Selling Sizzling Latkes with Love
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Selling Sizzling Latkes with Love

Out of her Morningside home, Karen Tenenbaum is grating, frying, freezing, and selling dozens upon dozens of one of Chanukah’s most irresistible side dishes.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

Karen specifies starting with Russett potatoes for a crispy exterior and soft inside.
Karen specifies starting with Russett potatoes for a crispy exterior and soft inside.

Karen Lulka Tenenbaum grew up in an Ashkenazi family in Mexico City as one of three daughters. After attending Jewish Day school, she did a gap year in Israel working at Kibbutz Maale Hahamish near Jerusalem and traversing the hills, deserts, countryside, and cities.

Tenenbaum met her husband, Jay, on JDate, and they were married in the summer of 2005 in Mexico City. She exclaimed, “It was so joyous, and we were even featured in the AJT Simcha section that year!”

But did Jay already know you could make a yummy fried latke? Now selling matzoh balls and latkes out of her Morningside home, Tenenbaum gives tips and directions on how to get her golden latticed “coins.”

Karen’s latkes are known to be just the right combo of salt, sweet, chewy, and crusty.

She said, “My customers say what makes my latkes different is that they really are right on point: not too chewy, not too crusty, not too salty, and not too sweet.”

But how does one grate all those ‘taters’?

Tenenbaum began cooking in earnest in 2008. Upon moving to the U.S., she became a Food Network fan and watched every episode of “Chopped,” “Beat Bobby Flay,” “Iron Chef,” and various favorite chefs.

She stated, “This took my love of cooking to a new level, and I began adapting recipes from various sources. My family likens me to a Cordon Bleu graduate! Once I came to Atlanta, my husband’s aunt, Fay Tenenbaum, ‘The Cake Lady,’ made the most amazing latkes that we enjoyed every year at the big Tenenbaum family Chanukah party.”

Tenenbaum labels the cooking process as labor intensive.

Thus, Karen set out to make her own secret recipe: combining/borrowing ideas from family members and favorites like Ina Garten.

Latkes and matzoh ball preparation have long been in her family. Back in Mexico, she made them with her mother, where instead of apple sauce, they sprinkled sugar on top which now their kids, Alex, and Mia, 15, replicate.

“Latkes are not just for holidays, but also for whenever the craving hits,” they said.

After bringing her latkes to several parties over the years, many of her friends thought they were “to die for” and suggested that she sell them online each year. Tenenbaum agreed, “So I decided, why not? I’m a stay-at-home mom and I love to cook!”

Karen Tenenbaum brought many of her family’s recipes from Mexico City to the U.S. to combine with her Food Network inspirations.

Her matzoh balls got the same reaction and she started selling them in 2022.

As far as marketing her new specialties, “That first year, we posted on Facebook and asking for orders – we sold maybe 10 dozen. The next year, almost all my customers reordered, and another 10 people ordered.”

In terms of the cooking process, Tenenbaum states that it’s extremely labor intensive, as she peels, mixes and mixes, then fries and fries for hours.

She said, “Luckily, my kids help, and I have acquired all the right cooking essentials to handle these orders. I start about four weeks before Chanukah, and each day I’ll make five or six dozen which I freeze. I found out that after freezing, they come out amazing, just like fresh. The week of Chanukah is frantic. We make batch after batch, we keep the doors and windows open to dissipate the delicious smell, and yes, it gets a little crazy.”

Priced at $25 per dozen, the latkes are packaged with heating instructions as they come frozen. Customers can come to Morningside to pick up or arrange a convenient spot.

Tenenbaum enjoys that part. “I love meeting all my customers! People have asked if latkes are available year-round, but I have not taken that big step yet. I think I might for my 5-year customers, so many have become new friends. I do sell my matzoh balls at Pesach!”

Husband, Jay, still posts on Facebook to his 2,500 friends. To order, visit www.fs4.formsite.com/pF8SZ3/zsougqwu93/index

Tenenbaum’s Helpful Tips

  • Use Russet potatoes because they add to softness inside and crunchiness outside.
  • Use canola oil and get it hot but not “crazy” hot. Then drain the mixture well so there is barely any water dripping.
  • Fry for approximately 5 or 6 minutes each side but rely mainly on the eye to watch for just the right color before removing.
  • Lay on paper towels for at least an hour before wrapping and freezing.
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