Family Fun At Kugelis Cook-Off Fundraiser
Kugelis: it’s Lithuania’s comfort food! A decadent concoction of grated potatoes and crispy bacon baked to perfection and served with sour cream, it really doesn’t get any better than this. Kugelis is the standby favorite of Lithuanian households and if you haven’t tried it, you’ll soon understand why.
Hungry yet? Then join us for a Kugelis Cook-Off and taste kugelis from the best of the Philadelphia region’s Lithuanian-American community! Whether you are a chef competing for cash prizes or an attendee feasting and partaking in the festivities, you’ll be supporting the Lithuanian Music Hall Restoration Project, which preserves Lithuanian arts and culture for future generations!
Guests, you’ll have a chance to sample and savor kugelis baked by every contestant chef. That’s at least 12 slices of fantabulous kugelis! As you contemplate who will win the People’s Choice awards, you’ll experience nuances in flavor and texture among competing family recipes. Plus, you’ll have a chance to meet the chefs and hear their stories before casting your votes for “Best Kugelis,” “Best Table Display,” and “Best to Absorb Lithuanian Beer.” This event is fun for all ages, so bring your entire family!
Contestant chefs, by competing in our Kugelis Cook-Off, you’ll have a chance to win one of three cash prizes and a People’s Choice award! Plus, you’ll be interacting with our celebrity chefs and the area’s most avid kugelis fans as you present your best homemade kugelis. Cash prizes are $200 for first place, $100 for second place, and $50 for third place. We’ll provide you with a table and a chaffing rack. It’s up to you to decorate your table and serve your kugelis to the judges and attendees.
Winners of the 2014 Kugelis Cook-Off:
1st Place: Jurate Krokys Stirbys
2nd Place: Virgus Volertas
3rd Place: Kristina Rociunas Volertas
People’s Choice “Best Kugelis”: Rev. Peter Burkauskas
People’s Choice “Best Table Display”: Joyce and Kestutis Lukas
People’s Choice “Best to Absorb Lithuanian Beer”: Rev. Peter Burkauskas
We are grateful to everyone who participated in 2014’s Kugelis Cook-Off on May 3rd! Our 12 enthusiastic chef contestants were Jurgita Arteoggi, Rev. Peter Burkauskas, Andrius and Vytas Duncia, Joyce and Kestutis Lukas, Dan McIntyre, Angele Puodziunas , Violeta Sadauskiene, Jurate Krokys Stirbys, Dana Surdeniene, Terese Vekteris, Virgus Volertas, and Kristina Rociunas Volertas.
Judges were renowned Chef Georges Perrier, award-winning writer Don “Joe Sixpack” Russell, and Honorary Consul Krista Butvydas Bard.
We asked our 1st place winner, what she enjoyed most about the event and for Jurate Krokys Stirbys, the fun started well before the Cook-Off. Initially, Jurate joined the competition out of a sense of duty to her community. However, that feeling of duty quickly faded as the pursuit became a personal challenge. Kugelis wasn’t a big tradition in Jurate’s childhood. Since she hadn’t grown up watching her mother prepare kugelis, she didn’t have a favorite heirloom family recipe. Instead, she challenged herself to create her own. Winning was not on her bucket list, but she also never dreamed of receiving a 1st prize from Georges Perrier! Now that is a bucket list.
Throughout the week leading up to the Cook-Off, Jurate experimented with her method and ingredients; baking several iterations of kugelis. As she and her family tasted each version, Jurate kept thinking she could do better and kept tweaking. After a high-calorie week of taste testing at the Stirbys residence, Jurate finally arrived at what she believed was her best entry. While so much about the Kugelis Cook-Off itself was special to Jurate – including the thrill of renowned Chef Georges Perrier tasting and evaluating her kugelis — the personal challenge was best of all! Thanks to Jurate for sharing her winning kugelis recipe with us.
When questioned about his favorite part of the competition, our 2nd place winner, Virgus Volertas responded that he enjoyed the “enthusiasm and excitement this event generated amongst participants and event attendees. The competitors exhibited camaraderie, but hidden below this was a competitive spirit of ‘making Philly’s best kugelis,’ especially when being judged by admired and world renowned chef Georges Perrier, and the notable Don Russell, a.k.a. ‘Joe Sixpack’.”
Two-time People’s Choice winner, Rev. Peter Burkauskas shared his experience: “I was thrilled to be a participant in the ‘Kugelis Cook-Off’ and to share my recipe with so many people! It was an emotional experience to think how honored my grandmother from Zemaitija would be to know that the recipe she had brought from the ‘old country’ and made in her small kitchen in Connecticut was now being made by her grandson and enjoyed by dozens of people in Philadelphia. She would be proud to know that her recipe won First Prize as ‘People’s Choice’ and that her grandson has kept her memory and Lithuanian heritage alive in such a wonderful and tasty way!”
Special thanks to Lietuvėlė.com for their generous raffle prize donation of an authentic Lithuanian potato grater!
Planning is underway for 2015’s Kugelis Cook-Off. The field is open and yours to win! Are you entering?