An apple-and-honey snacking cake, not long out of the oven, sat on the stovetop in Jake Cohen’s Long Island City apartment. A few feet down the counter was a freshly baked challah blanketed with sesame seeds and flaky salt.
A visitor was hungry but tentative. Mr. Cohen was apologetic but firm. The pastry and the bread were accompanying him to “Good Morning America,” where he would be discussing his new cookbook, “I Could Nosh: Classic Jew-ish Recipes Revamped for Every Day,” the follow-up to his 2021 New York Times best seller, “Jew-ish: Reinvented Recipes From a Modern Mensch.”
“But I always have baked goods around,” said Mr. Cohen, 29, opening the freezer to reveal the cookies and banana bread stowed for the benefit of guests, both expected and not. “People come by all the time.”
This explains why he and his husband, Alex Shapiro, a financial consultant, keep the dining table set for six. “It’s like Lucky Girl Syndrome,” Mr. Cohen said. ‘You’re opening up to the universe that something can happen.”
His mother and sister, who live in the neighborhood, are given to popping by on the spur of the moment. His close friend, the comedian Alex Edelman, “will call and be like, ‘Ahhhhh,’” as a preface to his unplanned imminent arrival, said Mr. Cohen, who is more friendly than a golden retriever and who, you suspect, believes there is no situation so dire that it can’t be set right with a latke tartine or two.
Jake Cohen, 29
Occupation: Cookbook author
Traffic alert: “If I’m going somewhere, I can just look out our window and decide if I want to take the bridge, the tunnel, my bike or the subway.”
Mr. Cohen grew up in Bayside, Queens, and on Long Island. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, he moved into the Murray Hill studio apartment that his mother, Elizabette, had bought as an investment. He was eventually joined there by Mr. Shapiro, whom he met on Hinge in 2015. They married in 2018.
After buying the apartment from Ms. Cohen, the couple renovated and, in due course, outgrew the 400-square-foot space, selling it in 2019. The plan was to buy in Brooklyn Heights.
Right around the same time, Ms. Cohen, who is divorced, sold the family home on Long Island. She was thinking about returning to Forest Hills, where she had grown up and where her daughter, Jamie, lived. But Mr. Cohen had another location in mind for Mom — one that would be handy to her work as a freelance veterinarian and was also the midway point between her children’s homes.
“I was like, ‘You should move to Long Island City. It’s this up-and-coming place. Look into it,’” he said.
Ms. Cohen immediately took to the neighborhood, buying a condominium in a building not yet under construction and happily waiting it out in a nearby luxury high-rise rental, where she was one of the first tenants. Her enthusiasm for this temporary perch was contagious: Her daughter soon decided to rent in the same building.
And there were Mr. Cohen and Mr. Shapiro, all set to make an offer on an apartment in Brooklyn. “Then we had this moment of, ‘What the hell are we doing?’” Mr. Cohen recalled.
They pulled back, instead renting a one-bedroom apartment on the 22nd floor of the building that was home to Mr. Cohen’s mother (44th floor) and his sister (12th floor). “It was just like the most incredible pandemic experience,” Mr. Cohen said. “We refer to it as the urban kibbutz.”
Last year, his mother and sister moved into different buildings; they’re now both a block away from him. Mr. Cohen and Mr. Shapiro moved last year, as well — to a two-bedroom apartment down the hall from their one-bedroom apartment.
“It was during one of the Covid waves, so our movers canceled on us,” Mr. Cohen said. “I literally grabbed a dolly from the doorman and moved most of our furniture myself. And it was like the most masculine thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
And clearly well worth the exertion. The west-facing floor-to-ceiling windows offer a better view than the couple had in their old apartment — even if the light is so abundant it began turning their silver alpaca accent pillows green.
“In the morning, we wake up and look at the skyline, and we’re like, ‘Wow, New York is gorgeous,’” Mr. Cohen said. “At night, we’ll turn off the lights and sit on the couch and at look at Manhattan just staring at us.”
And this apartment has a pantry, a great convenience for Mr. Cohen, who now has a dedicated spot for his various flours and spices.
The apartment is tidy and fresh: stainless steel appliances, light oak floors, sleek off-white bouclé sectional. It’s the thoroughly modern backdrop for objects whose value lies in their age and provenance.
A marble-topped rack holds the fish-shaped silver-and-wood lox platter that was passed down to Mr. Cohen from his maternal grandmother, as well as his great-grandmother’s recipe box. Atop the bureau in the primary bedroom, next to the braided challah menorah and Mr. Cohen’s collection of glass and ceramic pomegranates from Israel, is the kiddush cup from his great-grandparents’ wedding.
Mr. Shapiro gave Mr. Cohen a pair of crystal candlesticks for his 25th birthday. They sit in the center of the dining table. “None of my family’s candlesticks survived the Holocaust,” Mr. Cohen said. “But now we’ll have something to pass down.”
And soon his maternal grandmother will be moving from the Caribbean to Florida, “where she belongs,” Mr. Cohen said. “And she’s like, ‘Oh, I have these mother-of-pearl fruit knives that you’re going to have to take.”
He’ll put them to immediate use. Hospitality is his food and drink. Mr. Edelman, the comedian Judy Gold, the actor Shoshana Bean and the composer Benj Pasek are often around the table at Sabbath dinner. There are regular game nights and at-home dinners with other couples.
When it comes time for an apartment upgrade, Mr. Cohen would like another 500 square feet — not for a bigger kitchen, not for more bedrooms (“More bedrooms mean more guests, and we don’t want more guests”), but to throw bigger parties.
He loves his apartment, yes, but “I’d move in a second, and when you rent you’re not tied down,” he said.
“You’ve got to be ready to go. You’ve got to have your go-bag packed,” Mr. Cohen continued. “Your dream apartment could go on the market tomorrow.”
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