Chef Jon Wirtis of Shlomo and Vito’s New York Delicatessen set the world record for the largest matzo ball this weekend, smashing the previous record by nearly 160 pounds.
Wirtis used 125 pounds of matzo meal, 25 pounds of schmaltz (chicken fat), more than 1,000 eggs and 20 pounds of potato starch to create the 426-pound behemoth at this weekend’s Jewish Food Festival. The previous record holder was a 267-pound matzo ball created last year by chef Anthony Sylvestri of Noah's Ark Deli in New York City.
Noam Sokolow, owner of Noah’s Ark Deli, said last week that breaking his record would not be easy. He made 18 practice attempts before coming up with his record-setter, and it took a crew of cooks to pull it off.
“I hope these guys know what they’re up for,” Sokolow said last week.
Wirtis said he made four preliminary attempts over the four months leading up to the festival. The largest of those produced a 200-pound matzo ball, which gave him confidence that a 500-pounder was possible.
Chefs at Desert Diamond Casino and the Hilton El Conquistador Resort helped make the hundreds of gallons of broth needed to cook the matzo ball. The president of CAID Industries managed the crafting of the 1,500-pound kettle, and volunteers from Davis Monthan’s 355th Operations Support Squadron helped fill it.
“Every step ended up being what I was hoping for,” Wirtis said this morning. “I started with a base recipe from my Grandma Goldie, but when I went to blow that up, it was too light. It peeled apart almost like an orange.”
The secret ingredient ended up being potato starch, which bonded the other ingredients together. He covered the matzo ball in heavy cheese cloth to hold it together during the hours of boiling it took to cook it all the way through, and the rest is world-record-setting history.
Wirtis said he’d heard that Sokolow intended to take the record back from anyone who beat his record. For this reason, Wirtis set his aim on a 500-pounder rather than just beating the previous record by a couple of pounds.
“Your record?” said Wirtis, referring to the previous record holder. “Fugghedabout it. Come and get it. I dusted him, man.”