While some dreamed of sugar plums and candy canes, a motley crew of gastric warriors gathered at Teaneck’s Cedar Lane Pedestrian Plaza Sunday morning, the fifth day of Chanukah, to put away enough potato pancakes to claim the title of champion of the seventh annual Ma’adan latke eating competition.
Last year’s winner, Teaneck Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen, entered the contest as the heavy favorite. While chugging a pitcher of water in between bites on his way to finishing nine latkes in the five-minute time limit, however, Gussen was upset by newcomer Marcos Owens of Hillside, who finished with 10. (In the interest of full disclosure, this reporter devoured seven latkes, a new personal best.)
Not only was Owens new to the competition, having heard about it from a friend, but he had never before eaten a latke. “They were good,” he said. “It felt good” to win.” Owens has won hot wing and chili eating contests, and he plans to defend his latke title next year unless it conflicts with his plans to join the International Federation of Competitive Eating. “I used to run cross-country track and I’ve always had a big appetite,” he said, lauding the carb value of potatoes.
Penina Krischer won the 12-and-under division, while Akiva Chasin won the teen division.
“We broke records,” said Stuart Kahan, co-owner of Ma’adan, the kosher take-out emporium that is about to enter its 30th year in business. “We had some new heavy hitters that came in for the adult category. Ten latkes in a five-minute period is quite an accomplishment.”
Kahan reminded attendees, though, that eating contests and extravagant kiddushes are a luxury, and he urged support for area food banks. “While we’re having this food fest,” he said, “we should all keep in mind those in need.”