Meatballs, meatballs, meatballs...
A wide variety of meatballs were available. These nine were my first round.
"America's Most Important Food Competition"
50 chefs descended upon the Bell House to serve 24 different kinds of meatballs, ranging wildly in style from traditional to outright wacky. Overall, 7,500 meatballs were consumed in the space of two hours.
Banh Mi meatballs
Under construction, by Cristina Reece and Alex Sochinsky. Served with Vietnamese vegetables and Sriracha.
Alfredo Mercuri and Liz Layton's meatballs, "The Giovanna," were made with veal, pork, parmesan, garlic, and tomato, and were sautéed in olive oil. The recipe was developed by Mercuri's Calabrian grandmother, and bears her namesake.
Reformed Jew and Fried Meatballs
Noah Shaul (right) served the "Reformed Jew," which consisted of two parts beef and one part pork. Based off his aunt's recipe, Shaul described a multi-step process, which includes frying the meatballs, making the sauce from scratch, and slow cooking the balls in the sauce for six hours. This is all done over the course of an entire weekend with his roommate Paco.
Bryan's probably excited about his Spicy Beef & Bacon Teriyaki meatballs.
Spicy Beef & Bacon Teriyaki
Definitely one of the best Asian-influenced meatballs. They're savory, a little bit sweet, and are served with apple ginger cole slaw, egg noodles, and spicy mayo.
Turkey meatball with cornbread sausage, cornbread stuffing, bacon gravy, and cranberry sauce.
Cloudy With A Chance Of...Turducken
Adrian Ashby's turducken meatballs came with a sweet berry glaze, and were definitely a highlight, despite the lack of love from the judges. Eryn Stutts' chorizo meatballs were flavorful, and were, surprisingly, the day's only Aqua Teen Hunger Force reference.
Detroit Style Coney Island Chili Cheese
Rachel Salerno's chili cheese meatballs succeeded in being tasty without bringing excessive heat. A creative, but not gimmicky concept, executed well.
Meatloaf meatballs, complete with mashed potatoes and ketchup. Dinner in one bite.
Courtney Selby's Greek meatballs were another unique, but familiar concept. The tzatziki was an especially nice touch.
Meticulously preparing miniature banh mi.
Banh Mi Meatballs
Andrew Gottlieb assembled each Banh Mi meatball individually, and that care was definitely reflected in the final product. The pork came from The Meat Hook, and benefited from the addition of char siu, as well as lemongrass shrimp infused Vietnamese mayo, homemade vegetables, Thai chili, and cilantro.
Carly & Mindy Hirsch
Mother-daughter duo Carly (left) and Mindy Hirsch came bearing a recipe originally belonging to Mindy's mother.
Grandma's Drunken Meatballs
This family meatball tastes as traditional as its recipe, with a heavy emphasis on tomato sauce. But the balls get their "drunken" status from the addition of Yuengling to the recipe.
Patricia Clark & Sean Carey
Cousins Patricia and Sean put together an elaborate German-influenced meatball concept.
This meatball is made with pork and veal, and was designed to taste like bratwurst. The pretzel bun is homemade, with lye added for color. Clark originally tried to source the lye for the pretzel from chemistry professor friends at NYU and Columbia, but eventually found some in Chinatown. Mustard and sauerkraut were also available.
Great Balls of Fire
John Biggane's "Great Balls of Fire" had an interesting balance of sweetness and spice. The batch included a whole bottle of Four Roses bourbon, spicy brown mustard, apricot jam, and some jalapeño and Sriracha.
Omar Tungekar's turducken meatball was, as the name suggests, massive. He described the giant size as a "southern thing: go big or go home." Despite the mix of meats, "Mother Turducker" was actually a bit spicy and even tasted a bit lean.
Pickle & Link Spicy Duck
Willy Steigman's duck meatballs were actually quite nicely sweet, thanks in no small part to the sweet plum sauce. They also came with pickled pineapple and fresh shiso.
Matt Timms made the rounds with the ballot box personally, collecting each vote for best meatball.
Before the winners were announced, Timms invited all the participants to the stage to introduce themselves.
Matt Timms and George Motz
George Motz (left) of the Travel Channel and the Food Film Festival was the sole official judge.
Dan & Eliza Donaldson
Dan Donaldson celebrates 2nd judge's prize for his and wife Courtney's (not pictured) "Great Grandma's Classic" with daughter Eliza.
Bryan Gittleman: Winner
Matt Timms declares Bryan Gittleman winner of the people's choice ballot.
Andrew Gottlieb and Bryan Gittleman celebrate winning the judge's and people's choice prizes, respectively, with Timms. In addition to pride, fame, and bragging rights, they also won cookware from Microplane, Analon, and Wüsthof.