The Chicken Soup Cook-Off, a longstanding Wise Temple Brotherhood tradition, celebrates its 13th year this January 29, and as such, organizers are calling it the event’s “bar mitzvah” year, compete with two new categories and a record number of professional entries.
“We have 25 pros this year, the most of any year so far,” said Rick Seelig, an organizer who has been involved since Wise Temple Brotherhood member Jay Rissover first came up with the idea in 2003. “That’s a lot of soup you get to taste for $6.”
The Cook-off takes place from 12:00 PM – 2:15 PM on Sunday, January 29, at Wise Temple. (The event has grown so large that shuttle buses are now available for those who need to park at the nearby Mayerson Jewish Community Center.) In addition to all that soup, attendees can also enjoy live music, door prizes, a silent auction, and a “Kids’ Coop,” featuring kid-friendly activities and entertainment. Brotherhood member Chuck Arkin will perform a magic show at 12:30. Admission is $6 per adult, $3 per child, with a $16 maximum per family.
As always, all attendees are asked to vote for the People’s Choice Award – which the deli Izzy’s won last year with its chicken noodle soup – and in 2017, the day’s official judges will have two new categories to determine a winner in: best vegetarian, and Judge’s Choice. Other categories include best matzo ball, best noodle, and most original, as well as an award for best table decoration.
Seelig says the day is about “community, fun, and great food,” but is also about giving back: All proceeds from the event help support the Brotherhood’s charitable work, and any remaining soup from the day will be donated to the soup kitchen in Walnut Hills. In 2016, the Brotherhood donated 52 gallons to the same soup kitchen, with 775 gallons donated to date. “Last year we were able to take some of the proceeds and buy some pots and other utensils for them,” Seelig added.
With official hats for the event and some volunteers dressing up in chicken costume, this begs the question: why chicken soup, and not say, chili, the warming substance for which Cincinnati may be best known?
“Chicken soup is the Jewish penicillin,” Seelig said. “It cures everything. And on a cold January day, what more could you ask for?”
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