Passover Cooking Contest at Josef's Table

The heart and soul of Jewish cooking is, as every child of Abraham knows, a mother's cooking. OK, technically, sometimes it's Grandma's cooking or an aunt's, but Jewish women are the ones who traditionally come together and prepare comforting food for high holidays or the weekly Sabbat.

Passover, or Pesach, is the feast of unleavened bread, and the highlight of this Jewish holiday is seder dinner, which takes place the first two nights. 

Nowadays, many people go out to nice restaurants that offer traditional seder menus, and Josef's Table in Boca Raton is one such restaurant. In addition, the restaurant is offering a little traditional home cooking in the form of a contest.

If your family has a favorite seder side dish -- either traditional or a more modern take -- you can enter it for consideration in Josef's Table's Passover Side Dish and Dessert Cooking Contest.

"We are doing this Passover Cooking Contest because we want to involve the Jewish community in our restaurant in a fun and creative way," said the owner of Josef's Table, Mel Lechner. "We serve a traditional seder menu the first two nights of Passover, and it will be wonderful to add new sides dishes and desserts that win the contest. Our panel of judges will include my Eastern-European executive chef, Josef Schibanetz; a rabbi from a local temple; and others."

They are looking for Pesach-appropriate submissions of side dishes and desserts such as potato kugel, spinach kugel, tsimis, vegetable medley, sponge cake, macaroons, meringue cookies, jelly tart, fudge, and flourless chocolate cake.

The judging will take place at the restaurant at 3 p.m., Thursday, March 7. Contestants should bring their recipe and sample dish ready to taste by the panel of judges.

There will be up to four winning dishes -- two sides and two desserts -- depending on the final number of contestants. 

Winners will receive a complimentary dinner for two for Passover ($84 value), the names of winners printed on Passover menu, and a $100 Josef's Table gift card for future use.

Josef's Table will serve traditional Passover Traditional Dinner on March 25 and 26 for $41.95 per person, in addition to the regular menu. Reservations begin at 5 p.m.

For additional information on the contest, contact Kim Morgan at 561-210-4411 or

Josef's Table is located at 5030 Champion Blvd., Boca Raton. Call 954-290-3521, or visit  

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Rebecca McBane is the arts and culture/food editor for New Times Broward-Palm Beach. She began her journalism career at the Sun Sentinel's community newspaper offshoot, Forum Publishing Group, where she worked as the editorial assistant and wrote monthly features as well as the weekly library and literature column, "Shelf Life." After a brief stint bumming around London's East End (for no conceivable reason, according to her poor mother), she returned to real life and South Florida to start at New Times as the editorial assistant in 2009. A native Floridian, Rebecca avoids the sun and beach at all costs and can most often be found in a well-air-conditioned space with the glow of a laptop on her face.
Contact: Rebecca McBane