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Fried and glory! Latke cookoff features Brooklyn’s best chefs on Monday

The Brooklyn Paper
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Talk about grate expectations.

The borough’s top latke makers will transform the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s annual Latke Festival on Monday night into a vertible all-star game of shredded fried potatoes — a Hanukkah miracle if there ever was one.

Noah Bernamoff from Mile End Deli, The Vanderbilt’s Saul Bolton, and the Gold Coast Delicatessen’s Adam Ross are the front runners, along with dark horse contestant Dori Fern, who won an Edible Brooklyn competition this month with her “Double-Happiness Potato Latkes with Five-Spice Duck Confit.”

Fern is an iconoclast in the world of shredded, fried potato pancakes — a Hanukkah staple since at least the Diaspora. But fancy doesn’t impress Bernamoff.

“Our secret ingredient has stood the test of time and should render us victorious in the latke battle,” said the pastrami king of Hoyt Street, who was as tight-lipped as a Maccabee.

In case you’ve been living under the Western Wall for 2,000 years, latkes are fried pancakes traditionally comprised of grated potatoes and onions, though some cooks add carrots, zucchini, celery root, and other vegetables to the mix.

Judges don’t care what a chef does — as long as it’s good.

“The winner is judged far more on final flavor than the other factors — its gotta taste amazing or it doesn’t stand a chance, no matter the story or the sourcing,” said judge Rachel Wharton of Edible Brooklyn, who will compare notes with World Trade Center Memorial architect Michael Arad, food writer Melissa Clark, and, of course, Borough President Markowitz.

The Beep, a noted member of the tribe and a dedicated fresser, insists the best latkes are made with metal graters, are “light and fluffy,” and fried with olive oil (olive oil? Is he nuts?).

“There are two camps among latke eaters — applesauce or sour cream — and I like mine smothered with lots of sour cream,” said Markowitz. “But since I don’t cook, the best latkes taste even better when they’re made by someone else.”

Amen to that.

Latke Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music [30 Lafayette Ave. at Fulton Street in Fort Greene, (718) 636-4100], Dec. 19, 6:30-9 pm. Tickets $30. For info, www.bam.org.

Reach reporter Aaron Short at ashort@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2547.
Updated 5:08 pm, December 19, 2011
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