Bearing some of the coldest Friday night weather the New Rochelle Jewish community has ever seen, approximately 250 Young Israel of New Rochelle members and their friends and families attended the fifth annual YINR Cholent Throwdown and Kugel Expo on February 20th.
Fourteen entrants created delicious cholents from a variety of common ingredients, including potatoes, flanken, beans, barley, and kishka—and a few added surprises, like raspberry vinaigrette, salami, pastrami, ginger root, hoisin sauce, and Dr. Pepper.
The competition kicked off on Thursday night, when the participants went to the YINR shul kitchen to prepare their dishes with ingredients purchased by the committee. Until Shabbos, they could go to the shul and check on their dishes if desired.
On Friday night, prior to doors opening, judges Uri Weinstein, Dini Klein, and Tamar Weinberg sampled all of the cholents and scored each on a scale of 1 to 10. Doors to the main event opened at 8, and the cholents were served to the entire community by the participants themselves. Diners also enjoyed an open bar of some of the finest spirits and liquors, assuming they were of age, and various types of kugels (salt and pepper, potato, and potato/meat) were also enjoyed by the entire community.
Following the official judging, a popular vote was carried out by the attendees. Each person was given one ticket to vote on their top pick for the night, with an overall popular winner ultimately chosen.
Judges’ pick winners were Carey Schreiber in second place and Shlomit Storfer in first place. Talya Laufer was the winner of the popular vote.
Shlomit, the Judge’s Pick, won a crock pot emblazoned with the words YINR Top Chef and the emblem of the YINR Cholent Throwdown, and her name will go on a plaque that will be on display in the shul.
“Our annual cholent contest and kugel expo proves to be one of the shul’s most popular events,” said Dan Lurie, committee chair and organizer. “On one of the coldest nights of the year, we had approximately 250 people enjoying hot cholents, a variety of kugels and a drink or two. The evening attracts people from across our membership and gives everyone a chance to socialize in a relaxed environment—no fundraising, just cholent and kugel! Our judges were terrific and took to the challenge of tasting 14 cholents with ease. We are looking forward to next year’s competition!”
Indeed we are.
By Tamar Weinberg