For the second year in a row (and the third time in four years), Brooklyn’s Peter Shelsky won the People’s Choice Award at Latke Festival (colloquially known as Latkefest), the annual fundraising dinner and latke-making competition, which was held Monday December 18 at the Brooklyn Museum. Shelsky co-owns deli and appetizing shop Shelsky’s of Brooklyn in Cobble Hill with Lewis Spada.
“It was awesome,” Shelsky said. “We’re competitive, so we like to win.”
The Judge’s Choice Award went to Benchmark Restaurant, a steakhouse in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood.
Shelsky’s latke was a riff on the Rueben sandwich: a caraway-seed studded latke stuffed (before frying) with Swiss cheese and Riesling-braised sauerkraut and topped that with corned beef and Russian dressing.
The great diversity of ingredients found in the various latkes this year prompted us to wonder what makes a latke a latke, and what a latke should contain — and not contain — to be considered Jewish. Stay tuned for that exploration in a post coming later this week.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Sylvia Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching healthy eating habits to children and their families.
“It’s become a cause that Lewis and I really get behind,” Shelsky said. Spada and Shelsky have hosted a fundraiser for the Sylvia Center at the store. “As food people we think that what they’re doing as an organization is incredibly important.”
Liza Schoenfein is food editor of the Forward. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @LifeDeathDinner