Chef Elvis Trenchfield scored a double first place in the second annual Chicken Soup Cook-Off held at Temple Beth Sholom in Flushing.
Based in Freeport, L.I., his Caribbean cuisine won first place last year as well. The cook-off was decided by four judges, including state Sen. Tony Avella, Gregg P. Sullivan and Crystal C. Long of Bayside Live TV, and Lisa Arias, a diplomat from the Spanish Consulate.
Maria’s Mediterranean from Bayside came in second, while Iavarone took third.
Attendees paid $18 to sample soups from 18 vendors. Large pots of soup were brought in from the vendors as temple volunteers ladled out the samples.
In addition to the official judging, attendees were given a People’s Choice voting list to choose their top three favorites.
Chef Elvis was at the top of the list, but had just a one-point advantage over Ben’s Kosher Deli, which had the longest line. Each pint-sized container of Ben’s had a matzo ball and Manager David Czegledi offered potato latkes as well.
There was a three-way tie for third Place. Kalamaki in Flushing and Fontana in Bayside each had their Greek-style soup’s lemony flavor. Bourbon Street’s Cajun cuisine also it tingled the tastebuds of the crowd.
Barry Packer, chairman of the Temple Ways & Means Committee, was the man behind the event and was more than thrilled with the turnout.
“I know that last year we had about 150 and I would say this year, there were about 200,” Packer said. “So, while we were not sure what kind of turnout we would have gotten in our initial event, we now know that it is an event that people will crave. If we continue to market it strongly, and people tell people and they tell two people and so on, it is inevitable that we will have 300 people.”
Packer said that he would also add more tables and tell the vendors that instead bring 10 gallons of soup as opposed to the six to eight gallons that were required this year.
“We now know the popularity of the event; and we are ecstatic about it,” Packer said.
Maggie Moo’s provided ice cream for the event, while the Bagel Shoppe donated mini-bagels.
Other participating vendors included: Anthony’s of Oakland Gardens, which came up with a Spanish-style recipe; Bell Diner; Buddy’s; Cascarino’s; Season’s; Seven Seas Diner; Skyline Diner; and Terrace Diner.
Raffle prizes added another exciting element to the cook-off and included gift certificates from local restaurants.
The grand prizes were two vacation package deals. One of the packages was a trip to Cape Cod that included accommodations, restaurants, mini-golf and tickets to a drive-in movie theater. The second package, donated by Riverhead, included a trip to a vineyard with a wine and cheese party, two restaurants and a stay at Hotel Indigo.
The success of the event was immeasurable for Temple Beth Sholom, according to Packer.
“While we have been around for almost 70 years, in one sense, at a time when congregations of all religions are closing, it helps put our face on the map again; that people can see that this is only a small part of who we are and what we do,” he said. “As we are a small congregation, it brings everyone close together. Everyone wanted to help out, to play a part and everyone had fun.”