The magic that Pierogi Papi makes

All Max Glassman had was a torn, water-stained recipe card. That’s what was left of his Busia Rose’s pierogi recipe.

“It was what to do with the water and the flour, but it wasn’t how much and there were no ingredients,” says Glassman. “It just said warm water, and then it was letting the mixture sit out before you start kneading it a little bit and letting it proof. So I had to go off of that.”

Glassman’s cooked at all levels all over the city since he was 16, starting as a busser at his mom’s Italian restaurant server job. But last year he left an executive chef gig that had him questioning his purpose in the industry. In all that time he’d never really cooked for himself.

“A lot of people heard that I wanted to stop cooking. And everybody was like, ‘Well, maybe you can cook for yourself. You’ll fall back in love.’”

That’s when his dad gave him Busia Rose’s recipe card:

Two things happened after that: He fell back in love working in a kitchen again at the great Moonwalker Cafe in Avondale, and he fell back in love launching a pop-up based on his own twists on Busia Rose’s pierogi recipe.  

You’re gonna fall in love too if you come to Ludlow Liquors this Monday, November 20, when Pierogi Papi headlines Monday Night Foodball, the Reader’s weekly chef pop-up.

With a scrap of the past, Glassman puts his own spin on Busia Rose’s recipe. For one thing, he adds egg to the dough, leading to softer, more supple, pasta-like dumplings. After that he stuffs them according to whim, parboils them, then pan fries, so they take on a light, crispy exterior, like a pot sticker that yields to that familiar, soft seductive pierogi embrace.

Glassman pops up with some regularity at Consignment Lounge, and his home base at Moonwalker. There Arlene Luna and Jack Blue are Foodball vets and so, in fact, is Glassman, since he threw down in the kitchen for Tripping Billy last June.

This Monday he’s bringing his popular potato–cheese “traditional” variety, which he finishes with a garnish of dehydrated, fried sauerkraut, and sour cream on the side. Next there’s a braised beef neck and caramelized onions number: “I’ll take the braising liquid. I’ll reduce it and then I’ll throw it back in and reincorporate it back into the meat, so it gets super freakin’ unctuous and nice.”

He’s also working up a batch of Rose’s potato salad with roasted spuds.

It’s a carbtastic Monday Night Foodball, going down at 5:30 PM at 2959 N. California in lush, utopian Avondale. Meanwhile, marvel at the remaining Foodballs of 2023: