What would bubbe do? Infuse her matzo-ball soup with truffles and leeks? Prepare her brisket in red wine, then serve it on a puree of sweet potatoes, topped with pickled pearl onions and accompanied with a dollop of tzimmes?
Probably not. But she may have eaten it — after all, a meal’s a meal — and possibly even approved. (Or kept her reservations to herself.) One thing’s for certain: Bubbe, or most of the bubbes we know, would not have thought to make a hummus kawarma, a plate of ground chickpeas and little warm cubes of seasoned beef, all in a lemony sauce.
Yet that’s what won the prize last night in Philadelphia’s first-ever Bubby’s Cook-Off. The idea for the event came from Rabbi Yehuda Shemtov, who had the chutzpah to ask six local chefs — two of them James Beard winners — to each come up with a modern spin on traditional Jewish foods, and make the dish kosher and competitive. (Only one of the six chefs makes a living in a kosher kitchen.)
This blog post is cross-posted from What Is Your Food Worth.
Ask anyone who’s the biggest macher on Philadelphia’s Jewish restaurant scene, and the answer is invariably the same: Chef Michael Solomonov.
Chef Solomonov is best known for Zahav, his shrine to modern Israeli cooking. But in recent years, he’s added Percy Street Barbecue and the Federal Donuts chicken-and-doughnut joints to his growing restaurant empire.
In early November, Chef Solomonov threw the doors open on his newest venture, the Main Line glatt kosher restaurant and catering company Citron and Rose. He’s re-imagining some kosher classics (chopped liver paired with sour cherry, chocolate and pumpernickel; cholent with crispy duck breast standing in for the classic beef or chicken) and even serving a few kosher cocktails (the Lower East Side, made with gin, cucumber and dill; the Reb Roy, with Manischewitz replacing the Rob Roy’s vermouth). Here’s a look at the complete dinner menu.