Contest Winners

Winner of Your Best Potato Pancakes

December  8, 2010

Congratulations to Sagegreen, whose Variegated Spiced Latkes won this week's contest for Your Best Potato Pancakes! -- earning her a $200 gift card from Williams-Sonoma, plus big prizes from Viking and OXO, and a spot in the next food52 cookbook!


  • Belarus  Variegated Spiced Latkes
  • Sagegreen foraging for mushrooms in Belarus; her winning potato latkes

Q&A with Sagegreen

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Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
When I was young my Hungarian grandmother would visit for a few weeks at a time usually once a year. During that visit, she would rarely stop cooking for an instant, making everything from scratch. Not only was I was completely mesmerized watching my exotic grandmother cook, all the food she made delightfully inspired me: from her blintzes, dumplings, soups, and pasta to her apricot-filled cookies. By fourth grade I took over making supper for my family, much to the delight of my mother. That became a quite an empowering experience, too. By senior year in high school, when I won the Betty Crocker Homemaker of the Year Award, I was really proud! The other awards I received were just not as significant to me. (When I went to college the next year, I was naively surprised to find you could not major in “home ec” at Brown!) Cooking has really taught me how to be both resourceful and creative.

On a personal sidenote, just being a finalist for a second time in this contest is quite thrilling (….and I can write that with a list of accolades from Fulbright scholar to keynote speaker at a United Nations-sponsored agri-tourism workshop in Belarus funded by the U.S. Embassy)!  

What's your least favorite food?
Pickled herring. Having grown up oceanside, I prefer my seafood fresh.

What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
Actually, friends on this site! Seriously.

  • Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
  • When I was nine, I entered a summer cooking contest in Bristol, RI at the town common with my prize-looking peach shortcake. I could not have been more proud of my cake!  I had made the whole thing myself while alone in the kitchen with no help from anyone.  One judge enthusiastically took a first bite, only to grimace with a violently scrunched-up face of disapproval that I will never forget. I was mortified to learn that I had used salt in the recipe in place of caster sugar. I have not entered any cooking contests since then until this summer with Food52.

What is your idea of comfort food?

Apron or no apron?
No time for aprons these days. Before, because I was always afraid to ruin the ones I had in my precious collection, I never wore one. Today I do not even own one.

What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
From recent movies it has to be from Julia and Julie, where Paul asks “What is it that you really like to do?” and Julia answers, “Eat.”

But the wedding cake scene in Like Water for Chocolate is pretty memorable, too. And I can’t forget about Mostly Martha.

If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
Jimmy Fallon…. I just love his thank you notes.

You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood
I can also make a pretty happy sous chef, but otherwise I prefer to cook on my own.

When it comes to tidying up, you usually: a. clean as you cook, b. do all the dishes once you've finished cooking, c. leave the kitchen a shambles for your spouse/roommate/kids to clean.
I am completely capable of all of the above!

  • Beach
  • Sagegreen on the beach


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • TiggyBee
  • NWB
  • Midge
  • Waverly
  • nannydeb
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


TiggyBee December 9, 2010
I'm not Hungarian but from the look of your recipes, sometimes I wish I were!!! Yay Sagegreen!!
Sagegreen December 9, 2010
Thanks, TiggyBee. Gosh, whatever your background it, you sure do have some pretty incredible recipes yourself!!!
NWB December 9, 2010
Congratulations on your win! Can't wait to try these!
Sagegreen December 9, 2010
Thanks, NWB. Although you have that impressive paella win, I was drawn to learn all about dressed beer from you!
Midge December 9, 2010
Great to read more about you! Love the photos too.
Sagegreen December 9, 2010
Thanks, Midge. It was so much fun to find out more about your professional food writing background, too!
Waverly December 9, 2010
Congratulations, Sagegreen. Your recipe sounds fantastic!
Sagegreen December 9, 2010
Thanks, Waverly. If you are in aargersi's circle, I would look forward to meeting you later this year. I loved your cherries jubilee!
nannydeb December 9, 2010
Congratulations again! I'm so glad to read more about you! You are truly an inspiration!
Sagegreen December 9, 2010
Thanks, is really fun to be in the spotlight for a bit, but this site moves at a good clip, so everyone seems to get their time! So much inspiration comes from this amazing group of folks in our community.
luvcookbooks December 9, 2010
so happy for you ... also it was fun to read your q and a and find out more about you. still hoping to see your art installation.
Sagegreen December 9, 2010
Thanks! The show in Chelsea just came down and my show in Queens has its days numbered now, but my installation in Turners Falls is more permanent if you ever get there:
monkeymom December 9, 2010
Congrats Sagegreen!
Sagegreen December 9, 2010
Thanks, monkeymom.Your red roasted Asian stew is on my must try list btw.
gingerroot December 9, 2010
Cheers to you, Sagegreen!! I joined food52 around the same time as you, and remember being immediately impressed by your creativity, enthusiasm and wealth of food and cooking knowledge. Thank you for providing a window into you and your life through your wonderful recipes, headnotes and lovely Q & A above.
Sagegreen December 9, 2010
Thanks, gingerroot. It really has been so wonderful to get to know folks in this community. It was fun to answer the questions for the editors, too!
gingerroot December 9, 2010
Looking forward to all your recipes to come!
Kitchen B. December 9, 2010
Congrats again Sagegreen - fantastic to get to know you a little bit more. Well done
Sagegreen December 9, 2010
Thanks, Kitchen Butterfly. It is mutual! I remember when you won recently, too.
Kayb December 8, 2010
WTG, Sagegreen. Well-deserved. I love your recipes; I know when I see your name they're worth reading, and many of them are on my to-try list!
Sagegreen December 8, 2010
Thanks, Kayb. I notice your recipes, too!
edamame2003 December 8, 2010
congrats sagegreen! i love your recipe--but even more your comment about the friends on food 52! i hope we'll get to know each other through food and food 52 for a long time.
Sagegreen December 8, 2010
Thanks, edamame2003. Long live our food52 community!
TheWimpyVegetarian December 8, 2010
Amen, sister!
Bevi December 8, 2010
You put so much love into your recipes. Your energy is boundless. Congrats on a very deserving win.
Sagegreen December 8, 2010
Thanks, Bevi, for all your support. You have such a rich history of food in your life that was fun to read in your profile!
aargersi December 8, 2010
Hurrah Sagegreen !! All of your friends out here in Food52 land are so happy you decided to overcome the salt incident and start entering again ... I have learned a ton from both your recipes and headnotes. Keep cooking and sharing!!!
Sagegreen December 8, 2010
Thanks, aargersi! You know I really will be visiting to do some cooking!
drbabs December 8, 2010
I am so happy for you. As for "friends on this site" being the best thing you've made this year, the feeling is quite mutual. I love reading about your life and your recipes and I always learn from you. It is so nice to get to know you better. (Fulbright scholar?! Seriously? Impressive!) I am so happy you decided to participate in Food52. (How did that happen, anyway?)
Sagegreen December 8, 2010
Barbara, thank you so much. You know now I even forget how I first happened upon this site....I think I was just hunting around for family jokes that I am 'Halfbright, ' but one of my sabbaticals was in Berlin on a Fulbright...right after the wall came down, too! It was to study design competitions adjacent to the wall between 1980-1990...with a focus on many holocaust memorials.
TasteFood December 8, 2010
Congratulations, Sagegreen!
Sagegreen December 8, 2010
Thank you TasteFood. From someone who has studied at the Le Cordon Bleu, I am honored by your congratulations!
lastnightsdinner December 8, 2010
Congratulations! Both recipes sounded great, but I absolutely love the variety of vegetables in your latkes (and that they seem very doable for a latke-making novice like myself) :)
Sagegreen December 8, 2010
Thanks, lastnightsdinner. I love following all of your recipes, as well as those from your spouse! Novice? LOL
JoanG December 8, 2010
Congrats Sagegreen! You are so desrving. And love the photo of you at the beach!
Sagegreen December 8, 2010
Thanks, JoanG. That was actually taken on the west coast by a dear friend for whom I first made latkes.
TheWimpyVegetarian December 8, 2010
Congratulations, Sagegreen! I'm so happy for you. You have many friends here, and I love seeing what you're up to in the kitchen each week. But I especially love your headnotes which always provide such a beautiful introductions to your recipes. Many congrats - I'm sure there will be many wins for you here in the future too!
Sagegreen December 8, 2010
Thank you ChezSuzanne. I have so enjoyed reading about your background. Maybe I will make my way into one of your classes out in CA someday!
dymnyno December 8, 2010
Congratulations! I always look forward to your recipe contributions. (I am making your latkes for dinner tonight). I remember when you started sure got everyones attention with your many cherry recipes did you post, anyway!
Sagegreen December 8, 2010
Thanks, dymnyo. I love your recipes and all your comments. I will be making one of your ice cream recipes in the near future. Yes, I did get a bit carried away with those cherries!
lapadia December 8, 2010
Congrats again, Sagegreen, loved reading your Q&A and glad you are here on Food52!
Sagegreen December 8, 2010
Lapadia, I have so enjoyed reading all about your successes, especially with PBS!