Deep Fried, Bacon-Topped and Drenched in Duck Fat: Scenes From the Great Hot Dog Cookoff


Joey Chestnut didn’t have anything on the attendees of the 7th annual Great Hot Dog Cookoff in Williamsburg on Sunday, who packed the parking lot of the Acumen building in order to bulldoze through an excessive amount of tasty tube steaks (29 different meat-, carb-, and cheese-loaded options in all) and effectively drink sponsor Kelso right out of beer—they had to send for backup halfway through the event).

Of course, unlike that other slightly more celebrated frank-centric competition, overindulging at the Great Hot Dog Cookoff is all for the greater good, with net proceeds from each tasting ticket going directly to the Food Bank for New York City — over $10,000 raised in all.

“That’s really why we’re here…to help bring in money,” said Mile End owner and pro-row contender Noah Bernamoff, who refused to talk smack against his Brooklyn Bangers, Marlow and Daughters, Gramercy Tavern and Meat Hook competitors, despite our prodding. “Winning or losing isn’t a factor to us.”

Good thing — established sausage faves The Meat Hook eventually walked away with the inaugural Best in Show: Restaurant Edition title, wowing the judges with pasture-raised beef and pork dogs in lamb casings, topped with roasted jalapenos, Kewpie mayo and housemade Mexican coleslaw.

The 24 amateur competitors, on the other hand, were definitely in it to win it, good naturedly big-dogging each other with deep fried, duck fat basted, chestnut honey drizzled, bacon-topped, and mac and cheese sided creations.

We especially dug The Dogfather (an Italian beef-inspired dog dipped in gravy and topped with sirloin and giardiniera), as well as the Hot Dogiflette (with reminded us of a pierogi dinner with melted cheese, mashed potatoes, sour cream and herbs, despite its French aspirations) and the refreshingly light and easy to eat Hot Dogpling, the pork dog and shrimp potstickers dished out by the L and Brooklyn Magazine’s very own Cathy Erway. We’re not the least bit biased, we swear!

But the end, our personal opinions and single voting ticket didn’t mean jack, as top honors eventually went to the chili and cheese ball-topped Nick Mangold Over the Line Dog for audience favorite (a bit of a Cinderella story, considering the creators came in second for the last two years running), and the Father and Son for judges pick — which wooed overtaxed palates with bone marrow butter toasted rolls and veal ragu, gremolata, pickled chili, provolone, and funyon-covered wieners.

“I used to be a hamburger guy, but after seeing the infinite variety demonstrated by all of these contestants, I’m now a dedicated hot dog man,” gushed first-time Cookoff attendee Tony Moona after the ballots were read. “Hot dogs will now be, not just a part of my diet, but my very existence. And you’ll definitely see me behind a grill next year.”

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