Jamie Brown-Miller has made the most of her second chance.
The Napa resident won the Manischewitz All-Star Cook-Off last week in New York City with her recipe for waffled latkes with matzah-fried chicken and spicy syrup.
“I can’t believe it,” Brown-Miller crowed just hours after beating out four others in the March 27 competition at the JCCâ€ˆin Manhattan. “I have won some prestigious cooking contests before, but this is the biggest prize package.”
Brown-Miller brought home a trophy and also will receive cash and Maytag kitchen appliances in a prize package valued by Manischewitz at $25,000.
Not only did Brown-Miller, 38, become just the second Bay Area cook to take the top prize in the 8-year-old competition, but she also has given the Bay Area two straight wins. Last year, Josie A.G. Shapiro of San Francisco captured the title with her “Faux Pho” recipe. Shapiro, a fundraiser at the JCC of San Francisco, now writes a biweekly recipe column for J.
Brown-Miller was getting a second chance in the contest thanks to Manischewitz’s decision to break format this year. Instead of scouring the nation for five new competitors, the company invited 30 previous, non-winning finalists to submit a new recipe. From that pool, five finalists were selected, including Brown-Miller, a finalist in 2010 with a recipe for cassoulet.
With the win, Brown-Miller is creating a name for herself as a cook who can really capitalize on second chances. In 2011, a year after failing to place in the Gilroy Garlic Festival’s Great Garlic Cook-Off, she returned and won the crown.
Until last week, the $1,000 she won in Gilroy was her largest prize. She began entering cooking contests in 2009 and now considers it her hobby, entering a few each week.
Precisely following the rules in each contest is a must, she said, calling the Manischewitz rules “a huge challenge.” Each recipe in the contest must adhere to kosher guidelines, be prepared in less than an hour and have no more than nine ingredients, including one Manischewitz broth plus one additional product from the company.
Another potential challenge for a kosher cooking contest: Brown-Miller is not Jewish. She said, however, that wasn’t an issue, and that at least one other competitor wasn’t Jewish, either.
“Manischewitz really knows how to throw a contest,” she added. “The people were all so nice and there was a festival atmosphere. It was more like a party than a serious showdown. Even the judges were gracious, not like the stone-faced judges you sometimes get.”
One judge, a culinary instructor at the JCC, told Brown-Miller after the contest that all the judges loved her dish. “She told me I won hands-down, that the judges thought my recipe was fun and creative,” Brown-Miller said.
The five judges chose Brown-Miller’s dish over entries from four others: Naylet LaRochelle of Miami (“Halibut Couscous”); Ronna Sue Farley of Rockville, Md. (“Beef Tenderloin Puffs”); Dina Burcat of New York City (“Latke-Crusted Chicken with Apple Cider, Mushroom and Rosemary Sauce); and Joe Carver of Philadelphia (“Bubby’s Noodle Strudel”).
Brown-Miller’s recipe calls for potato pancake mix for the waffled latkes and matzah ball mix to coat the chicken tenders. She came up with it after eating waffles and fried chicken, prepared Southern-style, at a restaurant in Napa. She liked the dish but thought she could jazz it up. Her winning recipe includes kosher maple syrup mixed with sriracha (chili sauce), which Brown-Miller says “gives it a kick.”
Brown-Miller owns an insurance company with her husband, Kevin, whom she says serves as her cooking “coach.”
“Without him, I never would have won,” Brown-Miller said. “I made the recipe a few times before heading to New York, and his critiques helped me make it better.”
Waffled Latkes with Matzo Fried Chicken and Spicy Syrup
1 lb. kosher chicken tenders
1/2 cup kosher maple syrup
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. sriracha, divided
3 kosher eggs, divided
3 3/4 cups Manischewitz All Natural Chicken Broth
5-oz. package Manischewitz Matzo Ball Mix
6-oz. package Manischewitz Potato Pancake Mix
1 Tbsp. (plus enough for frying) kosher vegetable oil, divided
4 cups mixed greens
salt and pepper
Pour 2 cups of chicken broth into a zip-top bag. Add the chicken and seal. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. While chicken marinates, stir together maple syrup and 1/4 cup of sriracha in a small bowl. Set aside. Whisk 2 eggs with the remaining 2 Tbs. sriracha in a medium bowl. Set aside. Pour matzah mix onto a large plate. Set aside.
Warm waffle iron to high heat. In a medium bowl, whisk remaining egg with remaining 1 3/4 cup of chicken broth. Add potato pancake mix and stir to combine. Stir in 1 Tbs. vegetable oil. Allow to thicken for 5 minutes. Using a quarter of the mixture at a time, cook 4 waffles for 5 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Keep warm on a plate in 150-degree oven.
While waiting for waffles to cook, make the chicken. Pour vegetable oil into a large skillet and bring to medium high heat. Drain chicken from the broth, then add to egg mixture, stirring to coat. One piece at a time, remove chicken from egg and sriracha mixture and dip into the matzah mix, turning and pressing to coat. Add half of the chicken tenders to the oil and cover. Cook for 2 minutes, then turn and cook uncovered for 2 more minutes. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm in the oven while you cook the remaining chicken in the same manner.
Place one waffle on each of four plates. Add equal amounts of the mixed greens and chicken tenders to each, then drizzle with the spicy syrup to taste