Tenafly February 2024

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Tenaf ly

February 2024





Designing Woman

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173 Terrace St., Haworth, NJ 07641 | 201.384.1611 | www.gentledentistry.com | www.bergenhybridge.com SINCE 1961, GENTLE DENTISTRY HAS BEEN HELPING PATIENTS SMILE. Much more than just a name; Gentle Dentistry embodies a philosophy centered around personalized care and exceptional technique. Advancing the spirit and values of minimally invasive dental care, Dr. Andrew Spector has built a legacy practice serving the tri-state area with compassion and grace. The full-service, multi-specialty dental team and empathetic staff pride themselves on offering comprehensive, pain-free dentistry where minimally invasive, technology driven techniques provide the very best in implant dentistry, cosmetic smile makeovers, and technology enhanced general care. With a deep passion and unique vision for aesthetic dentistry, Dr. Spector delves into the goals and desires of his patients to deliver excellence and impeccable aesthetic results. A key national opinion leader and a nationally renowned speaker on the most advanced dental technologies and practices, Dr. Spector is on a constant pursuit to educate his patients and colleagues on all facets of the future of dentistry. His work has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, NJ12 and in the New York Times. Gentle Dentistry welcomes patients of all ages to come experience a different kind of dentistry.

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Designing Woman

Understanding people and how they live are keys to success for Michelle Schiller and MS Design Concierge.

An Appetite for Pickleball

Tenafly now has an indoor facility devoted to one of the world’s fastest-growing and most inclusive sports.

20 Connecting With Something Bigger At Sacred Space Meditation, Tania Gold offers opportunities to get in touch with yourself, the community and the divine.

24 A Cut Above


Publisher’s Note A NEW START







Michelle Schiller begins each design project by establishing a relationship with her client. PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRIS MARKSBURY

Cutlery from Paul Hellman’s Bavarian Knife Works balances the needs of professional chefs and the budgets of home cooking enthusiasts.

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Stephen Wilson Studio now available at

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A New Start


airport ads), serving as a sales executive on major accounts such as Resorts World, Volkswagen and Retro Fitness. And now I’ve come full circle, back to print, where my heart lies. I can’t wait to get going! In this month’s issue, read all about the Bergen County Pickleball Club, a beautiful new facility that opened its doors right here in Tenafly just a few weeks ago. Players can’t be more excited! In another feature story, we profile Tania Gold, owner of Sacred Space Meditation. By opening her business in Tenafly, Tania could work where she lives while engaging her community at the same time. And Michelle Schiller tells us how she went from the world of advertising to a career in interior design and decorating. Two of her projects are on display in our pages. Finally, we introduce you to Paul Hellman, founder and owner of Bavarian Knife Works, who says, “I feel like it’s my personal mission to teach homeowners the right way to use a knife.” We’ve been hearing from so many readers lately with story ideas and positive comments about our magazine. Please keep those emails coming! If there’s something—or somebody—you’d like us to write about, reach out to me at hello@tenaflymagazine.com. Regards,

I’ve lived right around the corner from Tenafly my entire life. From the times I would come to the movies and the diner as a teenager to my wedding rehearsal dinner, Tenafly has always been a major presence in my life. And now it’s my honor to come on board as the new publisher of Tenafly magazine! My media career started with magazines—in Westchester County, and then working for several titles in and around North Jersey. Then I moved into the out-of-home industry (think Times Square billboards, digital ads and

Gina Palmieri Publisher

Tenaf ly


Publisher Gina Palmieri Art Director Sue Park Copy Editor Nancy Fass Writers Jenna Demmer D. Flynn Christiana Maimone Photographers Chris Marksbury Alyson Barrow WAINSCOT MEDIA Chairman Carroll V. Dowden President and CEO Mark Dowden VP, Group Publisher, Regional Thomas Flannery VP, Content Strategy Maria Regan Creative Director Kijoo Kim Advertising Services Director Jacquelynn Fischer Operations Director Catherine Rosario Production Designer Chris Ferrante Print Production Manager Fern Meshulam Advertising Production Associate Griff Dowden Tenafly magazine is published by Wainscot Media. Serving residents of Tenafly, the magazine is distributed monthly via U.S. mail. Articles and advertisements contained herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publishers. Copyright 2024 by Wainscot Media LLC. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written consent.

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Weddings - Events - bar & Bat Mitzvahs - Branding - Headshots - In-Home - Lifestyle - In-Studio - Corporate - Newborn - EngaementS Untitled-2 1 ABP_FP_Tenafly_0224_v2.indd 1

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Shifting Into Spring Tenafly’s mayor—a 20-year resident—highlights happenings in our local community. BY MARK ZINNA

The Senior Center and the Bergen County Department of Health are sponsoring a free six-week program called “Take Control of Your Health.” This workshop is for adults with ongoing health questions or for their caregivers. You will get the support you need, find practical ways to manage health challenges, discover improved nutrition and exercise options, understand new treatment choices and learn better ways to talk with your doctor and family about health questions. The workshop begins Friday, March 1, at 11:30 a.m. For details, call the Senior Center at 201-569-2159. The Tenafly Nature Center looks forward to honoring its Life Members and supporters who have helped nurture the center’s mission to preserve Tenafly’s natural environment and provide environmental education and recreation opportunities for future generations. The Nature Center is hosting an elegant afternoon honoring its Life Members on Sunday, March 10. Proceeds from this special event will help the Nature Center continue to carry out its mission and grow to meet the rising needs of our community and beyond. For ticket details, please visit www.tenaflynaturecenter.org. Even though it is still wintery and cold, springtime in Tenafly is just around the corner. It looks like the March equinox—the first day of spring—is falling on March 19. Just around the corner from that day will be Tenafly’s first annual Spring Fling on May 4. The Spring Fling, open to everyone, will be a festive celebration featuring great food, live music and a carousel for the young ones. This will be a fun event for the entire community! Recently all households received the borough’s quarterly newsletter. When you have a chance, take a look. The newsletter is filled with information about Tenafly, recreation programs, sports, art classes, recycling, environmental topics, numerous services and opportunities available for seniors, and much more. Have a great upcoming spring!

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Q &a

Money as a Mission Witnessing family financial stress while growing up inspired this investment advisor to help others. BY CHRISTIANA MAIMONE



In 2017, Michael Israel cofounded

his wealth management firm, Revolve Wealth Partners, which started with five employees. Seven years later, the firm has grown to 23 employees and secured a spot in the top 100 list of fastest-growing registered investment advisory firms for 2023. Based in Hackensack, Livingston and Manhattan, Revolve serves a diverse

range of clients, helping them achieve personal and business goals. Michael is a proud Tenafly resident who moved to the area in 2004 from New York to start a family. He resides here with his wife and two children. We sat down with him to chat about the community’s importance and the mission behind his financial services work.

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Michael Israel (left) and his family (from left), Farrah, Jack and wife Kelly.

What brought you to Tenafly, and what do you love about it? There’s a lot of pride in what Tenafly is. We wanted a place that was close to the city and accessible to movement. There’s a lot of green space–tons of parks, like the Nature Center. But the sense of community and the focus on education is huge. It’s a great place to raise a family. I look back, and I don’t think we could have made a better choice.

How are you involved in your community? For my family, it’s important to support local businesses, like by going to local restaurants. We either go out or order in easily three to four times a week. Supporting local businesses is important just to maintain the beauty of the town and to make sure these businesses can thrive. Many times, kids in the community will come to me saying, “Hey, I have questions or need advice.” My door is always open to any way I can help folks understand the world a little more. [At Revolve,] we even employ a bunch of local folks with internships, part-time jobs or full-time jobs. Giving back is important to us.

What’s the most rewarding part of your work? The exciting thing is when we get closer to the client’s goals or solve something that a client has been struggling with for a long time—when a client says, “If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be able to accomplish this in my career or protect my family.” If I can earn a living for my family and my employees and provide more for clients to make an impact on their life, that’s the rewarding part.

What inspired you to pursue wealth management/financial planning?

What financial advice can you give for 2024?

Unfortunately, my dad passed when I was super young, so all of a sudden, my mom was single. I saw the financial stress on her. So, in the 1990s, my first job was on the tech side of financial services, and at some point, I was like, “What do I want to do for the rest of my life where I can make a decent living for my family but also have the fulfillment of being able to help?” I decided to cross over from the tech side and go into planning.

One of the most important rules in planning is control what you can and not what you can’t. Think long-term and don’t try to time the markets, as you can’t control or predict them. Own high-quality, productive assets that generate cash flow, and diversify broadly.

Christiana Maimone is a freelance writer based in Bergen County. She enjoys being able to connect with others through writing.


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 Let’s Get Social! Join our online community.

 @tenaflymagazine Have a photo or story you think should be featured? Want to learn more about advertising in our pages?

Contact us at hello@tenaflymagazine.com

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Reach virtually EVERY home in Tenafly with your business message.

To advertise, contact us at hello@tenaflymagazine.com.

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Designing Woman Understanding people and how they live are keys to success for Michelle Schiller and MS Design Concierge. BY D. FLYNN

Michelle Schiller of MS Design

Concierge doesn’t care for one-sizefits-all decorating plans. Her projects have ranged from a single piece in a single room to a 6,000-square-foot office, and the design process— regardless of the space—starts with a site visit. “I never like to put one option in front of anybody,” says Schiller. “I can give my opinion on what I think works best.” The key, she says, is to focus on how the homeowner uses the space. “Many people are just moving in with young children, and they have different needs than people with kids off to college,” she says. Schiller can convert playrooms to media areas, pull in spill-resistant fabrics for households with toddlers and pets, and assemble hangout spaces where teenagers will actually want to invite their friends.

Michelle Schiller relaxes in the home of clients who wanted a beautiful, warm, inviting space for the living room. Schiller achieved these goals through beautifully decorated custom shelves, missino-inspired grass cloth wallpaper and handmade, colorful barware.


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A Dreamhouse Come True Schiller and her husband moved to Tenafly about 13 years ago for the usual reasons: They had done the Manhattan thing and wanted a strong school system for their thenyoung son that didn’t require them to give up the city entirely. Schiller’s first years in Tenafly didn’t have much to do with decorating. She’d had a 15-year career in advertising. Since leaving Florida for college, she’d pitched ad plans to Fortune 500 clients. But with three boys then under the age of 5, the Home School Association (like a PTA for out-of-towners) got the benefit of her organizational skills, first as secretary and then as president. Schiller and her fellow volunteers put out newsletters, ran fundraisers for after-school programs and generally kept other parents of J. Spencer Smith Elementary School in the loop. (Schiller still shows up for community events on a quieter scale. You may have seen her at Girls Night Out for the Community Chest.)

Schiller says the years she spent close to her children’s education gave her clarity and time to reflect on what she actually wanted. Interior design had been a childhood dream. “I would draft house after house in my notebook and redesign my Barbie Dreamhouse a million times,” she says. Then there was a pandemic and lockdown—including hundreds of households in which people had nothing better to do than stare at the walls around them until they couldn’t take another step without a change. Schiller’s first projects were home redesigns for friends as restrictions loosened enough for visits and for entertaining to start becoming viable. She would work on the layout and call in professionals for window treatments or custom furniture. It’s one thing to hear “you could do this for a living” from a friend who just got a new living room and another to hear that opinion from people who are already in the profession.

For their bedroom (top left), the clients wanted to upgrade furniture and create a calm yet stylish space where they could relax after a long day. Elegant furniture, including a custom silver fabric bed as the centerpiece of the room, delivers a luxurious hotel vibe they were looking for.

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Establishing Relationships “I want to redo my living room” doesn’t even begin to describe the essence of what Schiller does. She cites the closeness that she feels when she works with clients in their own space as a foundational part of the business. Even clients who think they don’t know what they want often entertain some idea that Schiller can draw out in the right environment, usually the home in question. What is it that bothers the client about the living room? How often is the area used? Does the family watch television on the couch every night or is it a parlor for special occasions? Then Schiller retreats to her office with a pen and paper, drawing up options, budgets and timelines. One key skill for Schiller is managing client expectations. A vendor may say they figure a project will be completed in 12 weeks; Schiller knows when to tell the client to expect 15. A color may pop in a catalogue; Schiller knows when to wait for samples. Going forward, Schiller envisions increasing her client base and stretching geographically outside New Jersey. Her children’s increasing independence as they enter their tweens and teens has given Schiller at least one free hand. MS Design Concierge is a relatively new venture that does not yet have an official website but has garnered business through word of mouth and an Instagram presence, @MSDesignConcierge, where you can see examples of her custom approach to design. D. Flynn is a board-certified life science editor from Bergen County.

In another home project, the client wanted to modernize interiors and turn the formal living room into a more functional space for entertaining. The design includes a custom bar and sitting room with a glamorous yet relaxed vibe. A custom dining room was designed to host large family events but still reflect fun and whimsy via Phillip Jeffries Rivets wallpaper and a statement piece by artist Ashley Longshore. Custom blinds by Budget Blinds NJ finish off the look.


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An Appetite for Pickleball Tenafly now has an indoor facility devoted to one of the world’s fastest-growing and most inclusive sports. BY JENNA DEMMER

Step aside, tennis—another sport is

picking up huge momentum nationwide and has recently gained a new facility in Tenafly. The Bergen County Pickleball Club opened its doors in January, giving local enthusiasts an indoor space to participate in one of the nation’s fastest-growing sports. Eric Kutzin, the club’s head of programming, points out that there have been many new pickleball courts springing up in Bergen County in the past few years. Kutzin had dreamt of opening his own facility, and Tenafly was the perfect place for him to do that. “When we secured the property, there was no indoor facility within probably 30 minutes of where we’re located,” Kutzin notes. But that’s not the only reason he opened in Tenafly. The town is also a beautiful, tight-knit community with a big appetite for pickleball.

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Instructor Leonard Hutabarat (in cap) coaches players Lonny Levine (above) and Patty Kupelian (top).

A Pickleball Journey Kutzin’s journey in pickleball started four-and-a-half years ago. “I was a Bergen County tennis player,” he says. “Once I was introduced to pickleball, I haven’t picked up a tennis racket since.” Kutzin praises the sport for being fun and social, noting that the goal of pickleball isn’t always to win. For many people, it’s simply a great form of exercise that they can play with friends. In fact, Kutzin has made lifelong friends just from playing in tournaments. And although the sport can be competitive, it’s accessible. “It’s a great sport for everyone,” Kutzin says. “It doesn’t matter your age, gender or skill.”

There have been many outdoor pickleball courts opening in our area in recent years, but these courts aren’t always ideal during the biting cold of winter and the oppressive heat of summer. The clear solution, of course, is to build indoor courts where people can stay safe from the elements. Kutzin’s dreams of opening his own facility came to fruition after he met Lonny Levine, the club’s founder and CEO, who had secured a space in Tenafly. A mutual acquaintance in Haworth introduced the two, and they hit it off. They agreed on a partnership, laying the roots of the Bergen County Pickleball Club and its much-anticipated amenities. “We’ve built a really special place,” says Kutzin. “This is like no other facility I’ve ever played in or been to.” Levine was the architect and brains behind the four-court facility’s design. In the center of the courts is a dual lounge area. Upstairs is a beautifully decorated observatory lounge where people can sit on couches and watch games—or enjoy the 75-inch television. This lounge serves as a space to socialize or have private gatherings such as birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs and corporate events. Underneath that structure is another lounge with high tables for card playing. The tables can also be combined to create a long table where food and beverages can be served. “We’re more than just a place where you go in and play pickleball and leave,” says Kutzin. “We’ve set it up so if you want to have lunch delivered to your place, we can do that. If you want to have coffee or breakfast or socialize or play cards or just relax on the couch and watch TV or talk to your friends—that’s what we’ve built.” It’s best to get a membership if you want to play at the facility, but free memberships are available. Paid members get discounts and are able to book further in advance.

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In the Right Place Kutzin has never lived in Tenafly, but he has friends in town and has always lived nearby. Because he grew up in Haworth, Tenafly has always been a big part of his life, and he regularly frequents the downtown area and restaurants. Tenafly always struck Kutzin as a beautiful and charming town with a great community, so he’s been pleased with the town’s reaction to his facility. “The enthusiasm has been unbelievably and overwhelmingly positive,” Kutzin says. “It validates that we’re in the right place with the right people.” Anyone can come play at the facility, regardless of their experience. In fact, there are programs specifically for beginners, and the facility offers groups based on skill level. All programs are designed to keep similarly skilled players together so that the game is competitive yet fun. A youth program is also in the works—which brings to mind another great aspect of pickleball: People of all ages can play the sport. “It caters to such a wide spectrum of people,” says Kutzin. “There are not a lot of games out there that an 8-year-old can play and a 75-year-old can play, and play together if they want to.” This inclusive sentiment extends to the Bergen County Pickleball Club itself. “It’s an all-welcoming facility,” says Kutzin. “We do not discriminate in any way, shape or form. We want everybody to come see and play at our club.” Jenna Demmer has lived in Bergen County for as long as she can remember. She is a freelance writer and editor who has contributed to 11 different outlets.


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Connecting With Something Bigger At Sacred Space Meditation, Tania Gold offers opportunities to get in touch with yourself, the community and the divine.

In a world as hectic as ours,

just about everybody could use a space to unwind. That’s part of what inspired Tania Gold to open Sacred Space Meditation. “It’s not your average meditation,” Gold says of her offerings—and she isn’t wrong. The studio itself is a sight to behold. While it may be indoors,

the verdant decor will make you feel immersed in the natural world. In the front of the room is a majestic array of bowls, crystals and other tools that are used to provide a sound bath unlike any other. Not only will you be immersed in sounds and vibrations, but Gold’s classes will lead you on an inward journey using visualization,

guided imagery and breathwork. In morning classes, you’ll literally shake off energies that don’t serve you, and in the evening, you’ll meditate by candlelight. “I see it as more of a mission than a business,” says Gold. That mission is to help connect people with something bigger—both within themselves and in their community.



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Tania Gold sees the spiritual mentorship she provides at Sacred Space Meditation as more of a mission than a business.


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Opening an Oasis Gold has meditated for as long as she can remember. Her meditation practice and her unshakable spiritual beliefs have long served as a rock during challenging times. But it wasn’t until 2017, after years of working as an interior designer, that she felt called to leave her job behind and open a spiritual space. She did this without any sort of plan. “I really didn’t know what it was going to look like, and the only thing that I really knew that I had confidence in teaching was meditation, because I’ve been doing it so long,” says Gold. “So I started out just kind of teaching friends and inviting people in for circles and book clubs and conversations, and it very quickly evolved into this spiritual center.”

Meditation was always at the core of it—but even the term “meditation” isn’t enough to describe all that her business offers. “It started with that, but it’s evolved into spiritual mentorship or coaching,” describes Gold. “It’s much more than meditation. It’s really giving people an experience of connecting into their own divinity.” To do this, she taps into her own. Just as she started her business with no plan, she uses no scripts or notes to prepare her meditations. Instead, she uses channeling, which involves surrendering and letting pure creative flow and inspiration move through her. In this respect, she’s meditating along with her clients—and since each meditation is

channeled on the spot, every class is unique. The sound baths are unique as well, and that’s because Gold has no formal training and no inhibition. She uses the instruments as she feels called. Even the instruments themselves have a personal touch, with each one having a story of its own. For instance, one crystal bowl was a gift from her children given shortly after she opened her business. “It was validation,” says Gold. “It was like they were recognizing that what I was doing was important and that they were behind me.” In addition to group offerings, Gold offers private services to help people work through life changes, grief and other stressors.

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Along with classes and coaching in both group and private settings, Gold offers a variety of objects and instruments. She strives to make Sacred Space Meditation a place where people can relax in an unguarded, accepting atmosphere.

From Cresskill to Tenafly When Gold first opened her business, she only had the funds to rent office space in Cresskill. But as her business grew, so did her vision—and she knew she had to move to a more visible space. Like her instruments, her space in Tenafly has a personal story. Gold has been a resident of Tenafly for years, drawn by its impeccable school system. When she first moved to Tenafly, the space where she now runs her business was used as a bookstore. “It was a really, really special space that I spent a lot of time in with my children when they were

little,” says Gold. “When it was time to either renew my lease or move, I immediately went to that space, and I just knew that that was going to be the space for me.” In doing so, she brought her business to a town that has provided her with a safe community for years. Gold made friends very quickly when she first moved to Tenafly, and many of these friends have become like a second family. By opening her business in this town, she could not only live where she worked, but also could engage her community. Her business offers a space where people can let their guard down and feel accepted and

celebrated for their differences, with the knowledge that all people are the same underneath. In the future, Gold hopes to do more retreats, travel and collaborations, but in the meantime, she loves where she is. “I love the community,” she says. “I love that I look around in a class, and it’s filled with people who I never would have met if I hadn’t opened and who have become like family.”

Jenna Demmer has lived in Bergen County for as long as she can remember. She is a freelance writer and editor who has contributed to 11 different outlets.


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A Cut Above

Cutlery from Paul Hellman’s Bavarian Knife Works balances the needs of professional chefs and the budgets of home cooking enthusiasts. BY D. FLYNN

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To make a knife, a steelworker folds

refined metal into layers until they form an edge. Paul Hellman’s life has had many layers, even if it hasn’t always been as refined as what comes out of his Tenaflybased Bavarian Knife Works. Hellman grew up in Dumont and Old Tappan. Though he’d done some metalworking on an amateur level while a high school student at Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan, he spent 20 years as a chemical engineer. His work took him all over Europe and

Asia, but he wasn’t exactly seeing the world. Mostly, he saw the insides of malfunctioning fermentation rooms, sometimes at 3 a.m. “The smell just doesn’t go away,” says Hellman. In search of a profession that might involve work of a less malodorous nature, Hellman attended New York City’s

International Culinary Center, then called the French Culinary Institute. He’d always been interested in cooking, but a program on knife skills made something click. Not only did it jibe with the knowledge base from his youth, but there seemed to be room for growth.


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Balanced and Beautiful Hellman noticed that high-end stores would sell chef ’s knives for $100 and box stores cheap ones for $5, but there was a whole median range of practical chefs and serious home cooks who might be interested in a quality tool that would break onion skin but not the bank. Hellman took a meticulous approach. He visited a trade show in Asia to examine knives of different styles. To develop his own designs, he spoke with more than 100 chefs, asking what they liked and didn’t like about the tools they had. They discussed problems with edge retention, knife heaviness and square spines that left them with calluses. They also mentioned the heel of the knife—the part of the edge closest to the bolster (where blade and handle meet). Professional chefs do the bulk

of their cutting on this part of the blade, but it’s almost never sold sharp, so it has to be ground down after purchase. Bavarian Knife Works blades are carefully balanced with an attractive Pakkawood handle, rounded spine and sharpened heel. Hellman knows of no other knife on the market that has rounded edges on top to prevent chef ’s calluses. Hellman says many Tenafly-area restaurants have his knives in their kitchens, but much of his business focuses on noncommercial cooks. “I feel like it’s my personal mission to teach homeowners the right way to use a knife,” says Hellman. He offers lessons at trade shows and sometimes in private homes—such as the time he says actress Jane Seymour invited him to give a presentation at her house in Malibu.

Paul Hellman designed his knives to resolve issues he heard about in speaking with more than 100 chefs about their likes and dislikes.

“I feel it’s my personal mission to teach homeowners the right way to use a knife.” - Paul Hellman

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Getting Sharper About Knives Videos on the Bavarian Knife Works website and YouTube channel are also ideal for home cooks who may not know basic knife skills. Consider the difference between honing and sharpening. Every cut causes the edge of the knife to curl. Even though this change in shape is microscopic, it can make the blade slide against the food instead of cutting it. A honing steel straightens the edge without any change in mass. Sharpening, however, removes a small amount of metal to reform the edge. Hellman offers two tools: a round steel for everyday honing and a diamond steel for a monthly sharpening treatment. “Every chef knows that he has to hone his knives every time he picks them up, but 99 percent of people don’t do that,” he says. “Their knives go dull, and they have no idea why, after a year or two, they don’t cut anything anymore.” Chefs report that his knives need to be honed but not sharpened. For vegans, Hellman recommends his 12-piece knife set, and for meat eaters, the 19-piece set, which includes

steak knives. For anyone who lives near Tenafly, he’ll deliver the knives personally and give the owner a brief lesson on knife use and maintenance. Bavarian Knife Works partners with two other companies: Hellman sells collectable Damascus steel knives from Messer-Werk in Germany and cutting boards from The Carpenter’s Shop in New England, which trains recovering

addicts in carpentry. You can also swap stories with Hellman in person at the New York Restaurant Show at Mohegan Sun in March—and delve into the layers of his life and work.

D. Flynn is a board-certified life science editor from Bergen County.


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Food That Lifts Your Mood The most powerful “medicine” for feeling good may be what you put on your plate. What if you were offered a tool

that was guaranteed to lift your spirits and give you the energy to do all the things you want to do? The fact is, you already have this tool at your disposal. Numerous medical studies have found that what we eat on a daily basis is powerful “medicine”—perhaps the most powerful—for fighting depression and fatigue. Most people associate comfort with some kinds of food, such as pasta or ice cream. But the connection between food and how we feel is much deeper than many of us know. Food actually triggers chemical reactions in our brains that can lead to changes in our moods. How does what we eat affect the way we feel?

Food can reduce depression risk.

Research shows that a higher risk of depression is linked to a diet that includes few fruits and vegetables but lots of red or processed meat (deli meat, bacon, hot dogs) as well as high-fat dairy products such as whole milk and butter. Meanwhile, a diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fish and olive oil is strongly associated with a lower risk of depression.

Food can increase energy.

Sugary foods such as soda and candy lead to a sharp surge of energy because they trigger the brain to release a feel-good chemical called dopamine. However, this so-called

“sugar high” will be brief and will be followed by a slump in mood and energy levels. On the other hand, a well-balanced diet that includes healthy fats, whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables leads to steady levels of energy. Doctors sometimes see this effect in patients, with many of those who focus on a mostly plant-based diet reporting that they experience higher and more sustained energy levels.

Food can improve memory and thinking skills.

Research into large population samples from dozens of countries around the world have found that people who eat the healthiest diets are significantly less likely to have a decline in their thinking skills compared with people who ate the least healthy diets.

Food can ease anxiety.

Certain foods spur the release of the feel-good brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin. This category includes foods rich in the nutrient magnesium, such as leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard, as well as nuts, seeds and whole grains. The same is true for foods rich in B vitamins, such as avocados and almonds, and foods that contain zinc, such as oysters, cashews, liver and egg yolks. These emotional benefits, of course, come on top of the physical benefits of a healthy diet—joints that don’t ache, fewer colds, better bowel function, lower cholesterol, reduced risk of heart and kidney disease, and much more.

YOUR PLATE, YOUR WAY Good-mood meals can be created using your favorite ingredients—no matter what cuisine you like. The eating plan most often linked to positive moods is called the Mediterranean diet, which is based on the traditional diet of people in areas bordering the Mediterranean Sea. But in reality, this way of eating has no geographic boundaries. Fruits, vegetables and fish differ from country to country, but they are just as nutritious and good for you wherever you live. The Mediterranean diet includes: • Daily consumption of seasonal vegetables and fruits, whole grains and healthy fats (such as those found in nuts and olive oil) • Weekly eating of fish, poultry, beans and eggs • Moderate portions of dairy products • Limited intake of red meat. The plan is easy to adapt, as can be seen in cuisines throughout the world. For example, many people of West African heritage use a lot of vegetables in favorite dishes, such as fufu, a recipe that begins with pounded yams or plantains. Beans, corn and peppers— all Mediterranean diet staples—are common in many Caribbean and Central American dishes. Black rice, used in many Chinese and Southeast Asian recipes, has higher levels of antioxidants (which protect cells) than many other types of rice.


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Have a Ball

Children’s playground pit? Abstract artwork? Neither: These are pickleballs shot by photographer Chris Marksbury at the Bergen County Pickleball Club, 101 North Summit St., in Tenafly. The club has been open just a few short weeks but is already one of the most talked-about places in town. For more, check out our feature story on page 16.

Have a great image for Photo Op? Submit your high-resolution shot to hello@tenaflymagazine.com.

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