A strange aroma filled the Washington Heights air as hundreds of students, faculty and curious visitors filed into Yeshiva University’s Weissberg Commons on March 11 for the 2010 Cholent Cook-Off. Sixteen teams made up of 64 students from the men’s undergraduate schools, Yeshiva College and Sy Syms School of Business, went head-to-head in a culinary battle to proclaim a true Cholent Champion.Students prepared their dishes the night before using a variety of ingredients and techniques in an attempt to impress the panel of discriminating palates.
The contest judges included Dr. Esther Joel, wife of YU President Richard M. Joel; chef, restaurateur, TV personality and author Jeff Nathan (Abigael’s); renowned kosher chef and best selling author of Kosher by Design, Susie Fishbein; catering director and executive chef of Fairway Market, Alan Riesenburger; and president and publisher of Great Kosher Restaurants Magazine, Elan Kornblum.
“One of the nice things about this year’s contest is that we tied it in with our food drive for the Upper Manhattan Food Pantry,” said Jonathan Mantell, director of university housing and organizer of the cook-off. “So that way it’s not just about having fun, but it’s also about thinking of other people.”
Shloimie Zeffren, president of the Yeshiva Student Union-one of the event’s sponsors, said that it was important for them “to be part of this because it brings all of the students together and shows the unity we have in our university. It also shows what great chefs we have among our students.”
After a three-way dead heat was announced, President Joel was called in to break the tie. Despite some humorous attempts by the teams at winning over the President, Team Heerlijk, Flemish for “delicious,” was crowned cholent champion.
Winning team members David Kupperman, Jonathan Lamet, Jason Wargon and Eric Kupferstein were all awarded iPods. Second and third prize went to teams Cholent Fulfillment and the Maccabeans.
“This is like the biggest kiddush ever,” observed one student in attendance, while reaching for his second serving. “It’s a great opportunity for students to just get together and have a fun time. Oh, and the cholent’s pretty good, too.”