On Monday, March 6, UW Hillel and Adamah Neighborhood Table hosted the 2nd annual Kosher Chopped competition as part of the Madison Area Chefs Network week. This year’s competitors included Adamah’s own executive chef, Jason Kierce, as well as Laila Borokhim of Layla’s Persian Food, Gil Altschul of Grampa’s Pizza and Porter Café, and Nick Johnson who was previously at 43 North, Stamm House, and Julep.
The chefs competed in three rounds in front of a live audience of community members and students. In each round, the chefs could use ingredients found in the Adamah kitchen. In addition to these ingredients, the chefs were also required to incorporate mystery ingredients in their dishes; the mystery ingredients were revealed at the beginning of each round. Obeying strict kosher supervision, the chefs prepared and presented to a panel of three expert judges: faculty members from Madison College’s culinary arts program. The judges awarded points based on presentation, creativity, and taste. Additionally, bonus points were awarded based on applause from the audience. After each round, one chef was "chopped" until a winner was crowned.
In the first round, the chefs had 15 minutes to create a dairy appetizer that incorporated trail mix, condensed milk, and jalapenos. After the first round, chef Laila Borokhim was eliminated leaving chefs Jason Kierce, Gil Altschul, and Nick Johnson to compete in round two. In the second round, the chefs had 30 minutes to create an entrée using lamb chops, tomatillos, and spicy horseradish mustard. (The mustard was generously donated by the event’s emcees, Barry and Patti Levenson, founders and curators of The National Mustard Museum.) The scores were close after the entrée course, but only two chefs could move on to the dessert round. In the final round that would declare the victor, chefs Nick Johnson and Jason Kierce were tasked with creating a pareve dessert in 30 minutes using kasha, silken tofu, and soy milk. In the end, Nick Johnson narrowly defeated Jason Kierce for the championship. “The whole thing was fun. I think my favorite was dessert round,” said Johnson. “I learned a lot about cooking kosher and I have a lot of respect for those who follow that way of eating. The commitment and dedication should be more recognized in culinary culture." Kierce was gracious in defeat on his home turf, adding that he was “just happy to be a participant.”
Adamah Neighborhood Table’s assistant manager, Ben Clark, directed teams of assistants from Madison College who acted as helpers to the chefs. The action was captured and displayed in real time from four different camera angles provided by Wisconsin Public Television. In addition, UW Hillel intern, Brandon Fishman created promotional videos and pre-taped interviews with chefs that were shown during the cooking rounds. Other in-show entertainment included UW Jewish Studies professor, Jordan Rosenblum, explaining the origins and customs of kashrut, Rabbi Andrea Steinberger telling Jewish food jokes, and Barry and Patti Levenson’s commentary and banter with the chefs, judges, and audience. UW Hillel and Adamah Neighborhood Table are excited to share that an edited version of the show will be coming soon. Kosher Chopped provided a packed evening at 611 Langdon Street. The program featured good competition for the chefs, fun for the audience, and great exposure for the Madison Area Chefs Network, Madison Chef Week, and Adamah Neighborhood Table.
Adamah Neighborhood Table and UW Hillel look forward to continuing to serve delicious, kosher food to the UW Madison student population as well as the greater Madison community. The café is open Sunday through Thursday from 10am-8pm and 10am-2pm on Friday. Be sure to visit Adamah Neighborhood Table throughout the Passover holiday; the café is the only kosher for Passover restaurant in the state of Wisconsin. Take a break from cooking during the holiday and treat yourself to a delicious kosher for Passover lunch or dinner during the week of Passover. Bring your family, bring your friends. Make Adamah your neighborhood place for Passover; you will be glad you did. UW Hillel and Adamah Neighborhood Table will also be hosting seders on the first and second night of Passover.
UW Hillel and Adamah Neighborhood Table wish the Madison Jewish community a happy and healthy Passover. Happy Eating! For more information, please visit www.uwhillel.org/passover.