“I’m really stoked to do this savory kugel,” said Chef Brooke Stockwell of K’Syrah Catering in Solvang, referring to an upcoming culinary celebration of Hanukkah that she is working on with Chef Drew Terp of Pico in Los Alamos. “And I’m always proud to share my family latke recipe with the world.”
The series, called 8 Days: An Edible Hanukkah Collaboration, runs through the eight days of the Jewish holiday, December 12-19. The first six days will be celebrated solely at Pico, where each day will feature a new dish in addition to the previous days’ offerings, much like how a new candle of the menorah is lighted each day to join the light of the others. Then on the seventh night, there will be a $25 event at K’Syrah Catering, with a cash bar for cocktails featuring Jewish ingredients, such as apple and pomegranate. And for the finale on night number eight, also at K’Syrah, there’s a $125 ($85 without wine), eight-course dinner for 75 people, paired with the wines of Jewish winemakers Mike Roth of Lo-Fi and Sandra Newman of Cebada Canyon, with more possibly to be added.
The idea was hatched initially by public relations consultant Anna Ferguson-Sparks, whose Stiletto Marketing represents both Pico and K’Syrah. Her mother is Jewish, and though Ferguson-Sparks isn’t religious, she always liked what Eric Greenspan did at The Foundry in Los Angeles during Hanukkah, creating special latkes and doughnuts for each of the eight nights. “I have been wanting to do something like this event for a few years now, as it seems that the Jewish holidays are under-celebrated in these parts,” said Ferguson-Sparks. “I know there’s an audience. There’s obviously not just three of us Jews out there!”
Though Terp is not Jewish and hasn’t studied the cuisine — but jumped at the chance to expand his horizons — Stockwell is uniquely qualified for the affair. Growing up in a nonreligious Jewish family of foodies in Lompoc, Stockwell briefly attended UCLA before deciding to head to Santa Barbara City College for culinary school. But before making the switch, she spent a month in Israel, where she was given specialized culinary training.
“They taught me all about kosher cooking and the laws of kashrut, so I got to learn about those aspects of Jewish food and explore Israeli food for the first time, which totally changed my mindset,” said Stockwell, who worked as a private chef and for various restaurants before starting at K’Syrah about a year ago. “Growing up in America, all we think about is the deli food.”
For her latkes, Stockwell swears by the old-school Acme Safety Grater, which gives the potatoes a pulpy rather than hash-brown-y texture. For the kugel, which is typically a sweet-leaning noodle casserole with cinnamon, raisin, and the like, she’s going savory, with gruyere cheese, kale, and challah bread for texture. “It’s just like a deconstructed blintz, the Jewish crêpe,” laughed Stockwell.
For the brisket, Stockwell and Terp will be sure to cook it long and slow. “Most people don’t realize how to truly treat that cut and will roast it for only a couple hours,” she said. “But brisket is something you really want to spend time on. You definitely want brisket tender and falling apart.”
And those are just three of the eight dishes on the eighth-night menu. Of course, said Stockwell, “There’ll be plenty of dreidels and gelt!”
8 Days: An Edible Hanukkah Collaboration runs Tuesday-Sunday, December 12-17, at Pico at The Los Alamos General Store (458 Bell St., Los Alamos) and Monday-Tuesday, December 18-19, at K’Syrah Catering (478 4th Pl., Solvang). See Eventbrite for tickets.