The smell of schmaltz was in the air on 18th Street last night when the Sixth Annual Latke Festival unleashed dozens of fried potato delights upon a very eager crowd. The annual event, put on by Great Performances, tasks area restaurants with serving up their finest latke renditions, from the chopped liver-topped to fusion Texas barbecue stylings to traif versions stuffed with pork.

It was a competition, so there had to be winners crowned by both professional and amateur enthusiast latke eaters. Cobble Hill's Shelsky's won the audience's nod with a sweet potato and celeriac latke, fried in schmaltz then topped with a generous scoop of chopped chicken liver and a tart cranberry, horseradish and apple relish. The judges deemed fit to bestow first place to Mae Mae Cafe—their second year in a row with the top prize—for their dainty latke topped with whipped creme fraiche, pickled Katchkie Farm ginger and a cardamom apple bake. But the victor was split with PRINT restaurant, which tied Mae Mae Cafe for judges' choice with a Okinawa Latke: Japanese Sweet Potato, Roasted Chesnuts in Duck Fat, Persimmon, Miso Meyer Creme Fraiche, and Togarashi.

This blogger was heartily impressed with the latke from Jimmy's No. 43, topped with a deliciously salty slice of lox, a dollop of creme fraiche, a scattering of red mustard and a few glistening orbs of salmon roe. Also of note, Veselka's pork goulash latke with prunes and red beans; Mokbar's pork potato pancake with kimchi crema; and Garden Court's daikon and scallion latke topped with chili creme fraiche, pickled pear and a drizzle of black vinegar sauce.