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Posted on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

Max Sussman and Eli Sussman at Williams-Sonoma - bacon and blue cheese pizza just one of many 'real life' recipes

By Mary Bilyeu


Mary Bilyeu | Contributor

There's more to life than football. Even in Ann Arbor, even when we're talking about the upcoming Ohio State game, there's more to life than football. Really, there is!

There's food. And I don't just mean tailgating food, although that's very important. I'm referring to food prepared by two of the most talked-about chefs in New York City, who are making their home state of Michigan very proud.

In my obsessive little world, chefs are the rock stars. And two of the hottest acts right now are Max Sussman and his brother Eli, who live and work in Brooklyn but who will be offering a cooking demonstration at Briarwood's Williams-Sonoma store at 3 p.m. Saturday. They'll also be signing copies of This is a Cookbook: Recipes for Real Life, which has just been published. How can you not love a book written, as they phrase it themselves, "by 2 guys who like to eat"?

Eli cooks at the Mile-End Deli and is also the marketing director for Taste of the Nation NYC, an event that benefits the exceptional charity Share Our Strength, which fights hunger and particularly promotes feeding children.

Max is a chef at Roberta's, the very trendy pizzeria that has received two stars from The New York Times; and he was a semifinalist for this year's James Beard Foundation Awards, on the radar for Rising Star Chef of the Year. Both brothers made Zagat's 2012 "30 Under 30: NYC's Hottest Up-and-Comers" list of food professionals to watch.

The Sussman brothers are passionate about excellent, but not pretentious, food. Their cookbook offers recipes for everything from dishes to impress your girlfriend when you first cook dinner for her to midnight snacks after a long night with friends (or, in their cases, at work).

And there is a recipe for a Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie that only requires baking a graham cracker crust, while the filling is merely mixed, poured and refrigerated. "If you're capable of reading this cookbook, you are capable of making this dessert look as insanely good as the picture."

Max and Eli's philosophy is simple, as they noted in an interview with The New York Times:

“For us, it’s not about a concept, it’s about making stuff that people are going to enjoy eating,” Max said. “We wanted the recipes to be immediately useful.”

Eli said: “It sounds a bit obvious, but we really wanted it to be a cookbook — like a cooking book. It’s not a coffee-table book. If this book just sits on people’s coffee tables, it’s basically a failure.”

The Bacon 'n' Blue Cheese Pizza featured below — found in a section that berates people for relying upon the sacrilege that is frozen pizza — would be an exceptional offering for today's tailgating feast. Go Blue, after all!

My son Jeremy and I adore both blue cheese and bacon, so this was absolutely our first choice when selecting a recipe to try from the Sussmans' cookbook. My boyfriend Craig is not a fan of blue cheese, however he did promise to at least try it; almost anything is improved with bacon, after all, and pizza is probably his favorite food.

Well, I used a different crust recipe than the one in the book because I'd committed a cardinal sin of cooking: I'd failed to read Max and Eli's recipe ahead of time, and didn't have the necessary 1-2 hours available to let their dough rise. But I quickly buzzed their sauce around in the blender and followed their recommendations for the toppings.

Oohs and Ahhs, and much anticipation, preceded the first bites. And I'm here to tell you that this was one fabulously amazing creation! In fact, of the 12 slices of pizza I offered for dinner on the night I served this, I was granted only two; the rest was devoured by my two dining companions... even by the one who didn't previously like blue cheese.

So, you should come with me to see Max and Eli at Williams-Sonoma this Saturday. They know how to cook, and they want to show you how easy it is and how much fun it can be.

You can watch endless replays of the game later on. But how many opportunities will you have for these two handsome, charming guys to feed you?

Max Sussman and Eli Sussman Book Signing and Cooking Demonstration
Saturday, Nov. 24, 3-5 p.m.
808 Briarwood Circle, Ann Arbor


Mary Bilyeu, Contributor

Bacon 'n' Blue Cheese Pizza

1 packet quick-rise yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 cups flour

In a large bowl, combine yeast, sugar and water; let proof for 5 minutes. Stir in salt and flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and then a dish towel; place in a warm place to let rise for 30 minutes.

1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained
2 large garlic cloves
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients into a blender; puree until smooth.

1 pound bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 ounces Mozzarella, shredded
2/3 cup shredded Parmesan
6 ounces crumbled blue cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle a bit of cornmeal onto the bottom of a 15x10-inch baking sheet.

Cook the bacon in a skillet until crisp; drain on paper towels.

Punch down the pizza dough. Place onto the prepared baking sheet and carefully stretch the dough to the edges of the baking sheet. Spread some of the sauce over the dough, reserving the rest for another purpose. Sprinkle Mozzarella and Parmesan over the top.

Sprinkle bacon and blue cheese over the top of the pizza. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is bubbling and crust is crisp. Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting into slices.

Makes 12 generous slices.

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Mary Bilyeu writes for on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, telling about her adventures in the kitchen - making dinner, celebrating holidays, entering cooking contests, meeting new friends ... whatever strikes her fancy. She is also on a mission to find great deals for her Frugal Floozie Friday posts, seeking fabulous food at restaurants on the limited budget of only $5 per person. Feel free to email her with questions, comments, or suggestions:

Go visit Mary's blog — Food Floozie — where she enthuses and effuses over all things food-related; and look for her monthly articles in the Washtenaw Jewish News. "Like" her on Facebook, or send a tweet on Twitter, too.

The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured in this post) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers - when you come to visit here, may you always be happy.



Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:59 a.m.

Wondering if this is the same Max and Eli that helped organize the "Drop Bass Not Bombs" fundraiser many years ago at the Club Above the Heidelburg?


Tue, Nov 20, 2012 : 9:38 p.m.

I suppose this is not kosher....