On Wednesday, March 28, Manischewitz hosted its 6thannual Kosher Cook-Off at the JCC in Manhattan. Five competitors from around the United States were selected to compete in a challenge sponsored by Manischewitz and Maytag, with a $25,000 grand prize as well as a new kitchen furnished by Maytag. Cookbook authors, chefs, restaurateurs, high school students, and magazine editors were among the attendees who were able to both watch the contestants prepare their dishes in an hour, as well as eat versions of their recipes cooked earlier by Simply Divine, a catering company based out of NYC.
A diverse array of judges was selected to be the authoritative voice at the competition, among them Joy of Kosher’s own Jamie Geller and Food Network’s Claire Robinson. Robinson seemed thrilled to be a part of this competition, and shared a few of her recipes with media using Manischewitz’s new line of All-Natural broth flavors. In the Q & A session that followed, Robinson, who hosts a show on Food Network called 5 Ingredient Fix in which she creates recipes using 5 or fewer ingredients, explained that she believes that the best dishes feature quality and straightforward ingredients. She shared her recipe for Short Ribs (which can even be made on Passover) and Chicken Pozole(which due to the corn cannot be made on Passover) using Manischewitz broth.
It was this philosophy of using a choice selection of quality ingredients that inspired the competing cooks to create recipes using Manischewitz’s stock alongside fewer than nine other ingredients. Recipes ranged from spins on traditional Jewish foods, Eric Silberman’s Mod Matzo Ball Soup to Italian style dishes, like Jacquie Serabrani-Kesner’s Gnocchi. All recipes incorporated one of Maischewitz’s All-Natural broth flavors, and in most cases, other Manischewitz products.
One thing that fascinated me was seeing the difference between what the chef’s recipes outlined and how Simply Divine prepared the same recipes for “the masses.” It showed me the difficulty cooks sometimes have in translating a recipe for someone else to re-create. The size and shape of various vegetables and noodles, as well as different vessels used to cook and serve the dishes, was extremely different between the competitors’ versions and the catered versions.
And the moment you have all been waiting for is the winner, Eric Silberman’s Mod Matzo Ball Soup (pictured above) earned him $25,000 including a new kitchen. Silberman is a 21-year-old Princeton University student from Illinois who enjoys cooking for his family, especially Matzo Ball soup for his family’s Shabbat dinners. Before he was announced as winner, restaurateur and cookbook author Levana Kirschenbaum said, “He’s cute, he can cook—I vote for him!” All I can say is what is a really tall 21 year old going to do with a $15,000 kitchen?
All the finalists recipes are available on Manischewitz's website.