10th Annual Latke Festival

10th Annual Latke Festival

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On Monday, December 4th, the highly anticipated 10th Annual Latke Festival returned to NYC. Having consumed lotsa latkes during the festival at the Brooklyn Musuem last night, a panel of 13 judges and 500-plus latke-loving attendees determined the winners of the culinary competition and fundraiser for The Sylvia Center. The judges declared the Hoppin' John Latke, black-eyed peas, rice and potato latke, BBQ brisket, braise collards, crispy onions from Brooklyn’s Benchmark Restaurant their favorite, naming it Best Latke – this is Benchmark’s second consecutive year for that honor, having snagged the Best Latke award at last’s year’s event. 

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For the two new awards at the 2018 edition of the festival, the judges cited the Falafel Latke from Kulushkat, the Brooklyn-based Middle Eastern eatery as Best Creative Latke and Dima’s Sweet & Savory Short Rib Latke, slow braised short ribs, prune reduction and micro greens from Manhattan’s venerable Veselka  got the nod for Best Traditional Latke, its foundation being the 64- year-old Ukrainian restaurant’s traditional  homemade latke.  In a festival first, Veselka’s entry was a double winner, also named the People’s Choice Best Latke!

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One of most deliciously fun and eagerly anticipated events on New York City’s Holiday Season calendar, the Latke Festival – celebrating the scrumptious versatility of the potato pancake – was presented by  Great Performances, the highly-acclaimed New York-based catering and events company, as a benefit for The Sylvia Center, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching nutrition and cooking in  underserved  communities through hands-on experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. The evening showcased 24 latke creations, from the classic to the decadently imaginative, by chefs from such establishments as:  Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola; FONDA; FryGuys; Korso; Mama O’s; The Norm; Riss’s Knishes; and White Tiger. See complete list of participants here.

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The judging panel of influencers and food experts included: actress Debi Mazar and her celebrity chef husband Gabriele Corcos, hosts of Cooking Channel’s Extra Virgin; Dana Cowin, host of Heritage Radio’s Speaking Broadly (formerly long-time editor of Food & Wine); Alex Mayyasi, editor-in-chief of Gastro Obscura; David Berliner, president and COO of the Brooklyn Musuem; Tine Redwine, host of News12 CT’s “Chef’s Quick Tips;” Lee Schrager, director of the South Beach and New York City Wine & Food Festivals, and Howard Axel, CEO of Four Freedoms Park.  The full list of all 13 judges can be seen here.

“We’re so grateful to the participants who brought their culinary creativity to our event. It’s very gratifying all the winners have been long time supporters of the festival and The Sylvia Center.  In fact Veselka has been part of the Latke Festival all ten years of its existence,” notes Liz Neumark, the founder and CEO of Great Performances, which produces the event annually, and who also established The Sylvia Center.  “It’s so intriguing how different the winning latkes were, demonstrating, once again, the myriad ways chefs can work with potato pancakes.”


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A nutrition education and youth development organization that works in high-need, high-potential communities to show young people and their families how to establish healthy habits that lead to happier and more productive lives. The nonprofit works with more than 2,500 young people annually across New York City’s five boroughs and in Columbia County, N.Y. Through hands-on experiences in the kitchen and at on a farm in upstate New York, students learn to prepare and enjoy healthy food made fresh, whole ingredients.

Ten students from The Sylvia Center’s “Cooks for Health” program at the Williamsburg Community Center in Brooklyn are competing in the Latke Festival this year.  For more information about The Sylvia Center, please visit www.sylviacenter.org.



Established in 1980 as a waitress service that provided flexible part-time employment to women pursuing careers in the arts, Great Performances (GP) has grown to become New York City’s largest privately-held full-service catering, events production and retail hospitality company. GP is particularly distinguished by a propensity for innovation, a commitment to sustainability—GP was the first and remains the only catering concern in the U.S. to own and operate an organic farm*-- and a dedication to building communities around food.  GP’s roots in the arts are reflected by its exclusive partnerships with such prestigious cultural institutions as the Brooklyn Museum, BAM, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Apollo Theater and Asia Society.  For more information about GP, please visit greatperformances.com

Photo Credit: Eric Vitale Photography

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