It was a close competition. But Noah’s Ark won the Teaneck Chili Cook Off organized by Jacob Goldberg of Yalla! on December 15. The judging was done by 50 families who brought home a package with samples of chili, identified only by letter on the containers, and ranked the samples from one star to their six-star favorite. Noah’s Ark received the most stars.
Six restaurants participated in the contest: The Humble Toast (A—168 stars), The Doghouse (B—93 stars), Sender’s Smoke Joint (C—189 stars), Yalla! (D—170 stars), Dougie’s (E—176 stars) and Noah’s Ark (F—202 stars). With one vote per family, there were many lively intra-family discussions, and continuous nibbling, until a winner was chosen. “My family had a blast tasting the different chilis and debating which one was our favorite,” wrote Laurie Beckerman. “It was such a fun and delicious activity.”
Chef David Kirschner, one of New York’s top private chefs, critiqued the samples. Each one had a different flavor profile and won his accolades. He liked the “nice deep color and rich sauce” of Noah’s Ark’s winning entry. “It had great beefy flavor. You can taste the roast from searing!” He complimented Sender’s chili, which had two sauces on top to add complexity. “Nice smokey heat, has personality!” he added. The Humble Toast’s chili was “dark, rich, simple.” The chili from the Doghouse was made with a “deep, rich” barbecue sauce. Yalla’s Mediterranean entry “had nice Moroccan spices, bright, vibrant, with good acidity.” Dougie’s chili had “great mellow heat” and a nice sweet and sour taste.
Goldberg planned the competition to highlight the great kosher food being made by Teaneck’s talented chefs, who were happy to participate. Anyone who wanted to be a judge registered on the Yalla! website and followed the restaurants on Instagram. “Everything turned out as well as I expected or better,” said Goldberg. “It was a fun, family game that involved food, flavor and real businesses around town. I’ve got tons of messages back saying ‘thank you’ and asking when we are doing it again.”
Goldberg is already thinking about a post-pandemic chili cook-off next year. “We are hoping to turn it into a block party once COVID is behind us,” he said, “maybe have outside soup kettles with different chilis while people walk down the block and get to taste and vote right there and then.”
By Bracha Schwartz