Sur La Table

May 23, 2024

Name: Julian Plovnick

Preferred Name: Julian

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Favorite SLT Tool or Small Appliance:  Flex-Core Mini Silicone Spatula—it’s perfect for getting into all those hard-to-reach areas of pots, pans and jars, to make sure no delicious food goes to waste!


Tell us a bit about yourself – where did you grow up? Where do you reside currently? Who do you call “family?”

I was born and raised right outside of Boston in a town called Brookline, Massachusetts. After going to school in upstate New York, I lived in Cambridge for a few years before moving to Brooklyn last winter with my partner, Jake and two cats, Stevie and Bowie.

How did you come to work at Sur La Table? Tell us a bit about your journey to becoming a Culinary Specialist at SLT.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always known I wanted to work in food. My very first job was at age 13 when I started working for the woman who catered my bar mitzvah (shoutout to Miss Jeanie).

Since then, I’ve done everything from working on the line to working in food tech to interning at a cheese magazine.

In 2022, I completed my Master’s of Arts in Gastronomy from Boston University where I received formal culinary training from some of the best chefs in the area, including the legendary Chef Jacques Pepín. That program helped me kickstart my career as a chef and recipe developer, allowing me to work for a variety of different companies, such as Delish, Marley Spoon and Essential Living.

After being affected by layoffs in 2023, I was fortunate enough to be connected with the Culinary Specialist role at Sur La Table, allowing me to expand upon my experience in culinary development while working for a legendary, heritage brand like Sur La Table

Does Jewish American Heritage Month hold a special significance for you? If so, what do you think is the most important thing to remember and/or reflect on during the month?

For me, Jewish Heritage Month is not just a time when we as a community get to celebrate all the beautiful traditions and aspects of our culture that makes us who we are, but it also provides us an opportunity to reflect on the values that Judaism teaches us and work to ensure that we see those values reflected in our own lives as well as the world around us.

Growing up, my parents ensured that my brother and I understood and participated in the practice of tikkun olam, a concept in Judaism that loosely translates to “repairing the world”. In modern-day Judaism, the term has more or less come to represent the belief in the innate human responsibility to pursue social justice through personal action and, during periods such as Jewish Heritage Month, we as a Jews should take the time to ensure we are doing what we can to create a safe, unprejudiced world where other communities are able to celebrate their own national heritage months.

How has your upbringing (i.e. family, culture, background) influenced how you approach your work and career?

One of the main tenants of Judaism that I was brought up with is the appreciation of tradition, but with the modern twist of not upholding traditions for tradition’s sake.

I often find that this idea creeps into how I work, as I’m always making sure that I do my best to holistically understand every situation that I walk into and respect all the previous work that has been done that set the stage for my work to exist. Additionally, my style of cooking tends to be rooted in taking traditional flavors and recipes and updating them with a twist, all the while making sure that the original concept is still recognizable and respected.

What is the most important lesson (food, cooking, career or otherwise) that you’ve learned during your tenure at Sur La Table?

Before working at Sur La Table, I had only made macarons once, maybe twice before.

While I in no way see myself as an expert in the delicate craft that is macaron-making, I’ve definitely picked up a few tips and tricks (mainly from our incomparable Culinary Director, Meredith Abbott) that have helped demystify the macaron for me. Mainly, how to know that you’ve completed the macaronage step correctly and deflated the batter to the proper viscosity. It’s all about looking for that lava-like flow!

As you know, at Sur La Table we’re all about food – cooking it, eating it, and sharing it with others. What role does food play in your life?

Without any exaggeration, food is quite literally my life.

I work in it, I’m constantly thinking about it, I LOVE to eat it and I’m happiest when I’m surrounded by it. Food is the common thread across the most memorable moments of my life—both good and bad—and has been a major player in defining who I am as a person.

Follow Up: What is the best thing you’ve ever eaten?

As far as the best thing I’ve ever eaten goes, that special award goes to a bowl of buttered white rice I had in Colombia after being bedridden for a week from drinking a frozen lemonade, blissfully ignorant to the fact that the ice used was indeed made from contaminated tap water.

Having not eaten any solid food for a full week, that one bowl of rice was the best medicine I had ever, and still have ever taken. Soft, perfectly fluffed rice, coated in sweet melted butter with just a touch of salt. I still think about it to this day.

 Finally, if you could host a dinner party with any 5 people—living or dead—who would they be and why?

Ina Garten for the warm energy and delicious dessert I’m sure she’d bring; Coco Peru for the comedy and entertainment; Nyle Dimarco for the eye candy, Charo for a bit of unpredictable (yet enjoyable) chaos and my middle school gym teacher to do the dishes.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

At The Table With: Abrar Alshantir, Resident Chef at Sur La Table in Bethesda, Maryland

Yes, Chef: How 4 Women Became Leaders In Sur La Table’s Kitchens