Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dancing Latke-Man, the Golden Latke Trophy

In celebration of Chanukah, which starts in a couple of days, our Temple holds a fun event called LatkeFest.  For the fourth year in a row, I have built the 'golden latke' trophy for the first place winner of this fun event.  Today was LatkeFest, and an assortment of amateur 'latke-chefs' served up their creations and assorted condiments, and attendees voted on which they liked best. 

Below, a young latke chef (his father was a 3-time champion) helps out.  He is modeling an apron designed by a religious school student.  They were made for the religious school cooking team by a parent, using the student's design.  
If you don't know what a latke is, it's basically a fried potato pancake, and is usually served with applesauce and/or sour cream.  Today's cooks offered interesting variations, from a crispy yucca latke (the winner) to gluten free latkes, to an 'apple pie latke' with a caramel sauce.  Toppings ranged from the traditional applesauce to the fun extreme, such as wasabi - my favorite!

A klezmer band entertained, and there was dancing and a fun atmosphere.  

So how does someone go about building a silly golden latke trophy, you might ask?  Here's the process: to make the latkes, I used a 'shredded paper clay'.  I got shredded paper from an office shredder, added a mix of Art Paste (liquid form; it had already been mixed up) and Elmer's Glue-All, and mashed it all together, making it into pancake shapes.
in the oven!
I knew I wanted arms and legs, so I shaped them out of armature wire and jammed them into the biggest mushy paper pancake.  It was very wet, and I was worried  'latkes' would take forever to dry, so I put them in a warm oven and 'cooked' them all afternoon, turning every so often.  By the end of the day, they were totally dry and ready for the next step. 
I bolted the wire feet onto a wood block, glued small latkes on top of the bolts for feet, and then fattened up the legs and arms a little, using newspaper and masking tape.  
Yes, my workspace is an absolute mess!

I built a spatula for his hand, and then covered the arms, legs, and spatula with a layer of papier-mache, finishing with paper toweling to make it form smoothly around the bends.
 Once the structure was dry, I sprayed the latkes with gold, and painted the rest with acrylic paints.  I made the plaque out of foam core, painted the lettering, and glued it on the front.
 I used a small hunk of gold-tone tooling foil to cut out the #1, and I glued it on the side.  (Actually, there's another #1 on on the other side, too.)
For a finishing touch, to make 'Latke Man' look like he was dancing, I cut a little cloth napkin and used my sewing machine to put a star of David on it.  If you've ever been to an Orthodox Jewish wedding, where there's Israeli dancing, you've likely seen a napkin used between the hands when a man and woman dance together. 
So here's the proud winner, with his new trophy!!
 And with his beautiful family. 
Note the klezmer band in the background.  The music was lively and fun. 
Goodbye, Latke Man.  
I hope you are happy dancing in your new home, with your new family!!

Here's the trophies from the past three years.
Happy Chanukah!


  1. Latke Man looks like he is really dancing -- very cool!!!

  2. What a fun time. I felt like I was there.

  3. So, you can't have the from the year before bring back the old trophy and recycle? ha ha is fun to see the different creations you have there!! What exactly is Latke(non-Jewish person here)...and what roll does it play in the Chanukah celebration? I know the lights part...but not the Latke part! :)

    1. A latke is a potato pancake, fried in oil. The connection to the holiday is the oil. The temple had been desecrated by the Greeks, and in cleaning it up, keeping the eternal light burning became the #1 priority. There was only enough oil to keep the eternal light illuminated for one day, but according to the story it lasted 8 days, which was enough time to prepare more oil. Hence, the miracle of of Chanukah. O

    2. I knew the 8days of oil miracle.....didn't know that potato pancakes were latke. YUMMY!!!!!!!!!!!! I like latke!!! :) Is it wrong to put ketchup with them?

    3. Ketchup??? Egads! Applesauce; yes. Sour cream; yes. Ketchup; NO! They are not home fries!