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Chicken Soup 2018

This Year’s Chicken Soup Cook-off Adds Additional Philanthropic Element

On Sunday, January 28, the Wise Temple Brotherhood will host the 14th annual Chicken Soup Cook-off, and with it, a new philanthropic event for attendees to participate in.

Those who bring cans of soup and other nonperishable food – which will ultimately be donated to the Jewish Family Services’ Heldman Family Food Pantry – will receive additional raffle tickets and entry into select door prizes. “The Brotherhood visited the pantry this past year and we thought this was one way we could help support that organization,” explained longtime Cook-off co-organizer and Brotherhood member Rick Seelig. “We like to support the community.”

This is a new addition to the Brotherhood’s ongoing charity work, not just at the Cook-off but within Wise Temple and the community at large. Proceeds from the event help support the Brotherhood’s work with organizations like Lighthouse Youth Services, and each year, any leftover soup immediately gets donated to the soup kitchen in Walnut Hills.

Last year, 72 gallons was delivered, making for a year-to-date total of 847 gallons brought to the nonprofit since the Cook-off began in 2003.

Among the 24 pros competing in such categories as “Best Matzo Ball” and “Most Original” are Bravo’s, Brown Dog Café, Izzy’s, several Kroger locations, and Parkers Blue Ash Tavern, as well as the Mayerson Jewish Community Center and Cedar Village, among others. “We’re also excited about Shapiro’s deli joining us this year,” said Seelig, who co-runs the Cook-off with creator and fellow Brotherhood member Jay Rissover. (Shapiro’s, the famed Indianapolis-based Kosher-style deli, opened a location in Blue Ash in 2017.) The amateur category also is still in effect.

This year’s judges include such notable names as Brian Thomas, host of iHeartRadio’s 55KRC morning show; Chris O’Brien, co-host of WGRR 103.5’s “Chris and Janeen” morning show; Polly Campbell, restaurant critic for the Cincinnati Enquirer; Julie Niesen Gosdin, author of the local food blog Wine Me Dine Me; and even Ohio stat rep. Brad Wenstrup. As always, attendees will get to vote for the People’s Choice Award, which ‘Wich on Sycamore took home last year for its Thai Chicken Coconut Curry soup.

Other events include a “soup-er” silent auction, a raffle, and giveaways (including free bagels). The afternoon also will see the reunion of popular Wise Temple music group Shir Chadash, who just recently went their separate ways after 13 years of members volunteering their time to play contemporary Jewish music during Shabbat services.

But the main event, says Seelig, is “to have fun and enjoy some great soups.”

The 14th annual Chicken Soup Cook-off takes place Sunday, January 28, from 12:15 PM – 2:15 PM at Wise Center. Free shuttle buses will be provided for overflow parking at the nearby JCC. Entry is $6 for adults, and $3 for children, with a $16 max per family. To learn more, please visit

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