On Thursday April 7 2011 YU held its annual Cholent Cook Off where groups of students congregated to demonstrate their cholent-making prowess. Previously, on Wednesday April 6th, they had all convened in Belfer Hall to assemble their cholents, as these dishes need plenty of time to cook. This being YU the teams were all male – and the people assembled in the hall were all mostly male, with a token female here and there.
Walking into the building on Thursday afternoon the cholent aroma hit me like a wall of beans. But all the judges came prepared (hopefully with cast iron stomachs) to taste SIXTEEN different cholents. I hope they knew what they signed up for. The teams had named themselves with much ingenuity – “the Maccabeans”, “the Cholent Pot Heads” and “The Golden Ladles” to name but a few.
There was a wonderful atmosphere in the room as the judges were given their instructions, and started the task of sampling the many variations of this traditional dish. I was glad I wasn’t judging – it’s against my religion to eat cholent on any day other than Shabbat. After each taste test, the judges raised their score paddles and the scores were tallied. At the front of the hall was a huge scoreboard to help everyone keep track. When the first 10 was awarded a huge cheer broke out.
The judges – Jamie Geller, Dr Esther Joel, Elan Kornblum, Elana Newhouse, Alan Riesenburger, David Samuels and Chef Avram Wiseman – went from table to table, sampling and tasting and digesting all of the different cholents arrayed in front of them. I would have quit after the fourth or fifth, but they were such troupers! The previous year there had been a Smores cholent and one with mango…. That’s enough to turn anyone’s stomach! This year though, the entries were much more traditional – no barf bags needed.
At the end of this epic cholent tasting all the results were tallied, with team “Mofongo” being the winners. They each won an iPod touch for their efforts. Team members were: Jonathan Adler, Achihud Adamit, Nelson Gruszczynski, and Zach Mammon. Well done, boys!!