250 people converged upon the Bell House Sunday afternoon to devour meatballs. A lot of meatballs. 50 cooks worked alongside each other to prepare 24 different kinds of meatballs, 7,500 of which were consumed in two hours by the ravenous masses as part of this year's Brooklyn Meatball Takedown.
The diversity of the meatballs, which included banh mi balls, German-influenced balls, breakfast meatballs, traditional Italian meatballs based off old family recipes, and more, reflected the diversity of the competing chefs. Roommates and friends worked together alongside mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, and professional chefs with the singular goal of making and serving meatballs, no matter the variety. Despite the competition, the whole event had a distinctly familial and collaborative vibe, with everyone seeming to enjoy cooking and experimenting together.
Matt Timms, who is now in his second decade of hosting The Takedowns (which he describes as "America's most important food competition"), hosted the event, and reveled in the atmosphere, collecting ballots personally, and inviting all the chefs to the stage for the winner announcement. Andrew Gottlieb and his assistant Denise Porcelli was the top judge's pick for their Vietnamese Pork Banh Mi meatballs. The event's main winner, chosen by the attending public, was Bryan Gittleman, who won for his Spicy Beef & Bacon Teriyaki balls, coincidentally on his birthday.
4th: Detroit Coney Island-Style, Rachel Salerno
3rd: German-Style on Pretzel Bun: Patricia Clark and Sean Carey
2nd: Great Grandma's Classic: Dan, Courtney and Eliza Donaldson
1st: Vietnamese Banh Mi Balls: Andrew Gottlieb and Denise Porcelli
4th: Top of the Morning Breakfast Balls: Rev Ciancio
3rd: Great Balls of Fire: John Biggane
2nd: Banh Mi: Alex Sochinsky and Cristina Reece
1st: Spicy Beef & Bacon Teriyaki: Bryan Gittleman
About the author: Ben Jay is a Serious Eats contributor, photographer, carnivore, beer and whisky drinker, and music nerd. Insert testicle or Ikea horse joke here. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.