February 27, 2011
Cherry Hill’s Stuart Davis was voted in as one of the top five finalists of the Manischewitz Company’s Man-O-Manischewitz Cook-Off recently.
The cook off, scheduled for March 31, is the only national kosher cooking competition in America, and challenges contestants to prepare family-friendly recipes incorporating one of Manischewitz’s all-natural broth flavors.
Davis, a father of four and instructor at Temple Beth Shalom, was the only finalist to be voted on by the general public, he also received a little help from his friends and neighbors.
“I have been part of the community for long time,” Davis said. “Parents spread the word, and Facebook is wonderful, so we rallied the troops and got the word out. It was definitely a community effort.”
Davis’ dish, Chicken and Egg Donburi, often considered the fast food of Japan, was inspired by his time working as an ESL teacher in the country.
“I was inspired by Asian cuisine,” Davis said. “It is Japanese comfort food, with many variations, so to keep it kosher, I had to be creative.”
To make the dish Manischewitz friendly, Davis substitutes a low-sodium broth. “I used low-sodium chicken broth due to the soy sauce,” Davis said. “I didn’t want it to be over salty, and I wanted the chicken flavor to come through.”
The home cook says he has always been passionate about food, and felt that this particular dish would stand out.
“Most kosher cooks aren’t familiar with Donbori,” Davis said. “I wanted something that highlighted a different ethnic profile. In my head I wanted to submit many different recipes, but I thought this was the most delicious and would differentiate me from the rest. Most kosher folks aren’t cooking these things.”
During the voting period, Davis received help from all over the world.
“My adoptive family in Japan checked out Facebook, and they voted from Japan,” Davis said. “I also had a first cousin in Austria, friends from Israel, and Canada vote. It was amazing how the word got out.”
Davis said he was both excited and nervous about the competition, but mostly excited.
“It is exciting to be validated and see where this takes me,” Davis said. “I like the journey and the challenge, and my kids are excited and looking forward to the excursion. I teach at Temple Beth Sholom in the teen education Hebrew school so my students are excited. My wife also teaches at the Kellman Brown Academy, and all the students and teachers are all eager to know what happens. During the voting period everyone was checking the percentages online and constantly telling me what percentage of the vote I had. I really want to thank everyone for their support.”
The purpose of the competition is to encourage home chefs to experiment with kosher products while preparing delicious recipes that could become a new family favorite or that have been shared from generation to generation. The five finalists were selected from over thousands of entries nationwide and will compete live at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan for the $25,000 Grand Prize, which includes GE Profile kitchen appliances and cash.
The grand prize winner will be selected on site by a panel of prestigious foodies led by legendary chef Jacques Pepin, who for the second consecutive year will be the celebrity guest of honor. Chef Pépin is one of America’s best-known chefs, widely recognized as the host of eleven acclaimed public television cooking series and the author and publisher of 26 cookbooks.
He is also a founder of The American Institute of Wine and Food and has been the Dean of Special Programs at the French Culinary Institute (New York) since 1988.
Wednesday, April 06, 2011