December 16, 2010
Showdown at the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts
The Kosher Critic
By Zechariah Mehler
At 10:45 on Sunday morning, Dec. 12, I sat in the SUV of the Head Chef of Etc., Seth Warshaw, wondering what I had done to deserve this. I had arrived promptly at 10:00 at the building that housed the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts (CKCA). There I expected to find three hobbyist chefs competing for a scholarship to the CKCA and the title of Next Great Kosher Chef. Instead I found a very sturdy security gate covering the building’s door. Then the sky opened up and a great deluge began.
I wandered the block looking for another way into the building. It was after a half-hour of wandering that Chef Warshaw found me, soggy and muttering. He assured me that as one of the judges of The Next Great Kosher Chef he had been given the same location as I was and was equally baffled. He was good enough to invite me into his car while we sorted things out. Unable to reach anyone at the Center, Chef Warshaw and I spoke for a few minutes about the inability to find a quality kosher truffle oil and debated the merits of giving up and going home. Thankfully, before we came to a decision, Jamie Geller, another judge, pulled up behind us. After being briefed on the situation, she was successful at reaching the CKCA’s event coordinator who gave us instructions on how to get inside. Once there I stood in a large kitchen set up as a culinary gauntlet and at the center were three eager contestants.
The concept behind the Next Great Kosher Chef competition was to test five key elements necessary in professional cooking: culinary IQ, stamina, palate, speed and creativity. To do this the CKCA had set up a number of challenges geared towards each of these skills. These challenges would all be filmed and later compiled into a video.