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The Hanukkah Table

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The Hanukkah Table

Light Up the First Night With a Menu by Michael Shemtov

For many practicing Jews, Hanukkah isn’t among the most important of religious holidays— others like Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah are far more poignant. “Hanukkah gained all this esteem in the Western world because it happens right in the face of Christmas,” says Michael Shemtov, chef-owner behind Butcher & Bee in Charleston and Nashville. But the holiday still has its beloved traditions. Perhaps best of all, there’s the cooking of a big communal meal on the first night of the holiday’s eight days. Shemtov says there are two key narratives that inspire Hanukkah foods: the first of a woman, Yehudit, who vanquished an enemy simply by getting their leader drunk on cheese, rolls, and wine (then killing him), and the second concerning a miracle that occurred during the Maccabean Revolt when a one-day supply of sacred oil lit a menorah for eight days. “Because of these two stories,” Shemtov says, “we eat cheese and foods fried in oil for Hanukkah.” Shemtov, along with friend and restaurateur Jonathan Ory, have created a menu that will bless your table. “Who doesn’t love a holiday where it’s a blessing to eat fried food and cheese?” Shemtov asks. “Almost makes you want to convert.”

Braised Brisket With Root Vegetables

Zucchini and Leek Latkes

Doughnuts With Vanilla Glaze