La Boite a Epice, Spice, Lior Lev Sercarz, spice blends, sourced, specialty biscuits, unique spices, recommendations, Daniel Boulud, Pual Liebrand, Zak Pelaccio, Chef, Purveyor


Customized Spice Blends & Biscuits

When chefs like Daniel Boulud, Paul Liebrandt, and Zak Pelaccio want to add some zip to their dishes, they call on master spice blender,

Lior Lev Sercarz

Photo Credit: David Engelhardt for Find. Eat. Drink.

chef Lior Lev Sercarz. Israeli born Sercarz left his cooking career working as a chef in top kitchens in France and at NY’s Daniel to start La Boîte à Epice four years ago.

While he is on speed-dial to whip up something at the last minute for his chef clientele, he now sells ready made blends for home cooks.

Since his launch, he has made 38 custom blends. Here are some examples:

Amber No. 2

A mixture of Ancho, Annatto and Mace. It has a sweet and smoky flavor and can be used on pork, grilled meats, shrimp, and even mixed nuts. The sweet and the smoky make for a very warm spice.

Galil No. 13

Made with Verbena, White Cardamom and sage. Lior recommends using for poaching and steaming fish, or in ice cream and sorbets.

Salvador No. 19

It mixes Pimenton, Saffron and “seafood essence” -- perfect for paella, or seafood stews.

Q & A with Lior Lev Sercarz
Q & A

Q. Please tell us about La Boîte à Epice and your various spices:

A. La Boîte à Epice is about creating unique and original spice blends inspired by place, people and my culinary adventures.

In the last 4 for years, I created 38 blends. Some blends came as a result of my career as a chef and some were made for some of the most amazing chefs in the US. I get a lot of requests from my clients to create blends for their dishes. The process can take months or sometime minutes. It is like creating a perfume, the balance, harmony and the way they will develop later. I work with over 100 spices and herbs from around the world.

Everything is purchased whole and I toast and grind everything here. The blends have a name, but are not specifically designated to any usages. I invite my clients to get inspired and try them in many ways from savory dishes to desserts and even drinks.

Q. You also have a biscuit line, La Boîte à Biscuits which is known for the special container boxes:

A. La Boîte à Biscuits features two collections a year (Fall-Winter & Spring-Summer) creating 5 new flavors for each of them. Each new collection also features art work by a different artist. One art piece is engraved on the tin and 6 others are presented as prints inside the biscuits tin.

The collection has a name and a theme. For the launching, a show is produced in a gallery and for this upcoming it is going to be in my new store.

This biscuits tin combines my four passions in life: biscuits, spices, art and packaging.

Q. You left your job as a chef to become a master spice blender, what was the allure for you to make this your full time job?

A. Spices are a big passion of mine. They are a great way for me to express myself without leaving the cooking world. I can tell a whole story in a blend. Seeing what dishes are made with each blend is amazing. I can be part of so many restaurants and kitchen all over the world without leaving NY.

Q. Where do you source your spices from and what do you look for when procuring spices?

A. I get the spice from all over the world. I treat the spices like any produce. I check the freshness, color, scents and general aspect. I try to teach my clients to do the same. You would not cook with a bad piece of meat or vegetable, the same goes for spices. They should have a good smell and color.

Q. You mostly sell directly to chefs. What goes into the collaboration with the chefs you’re working with?

A. These chefs are my best partners. They challenge me to create new blends all the time. The fact that I am a chef myself helps a lot. They respect that and we can have a constructive conversation. They will ask me for some new things for a new menu and such. From that moment I analyze who they are and what they do and try to match that.

Tips / Advice

Q. Many people are intimidated by spice. Can you give us some advice on how to buy? What are the top three things we should look for?

A. When buying spices you should start with small quantities and buy more often. Try to go to a vendor that you trust and like. You will discover the difference very fast.

Look for a good color (bright and intense), once open smell the spices. If they have no smell then something is wrong. Whole spices are mostly better than ground (they are more pungent), but if you are new to this and do not want to buy a small coffee grinder, then buy small quantities of ground spices.

Whether whole or ground, keep the spice in an air sealed container in a cool place with no direct exposure to the sun.

Try to slowly integrate some spice to you favorite familiar dishes.

Q. What are some unique and interesting suggestions for ways to use spices?

A. Hot spice infusions are a great way to enjoy spices or even ice teas. Baking is also great for trying new spices.

Q. How long should one keep spice and what are the best ways to store spices?

A. Spice usually keep for a while, assuming that they were good when purchased. They could keep for up to a year if stored in an air tight container in a cool place.


Q. For home cooks around the country. What over-the-counter spices can you recommend?

A. To begin:

Fleur de Sel -- great French salt, good for final touch seasoning.

Maldon Salt -- British salt.

Tellicherry Peppercorns -- great every day black pepper.

Caraway Seeds -- great for many dishes and can be eaten whole.

Espelette Pepper -- great medium heat.

Coriander Seeds and Fennel Seeds.

Q. Are there food markets around the world that you love?

A. The markets in France are amazing. The respect and tradition are amazing.

I love the Quai St. Antoine market in Lyon. It has so many small farmers stand each more beautiful than the other. You want to buy everything.

Then there is Les Halles in Lyon, the indoor market with amazing cheeses, meats and amazing atmosphere.

Israel also has great markets, mainly for fruits and vegetables.

Q. What are some of the best places to buy spices?

A. Except for La Boîte À Epice, of course, and La Boîte – the new store where you can order and buy any spice, not only the blends.

I love Bahadourian in Lyon, France.

Epices-Roellinger in Cancale, France.

Kalustyan’s in New York.

They all have amazing products and treat them with a lot of care. You are certain to find the best quality.

Q. Where do you love to go eat authentic Middle Eastern food and what do you order?

A. My dear friend and amazing chef Ana Sortun really captures Middle Eastern food at Oleana. It is an amazing journey through every course.

I love the food that Effi Naon makes at Barbounia NY. He is a true master of authentic Israeli cuisine.

Michael Solomonov from Zahav in Philly does wonders with his take on Middle Eastern food.

Q. Who has the best falafel in NYC?

A. Einat Admony at Taim –AMAZING!

Q. Shops anywhere in the world to buy great biscuits and what should we get?

A. Epice-Roellinger, Cancale, France: Galette Bretonnes.

Poilane, Paris: Punitions.

Minamoto Kitchoan, New York: soy crackers.

Adour, New York: Sandro Michtely’s macaroons.

Q. When you go back to Israel, do you have places you love to eat and what do you order?

A. I love:

Herbert Samuel (Yonatan Roshfeld): for every dish. Try the apple tart

Mul Yam: great seafood.

Catit (Meir Adony): great contemporary Israeli food.

Shimon: a tiny Yemenite restaurant open only for lunch. Amazing marrow and bean soup (get there early).

Q. Having worked in France, what are the restaurants there that you would send us to and what should we order?

A. Les Coquillage, Cancale, France: for seafood and desserts!

L’Olivier, Montpellier: Stephane Cocu makes amazing food.

En Mait Fais ce Qu’il Te Plaît, Lyon: for everything.

[See details.]


Details of Lior Lev Sercarz’s recommendations for where to eat and shop in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Lyon, Paris, and Tel Aviv.


Spices & Biscuits
New York and Online

724 11th Avenue
New York, NY 10019
T: 212.247.4407

Wed - Fri: 3pm - 7pm

Available Online


(listed in Specialty & Spreads)

Also Available At


75 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10011 (view map)
T: 609.647.4842



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Q & A

Photo Credit: David Engelhardt for Find. Eat. Drink.