Rabbi Todd Chizner, spiritual leader of Temple Judea, traded his yarmulke for a chef’s toque and became “Master Chef” Chizner for a special event recently when he led a large group of congregants in a special cooking experience, called “Latkes and Vodka”.
Because Chanukah was coming soon, “Chef” Chizner gave an extraordinary demonstration on how to make “latkes”, potato pancakes, which is a traditional Chanukah delicacy. He used the basic ingredients which are potatoes, onions and matzo meal.
The potatoes had to be peeled and grated, then squeezed out to get rid of excess water; the onions were grated and also squeezed to remove extra water. He demonstrated some shortcuts making these usually difficult and time-consuming jobs almost effortless.
After all the ingredients were expertly prepared and combined, “Chef” fried them in oil, giving helpful hints for keeping this process safe. All were treated to these wonderful homemade latkes, accompanied by applesauce.
It was truly an inspiration for the cooks in the congregation to watch the “Chef” make this delicacy and an inspiration to make these at home with the simple ingredients and simplified methods. In the past, it was rare during Chanukah celebrations that hosts made homemade “from-scratch” latkes because the process always seemed daunting. The group now saw otherwise and many will probably be inspired to make their own. These were especially delicious because the ingredients were pure, with no chemicals or preservatives.
Mara Levi, who is a Temple Judea congregant and owner of Mara’s Southern Kitchen, a restaurant in Syosset, ably assisted “Chef” Chizner and gave some valuable hints for making latkes for large groups. She usually makes over 700 latkes at a time for her restaurant patrons. She also gave a recipe and demonstration for a blueberry/vodka drink and made enough for the entire group to enjoy.
A brief history of Chanukah was given by Rabbi Chizner and the significance of oil and lights being parts of the celebration of Chanukah..
Future cooking events are being planned by “Chef” Chizner which may include making challah, Hamentaschen, and matzoh ball soup.
Temple Judea is located at 333 Searingtown Road, Manhasset (off exit 36 on LIE) and can be reached at (516) 621-049 or www.temple-judea.com. New members are always welcome. First year of membership is free.