The Best Thing We Ate This Week (so far): The Latke Festival


Though the week is young, we’re ready to declare the best food this week: Latkes. Chanukah began on Sunday night and to celebrate, catering company Great Performances held a latke festival at the Metropolitan Pavilion.

20 competitors from some of New York’s best restaurants including Toloache, Veselka, and L&W Oyster Co. came out to make the popular Jewish comfort food, and they went far beyond applesauce and sour cream. Bases for the creations included traditional potato, sweet potato, zucchini, spaghetti squash, and even a waffled sweet potato. Guests could vote on their favorite, judges picked a favorite, and despite the fact that we consumed enough calories for all eight nights of Chanukah, a good time was had by all.

Park Slope’s Benchmark Restaurant made it fancy, with a Caraway Scented Latke with Pastrami-style Short Rib, Truffled Sauerkraut, & Mustard Creme. Shelsky’s of Brooklyn did a “Hot Pastrami Latke”: a Schmaltz Fried Caraway Studded Potato Latke with Riesling Braised Sauerkraut and Deli Mustard — essentially the ultimate Jewish deli sandwich but with a Latke instead of bread. Toloache gave us a Latke de Pato, with Duck Confit Tinga and Chipotle (one of our favorites of the night). Other toppings from different vendors included chana masala, gravalax, pickled daikon, and pretty much everything else you could imagine.

Guest judges included Ilan Hall Dig Inn’s Adam Eskin, and Time Out NY’s Christina Izzo.

Not surprisingly, Veselka was the judge’s favorite. This feels a bit like Beyoncé trying out for American Idol and winning- Veselka is a year-round latke joint. But, they also had the goods. Their potato pancake had a julienned mushroom on top that was outrageously good.

The people’s choice award went to Bamcafe,  whose offering was a traditional potato pancake topped with Applewood-Smoked Duck Confit with Lingonberry Chutney.

It was a great way to kick off Chanukah, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s festival!


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