The 6th Annual Great Hot Dog Cookoff - A Doggone good time


photo by Wendy Ploger
We totally rocked it again this year! Despite the sweltering heat and humidity, twenty-one chefs, five fancy judges, more than fifty volunteers and almost six hundred (!) hungry hot dog lovers came out to Kelso Beer Company for the 6th Annual Great Hot Dog Cookoff!

I have to admit, I had my doubts that it was going to work. As a co-organizer for the third year in a row, I was sweating it - literally. The temperature on the forecast for our set-in-stone event date kept rising and the whole week leading up was hotter than heck. There were severe weather alerts advising against prolonged exposure outside. And we were asking our chefs to yes, please come outside and oh, by the way, stand next to a six-foot grill filled with hot coals all day.

We had conference calls. We brainstormed. We bought a sprinkler and crossed our fingers. How would we make our goal for our charity? Would the oppressive heat keep people away? Apparently not, because as the big day approached, the tickets kept selling.  

On the morning of the cook-off, slathered in sunscreen, I arrived on the street in front of the brewery ready to make the best of it. As the volunteers began to arrive, I noticed...a nice breeze! And shade! This isn't going to be so bad, I thought. Now if only everyone shows up...

I'll just cut to the chase and say, Hooray! You did show up! You did drink and eat hot dogs and laugh and dance in the street - and then you ate more hot dogs! You had smiles on your faces all day and you definitely didn't pass out from heat stroke! You ran through our sprinkler! You sampled ice cream and soda and condiments! It was awesome. 

What can I say about the chefs? My amazing chefs! This year the bar was raised. These people put thought and care and creativity into their work and then executed on-site to delicious results. Plus, they showed up! My eternal thanks.

photo by Wendy Ploger

Our expert judges had a lot of tough choices to make, but this group knows hot dogs for sure. We had butchers Sara Bigelow from The Meat Hook and T.J. Burnham from Marlow & Daughters, Rich Crosby of Bark Hot Dogs, Pnina Peled, a chef and Chopped champion, and Scott Gold, food writer and author of The Shameless Carnivore. Trust me, this groups knows a thing or two about hot dogs.

photo by Wendy Ploger

It wouldn't be TGHDCO without our charming and entertaining MC, George Duran, and our amazing DJ - Rabbi Darkside. The two had the crowd laughing and dancing all day.

photo by Wendy Ploger

Of course we couldn't have done it without our amazing group of volunteers and sponsors - both our loyal friends from previous years and our new friends who volunteer with the Food Bank for New York City. Again, props for just being there, and kudos for the hard work. (By the way, that's my mom in the hat. Thanks for coming, mom!)

photo by Wendy Ploger

Please remember to visit our sponsors and try their products - you won't be disappointed. Kelso served up thirst-quenching beers all day, Applegate provided their aptly named Great Organic Hot Dogs, Sodastream and P&H Soda teamed up again to offer sodas and there was ice cream from SoCo Creamery. Folks enjoyed samples from our condiment crew: My Friend's Mustard, Sol Sauce and Rick's Picks. Lovely raffle items and prizes came from: Wustof, Le Creuset, Bulldog Gin, The Brooklyn Kitchen, Illy Coffee, Crif Dogs and Olivino Wines.

Did I mention that we raised $12,000 for the Food Bank? That's right - all the hard work and contributions of the chefs, volunteers, sponsors and organizers go towards our goal of supporting organizations that work locally to combat hunger and provide nutrition education and advocacy for the food impoverished. We weren't sure we'd hit our goal, but we did - more than double from the previous year! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

photo by Wendy Ploger
We come together once a year for the love of hot dogs, beer, music, fun and fundraising, of course, but there's also the element of competition. Our chefs all concocted amazing hot dogs, but at the end of the day, some tough decisions had to be made. So here are this year's ribbon winners, but of course you are all winners in my recipe book!

Judge's Awards:
Blue Ribbon (Best in Show):  You're Going to Need a Bigger Boat - David & Danielle Estorino
Red Ribbon (2nd Place): The Dustin Dog - Tailgate Joe & Sal Caluccio
Yellow Ribbon (3rd Place): The 8 Fat Fat 8 Lucky Dog

Audience Awards:
Blue Ribbon (Top Dog): Southwest Harlem Corn Dog - Adam Nalawajek & Carolyn Gamanos
Red Ribbon (2nd Place): Seoul Thriller - Sung Lee & David Kim
Yellow Ribbon (3rd Place): Zia Dog - Marcos Salazar & Paul Smalera

Here are photos and write-ups to keep you busy for a while. Are there any pics of you? Are you dancing? Running through a sprinkler? Shoving a hot dog in your face? Awesome! Thanks for coming and see you next year!

The Great Hot Dog Cookoff on Facebook
The Great Hot Dog Cookoff Official Photographer - Wendy Ploger
NYT - The Local
Donuts 4 Dinner
The Hot Dog I Ate
Local Bozo
Kelso's Cookoff Video
The Brooklyn Paper
Brooklyn Exposed


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