Although Hanukah is celebrated all over the United States, New York always has to go those extra nine yards. On Wednesday at 8 p.m., the "Second Annual Lower East Side Latke Festival" will challenge connoisseurs to discover the finest latke. Entries will be judged on presentation, aroma, relative weight, crunchability and the "return for more factor."

"As Jews, we're constantly searching for new approaches to being Jewish," says codirector Roger Mummert. "And food-crazy New Yorkers are always open to the nouvelle this and new American that. We're the food capital of the world; why not flaunt it?"

The latkes may be entered in three categories: traditional, nouvelle/new American and new wave. Potatoes must be the main ingredient, vegetable oil must be used for the frying and, in keeping with kosher practices that diary products will be served, the latkes must be vegetarian.

The competition will be feisty for the top prizes, the "Silver Spatula" and "Golden Menorah." Past prizes have gone to a vegetable-potato pancake nestled in a bed of red-tipped lettuce and an apple-potato-raspberry latke smothered in cre me frai che and garnished with fresh mint leaves, so the competition is sure to be very Nouvelle York.