Thanksgivukkah Fever Hits the Restaurant World

By Kelly Dobkin  |  October 30, 2013
Credit: Kelly Pretsch

Thanksgivukkah - while it sounds like a made-up holiday invented by Buzzfeed (or The O.C.'s Seth Cohen) - it is apparently a very real pseudo holiday that's happening in just a few weeks. Wikipedia describes it as a "pop-culture portmanteau neologism," created to celebrate the rare overlap of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah this year. The last time that happened was 1888, according to an Associated Press article headlined "Gobble Tov!" (There's even a special menorah for it, behold, the menurkey.) Food brands like Manischewitz are seizing the marketing opportunities and media has been pushing the event as well but more importantly, restaurants are also having a little fun with it. Given the current hybrid craze, it's a chef's dream come true to combine "trendy" Jewish dishes with fall ingredients.

Over in Portland, chef Jenn Louis of Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern is whipping up sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) with apple and cranberry filling and parsnip, celeriac and yam latkes - merging traditional Jewish dishes with American Thanksgiving ingredients. At NYC's Delicatessen, executive chef/partner Michael Ferraro has created something in line with the cronut or ramen burger craze: a ground brisket slider on a sweet potato latke "bun" with roasted apple, black pepper creme fraiche and cranberry chutney. At Chicago's Red Door, a special menu will be offered for $35 per person on November 28 but it will serve the two meals separately, not mashed up. Expect menu items like roast turkey breast with confit leg, brussels sprouts with lamb bacon, pumpkin brioche stuffing with curry gravy and sweet potato-avocado salad with hominy, cilantro and chipotle-buttermilk dressing. Traditional Hanukkah-focused dishes will include: brisket, noodle kugel and latkes.

Special pop-ups and cooking events are also happening along these lines. In Boston, Whisk at 351 will host the second installment of Kitchen Kibitz on November 10, a bimonthly series focused on modern Jewish cuisine. Under partner-chef Josh Lewin (Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro), Kitchen Kibitz will serve up plates that combine traditional Jewish foods with elements inspired by New England's autumn season: pumpkin-seed challah, sunchoke latkes with sugar beet and pumpkin sauce, and pecan pie rugelach with chocolate gelt.