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Hummus Competition to Crown City's Best Chickpea Chefs

The hummus from Moustache, which has locations in the East and West Villages and East Harlem.
The hummus from Moustache, which has locations in the East and West Villages and East Harlem.
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Openhouse Gallery/Greg Spielberg

By Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo News Editor

NOLITA — Got pita?

A hummus-making competition this Sunday will pit the city's best chickpea mashers against each other to crown a master of the Middle Eastern staple.

"The Middle Feast" is the latest food fight to take place at Openhouse Gallery, a pop-up space on Mulberry Street that previously hosted a grilled cheese-making contest.

Hummus will take center stage this time around, as chefs from six city eateries will vie for the title.

"I've been to a lot of countries, and in New York you have a lot of places that offer hummus," said competitor Shimon Maman, co-owner of SoHo restaurant 12 Chairs.

Maman's recipe calls for soaking Bulgarian-grown chickpeas in mineral water for a full day and then boiling them for six hours, before adding in tahini and other secret ingredients to perfect the final mix.

"It takes a long time to make hummus," said Maman, who preached patience during the preparation process and scoffed at those who make it in anything less than two days.

"You need to do it slowly and step by step. You don't have a shortcut."

Other participants include SoHo's Ba'al Café, Union Square's Pita Joe, Manhattan chain Moustache, Lebanese street vendor Toum, and Brooklyn-based Le Sajj.

The hummus will come paired with the chefs' homemade pita bread, as well as wines from Le Poisson, North African-inspired juice from Bella Lula and baklava from Zalatimo's Old City Bakery.

Taste-testers will then vote on a favorite, whose recipe will be featured in the next edition of Edible Manhattan.

Maman, whose spread has scored the people's choice award two years running in another contest, is confident his formula will best the rest of the field.

"I grew up making hummus," said the Israeli native. "Hummus for us is like pasta for Italians. We bring love to the hummus."

"The Middle Feast" runs from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Sun., June 12, at Openhouse Gallery, 201 Mulberry St. Tickets are available for $20 online at giltcity.com until Saturday at 10 a.m., or can be purchased at the door or by emailing greg@openhousegallery.org.