Photos and GIFs by Liz Barclay (@liz_barclay)

Welcome back to the First We Feast GIF Tutorial series, where we ask restaurant cooks and pro bartenders to show us how step up our technique when cooking and making drinks at home.

Latkes, or fried potato pancakes, are traditionally cooked and eaten on Hanukkah. They are delicious served by themselves, with a side of sour cream and apple sauce, or topped with smoked salmon, crème fraîche, and caviar.

Bill Telepan, the head chef at Telepan on NYC’s Upper West Side, is a latke expert. His thick, crispy latkes won the People’s Choice Award at Brooklyn’s Latke Festival in 2011. “My wife’s Jewish, and so on Christmas we make latkes for breakfast, alongside eggs, bacon, and pancakes,” Telepan says. “We like to have the ‘Jewishness’ thing happening on Christmas. Then we order Chinese food for dinner.”

Telepan, who isn’t Jewish, was first introduced to latkes as a child, when his Hungarian mother made them for dinner. Of course, Mrs. Telepan didn’t call the potato pancakes “latkes,” but they were memorable nonetheless.

The beauty of latkes is that they’re inexpensive to make, and great for dinner, brunch (topped with an egg and smoked salmon), or as a snack. If you’re too lazy to make your own, Telepan will be serving its signature potato latkes from November 28th to December 5th.

Click through the gallery above to see Bill Telepan demonstrate the art of making perfect latkes.


with onion sour cream
Makes 6 latkes


For the latkes:

  • 1 1/2 lbs Idaho potatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying (canola oil is best)

For the onion sour cream:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup minced Vidalia or other sweet onion
  • Salt
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 ½ tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Cooking instructions:

Latkes: Heat a generous amount of vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet or sauté pan set over high heat. Using the large hole of a box grater, grate the potatoes and onions into a mixing bowl. Squeeze the liquid out of the grated potato and onion into a bowl. Save the liquid.

Let the starchy liquid sit for two minutes. Pour off the water from the liquid and save the starch that will have settled to the bottom of the bowl. Beat the eggs, add them to the starch, and combine well. Add the grated potato and onion back into the egg mixture. Add the flour and salt and combine all ingredients.

Scoop the potato mixture into a 1 oz spoon, shape with your hand, then slide into the hot oil. Pan fry the latkes in the oil-filled sauté pan until golden brown and crisp on the outside. Serve with onion sour cream and apple sauce, or just about anything you’d like.

Onion sour cream: Melt the butter in a sauté pan set over low heat. Add onion, sprinkle with salt, cover, and slowly cook until tender but not browned, about 10 minutes. Let cool, then add the sour cream and lemon juice and stir to combine.


Bill Telepan: Latke King