Pondering the best job in the world? Have you considered being a spice sommelier? If not, then I highly suggest you add it to your list. Lior Lev Sercarz reigns supreme in this category, traveling the world, and carefully curating spice blends for Michelin star chefs, such as Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin. Bon Appétit named him a “Tastemaker of the Year” in 2012, and Vogue, Saveur, and Food & Wine mag are all privy to the artistry of this Israeli born, now NY based locavore. Having studied at Institut Paul Bocuse, and working under the mastery of Olivier Roellinger, Sercarz then worked as sous chef under Daniel Boulud at his NY institution Daniel. He now owns and operates La Boîte, an inviting jewel sized spice shop (and art gallery) in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen, that I had the goody-goody-gumdrops pleasure of exploring this past week.
The space holds a plethora of carefully blended spices, each reflecting a place, moment, or feeling as experienced through the mind (and incredible travels) of Lior. Take, for example, “Breeze No.5,” a blend of tea, anise and lemon, which would be divine on a beautiful filet of arctic char. Or perhaps you’re roasting a leg of lamb and need it to have that je ne sais quoi quality, so you opt to imbue it with flavor & dimension using “Tangier No. 23,” a rose petal, cumin, and cardamom creation. Let’s just take a beat, as my friend, Tuke, and I did, to take in how perfect all of these culinary cult finds are for a hostess gift. I mean… Martha Stewart would be proud. As would Emily Post. But I digress.
Within his shop you will also find signature biscuits (Lior has gone 8 years without repeating any flavors), including my personal favorite, Kerala (a bespoke blend of pan masala & turmeric flecked crisps sandwiching a rich layer of dark chocolate). This guy is on to something.
Case in point, the above are the freshly made biscuits ready to be hand packed into specialty tins, which, by the way, feature the designs of artists whose collections he puts on display on a monthly basis. To the right are pamphlets including “Figs: Ten Ways to Prepare Them” – small booklets that Lior originally published in French, and have been recently transcribed in English. Each one is hand stitched, and includes beautiful notes on the art and preparation of simple ingredients. I am certifiably obsessed with these… as with the incredible olive oil (pictured below) from his father’s olive grove in Israel.
All of his incredible bites can be found at www.laboiteny.com and specialized retailers in NY, such as Eataly. In addition, you can purchase Lior’s revelatory book, The Art of Blending, for your personal collection, or as a very special gift.