Sunday, April 17, 2011

5th Annual Man-O-Manischewitz Contest


April 6, 2011

Jamie Geller was one of the judges at the 5th Annual Man-O-Manischewitz Cook-off at which Stuart Davis, 45, from Cherry Hill, NJ with his Chicken and Egg Donburi (recipe can be found on the Manischewitz website) was crowned King of Kosher on Thursday March 31 2011. Davis received a grand prize worth $25,000 which includes: state of the art kitchen appliances, cash, over night stay in NYC, crystal trophy, and Manischewitz product.

Stuart was selected as a finalist through the “Online Voting” component that allowed consumers to have a say in the finalist selection process. The other four contestants were selected from thousands of entries.

Stuart is a father of three girls and one boy. Although cooking is his passion, this is the first contest he has ever entered! Stuart was a mortgage banker for 10 years and now teaches a class called “Digesting Hebrew” at Temple Beth Shalom in his hometown. Previously, he taught English in Japan (the inspiration for this dish) and speaks the language fluently. Entries were judged on appearance, taste, ease of preparation and originality & creativity.

The five contestants competed live in NYC at The JCC In Manhattan, in front of hundreds of guests and a prestigious panel of judges including,, Weight Watchers, Kosher Cookbook author Jamie Geller, the Culinary Arts Director at The JCC In Manhattan, spearheaded by legendary Chef Jacques Pepin.

The five finalists, selected from over thousands of entries, were challenged to prepare family-friendly recipes incorporating one of the Manischewitz All-Natural broth flavors including the new Vegetable Broth which joins the existing line of Beef, Chicken and Reduced-Sodium Chicken flavors. In addition, Mayor Bloomberg has proclaimed the date as “Man-O-Manischewitz” Cook-Off day!

“What a thrill and honor to be named the Manischewitz Cook-Off Champion.” said Stuart Davis, Grand Prize Winner. “I have loved Manischewitz products all my life and to think they have made me a “cooking champion” is a dream come true.”

The dishes prepared by the other contestants were: Moroccan Chicken Bowl by Naylet LaRochelle of Miami FL; Shallot Smothered Chicken by Dina Burcat, Baltimore MD; Simple Fisherman’s Stew by Suzanne Banfield, Basking Ridge NJ; and Golden Sweet Potato Tagine by Jeanette Nelson, Sophia WV.

To see more photos from the event, please go to our Facebook album.

Freedom in the kitchen: Manichewitz Cookoff winner likes to take traditional recipes and turn them upside down


Apr. 12, 2011

Steam rises as Stuart Davis of Cherry Hill, winner of the Manischewitz Cook-Off, prepares a pot of Chicken-and -Egg Donburi. Davis has adapted the Asian comfort food for a kosher kitchen. Davis developed a taste for Chicken-and-Egg Donburi while working in Japan as an English teacher. He says the dish is a big hit with kids. / JOHN ZIOMEK Courier-Post

Stuart Davis didn't even test the recipe he threw together just in time to beat the Man-O-Manischewitz Cookoff deadline on Dec. 31.

Things were crazy-busy for the married father of four, what with his daughter's bat mitzvah and all.

"I was confident enough that it would work," said Davis, 45.

Lucky for him, it did.

Just in time for Passover, the Cherry Hill resident recently took the grand prize in the cooking contest, beating out thousands of hopefuls with his version of Japanese comfort food he called Chicken-and-Egg Donburi. He used Manischewitz chicken stock and wasabi sauce to reinterpret the dish for the kosher kitchen.

"It was an easy dish to prepare," said Davis.

And yummy, too. A few weeks ago, he whipped up the dish alongside four other finalists in New York City, where he served it to discerning judges such as Jacques Pepin.

An amateur foodie, Davis entered the cooking contest at the insistence of a family friend.

Davis was forever riffing off world cuisines in his kosher kitchen, switching out this or that ingredient, playing with ideas and flavors he experienced while working in Japan as an English teacher.

The former mortgage broker does the same at Temple Beth Sholom, where he teaches a class for kids called "Digesting Hebrew," using food to teach the language.

Stuart Davis developed a taste for Chicken-and-Egg Donburi while working in Japan as an English teacher. He says the dish is a big hit with kids. / JOHN ZIOMEK/Courier-Post

With his glass trophy perched on the kitchen counter, Davis demonstrated the dish on a recent morning, cutting chicken breast into chunks before dumping it into a pan of simmering chicken stock, soy sauce, mirin, wasabi and sugar. As the chicken poached, he scrambled four eggs, cracking each and checking for blood spots before adding them to the bowl.

Stirred into the chicken, the eggs became a silky thickener for the poaching liquid. When the eggs were cooked, he poured the mixture over white rice and topped it all with chopped scallions, red bell pepper, and some pickled daikon radish.

The basic recipe gives him room to play; there are other ways he can prepare the chicken, other ingredients he can throw in.

Scallions and chicken simmer in broth made by Stuart Davis in his Cherry Hill kitchen. / JOHN ZIOMEK/Courier-Post

"Kids in Japan love this," said Davis. His kids -- ages 3, 6, 10 and 13 -- approve, too.

"If all your kids like it, then it's a winner," said Davis, with a laugh.

Davis' win is translating into professional cooking opportunities, and he's already been hired to cook privately during the 10-day Passover holiday.

Recently, he demonstrated his fresh take on Passover cooking at the Voorhees Town Center, where he prepared his own "East meets West" recipes: a chicken soup filled with Turkish-style meatballs and leeks; charoset with dates, almonds, wine, ginger, apples and raisins; a chicken tangine of apricots, prunes, cinnamon and ginger; quinoa pilaf; and a crustless quiche of broccoli, leeks, mushrooms and eggs.

"I like to take tradition and turn it upside down," said Davis. "Passover is the festival of freedom. You should feel liberated and try different things."

"One of the commandments is actually all who are hungry should come and eat, and invite those who are hungry," he said. "So why shouldn't you try other foods and embrace flavors from all over?"

Reach Kim Mulford at (856) 486-2448 or

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