Yeshiva University Students Square Off at Annual Cholent Cook-Off
Hundreds of students, faculty and staff filled Yeshiva University’s Weissberg Commons on April 7 for the 2011 Cholent Cook-Off. The annual event consisted of 16 teams comprising 64 students going head to head to earn bragging rights for the tastiest and most original version of this quintessential Shabbat dish. The event was sponsored by YU’s Office of University Housing.
In keeping with the tradition of slow-cooking the Shabbat stew, each team prepared their cholent the night before using a variety of ingredients and techniques in an attempt to impress the panel of discriminating palates.
“Cholent is unique. It’s another one of the Jewish foods of oppression and deprivation,” said David Samuels, a noted food critic and one of the contest’s judges. “It also tastes a lot better than matzah.”
The other judges included Dr. Esther Joel, wife of YU President Richard M. Joel; Elan Kornblum, president and publisher of Great Kosher Restaurants Magazine; Chef Avram Wiseman, senior culinary instructor at the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts; Jamie Geller, chief marketing officer of Kosher.com and author of Quick & Kosher: Recipes From The Bride Who Knew Nothing; Alan Riesenburger, catering director and executive chef of Fairway Market; and Alana Newhouse, editor-in-chief of Tablet magazine. The meat for the competition, Kobe-Wagyu beef, was donated by A.D. Rosenblatt Kosher Meats.
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The Cook-Off helped raise money for Students Helping Students, a student-run organization that supports undergraduate scholarships at Yeshiva.
“The charity component is one of the main ingredients, so to speak, of this event,” said Jonathan Mantell, director of university housing and an organizer of the cook-off. “This is an opportunity for students to get together and have a good time but also to help out their fellow students.”
“There are a lot of events like this on campus, most of which are completely student-run,” said Chanoch Berenson, member of Team Maccabeans and biology major at Yeshiva College. “This is a great way for students to get together, have fun, be creative and do something positive.”
After all the cholents were sampled and all the judges’ scores tallied, Team Mofongo was awarded first place with team members Achihud Adamit, Jonathan Adler, Nelson Gruszczynski and Zach Mammon each receiving an iPod Touch. Second and third place prizes were awarded to teams The Golden Ladles and LA, respectively.
Click here to listen to the April 7, 2011 edition of “Who’s on Furst,” YU’s weekly internet radio program, including an interview with President Richard M. Joel, presented live from the Cholent Cook-Off.