Kosher Chili Cook-Off is Sunday, March 15 [EVENT CANCELED]
Photo: TJP Archive
Tiferet Israel will defend its title at this year’s Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-Off. Pictured from left is last year’s first place team along with event co-chair Ed Jerome: Jerome, Anant Chandler, Idalee Cathcart, Warren Zahler, Alana Zahler and Zoe Zahler.

Teams are ready toget cookin’

By Alexandra Lang
Rain, shine or coronavirus, Tiferet Israel plans to host the 27th Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off on March 15. The event is a perennial favorite among the Dallas Jewish community and typically draws crowds of around 4,000 people throughout the day.
Historically, the cook-off has had “the largest attendance of any event in the North Texas Jewish community,” said Ed Jerome, co-chair.
Jerome said that some people have asked whether the coronavirus was a concern; he said that the event coordinators are taking measures in accordance with health officials’ recommendation (see sidebar). “As of 7 a.m., Tuesday, the City of Dallas Office of Special Events encouraged City-permitted events to proceed as scheduled,” he added.
At presstime Tuesday, there were three confirmed cases of coronavirus in Frisco (all members of the same family), one presumptive positive case in Dallas (a 77-year old visitor to the area who is hospitalized) and one presumptive positive case in Tarrant County (the person diagnosed had traveled to a conference in Kentucky in late February.
“We are monitoring the situation and will follow CDC guidelines,” Jerome said. He added that he hopes that people will use good judgment and take personal responsibility when it comes to attending and volunteering.
At the event, 29 beef and four veggie teams will compete.
The teams will be evaluated by six judges with professional culinary experience; attendees will get to vote on their favorite chili to win the People’s Choice award.
Proceeds will go to the Mental Health Services at Jewish Family Service of Dallas.
“We felt that there is so much news today regarding mental health issues and the problems that come with it, like drug abuse, domestic violence, etc.,” he said. “It’s important to highlight Jewish Family Services because they’ve been working on this issue for decades.”
In addition to the contest, the event will feature live music, a balloon artist, various games and an art show and sale by the Texas Jewish Artists Association. The exhibition will include paintings, mosaics, sculptures and glass creations; it will be open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to a press release from Jerome.
The Drug Take-Back program will also return this year as part of an effort to give the community the opportunity to anonymously drop off expired and addictive drugs.
“It was very popular last year,” Jerome said. “The DEA was very excited about the material returned.”
The judges
The six judges for the event all have a lot of experience in the culinary world.
Chef Deborah Benaim’s cooking style is inspired by her birth country of Venezuela and her background, which includes Spain, Morocco and Israel; those cultural connections led her to starting her own catering company and creating the first ever Kosher Latin food truck, which served Venezuelan food with Middle Eastern influence.
David Feder is a former chef in Dallas and Austin, and he and his family have been part of Tiferet Israel for almost 60 years. After years of working for magazines and writing the book “The Skinny Carbs Diet Book,” he is now the executive editor–technical for Prepared Foods magazine.
Dotty Griffith is an award-winning journalist, best-selling cookbook author, and former food editor and restaurant critic for The Dallas Morning News. She teaches culinary journalism at The University of North Texas and is food editor of Katy Trail Weekly.
Danny Hall is the executive chef of Embassy Suites Hotel in Frisco who has been passionate about food and restaurants for 25 years, especially Italian, French, and Thai cuisines.
Jordana Kohn is the co-owner of The Market cafe, which opened six months ago; but Kohn has been exposed to the food industry through her family, which includes several generations of kosher butchers. Kohn graduated as valedictorian from Le Cordon Bleu of Dallas, and she began rising in the Dallas kosher community as the executive chef at A Taste of the World Catering.
Michael Mrugala has been in the food industry or 43 years, and he is the culinary instructor at Tarrant County College; he is also membership chairman and on the board of directors for the Dallas Chapter of the Texas Chefs Association.
Admission costs $12 for adults. The price for kids aged 4 to 10 is $6, which includes a free hot dog; children 3 or younger are free.
The price of a kid’s wristband for unlimited rides has been reduced to $10 from $15 because of “the generosity of our sponsors,” Jerome said. The wristband allows kids unlimited access to the rides and games for the whole day.
“We have some new games and rides this year, and it’s going to be a great day to eat chili and have fun,” he said.

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