Watch Cooking Channel

How to Win a Cookoff

In 2009, Nick Suarez set out to win the Great Hot Dog Cookoff, an annual tradition in Brooklyn, NY. His dog was an all-beef frank topped with bacon, fried corn, cilantro, cotija cheese and hot sauce. After taking the top prize, Nick shared the winning recipe on Grill It with Bobby Flay, then was challenged by Bobby to a Hot Dog Throwdown, which Nick won. Two years later, Nick is back to compete in this weekend’s 6th Annual Hot Dog Cookoff with his newest creation, a riff on the classic chili cheese dog. Nick shares his secrets for winning.

Having competed in various cookoffs and hosted even more, I’ve tried to pinpoint a formula for winning. While preference is a subjective thing — I’ve noticed that audience members tend to vote for more homestyle, comfort dishes, while judging panels tend to prefer dishes with refined, nuanced flavors — I ultimately believe you can win any cookoff with any dish by keeping two things in mind. I always say that winning cookoffs is 50% logistics and 50% flavor balance.

The first question any competitor must ask themselves is, can you logistically pull off your dish within the parameters you’ve been given? Can you keep hot food hot and cold food cold? Is it humanly possible to serve your dish to hundreds of people in a timely manner, while maintaining your sanity? They key to winning is to create and shape your dish according to the competition parameters, instead of picking a recipe first and hoping you can pull it off on competition day.

Make sure your recipe isn't impossible to prepare on competition day.

The second thing to keep in mind is balance of flavor. At most cookoffs, people are only getting one small bite of your dish. Therefore, you must pack as much punch as you can by essentially creating the perfect bite. People can instantly taste if something is not balanced. Does your dish have enough salt? Nobody likes a bland dish. You’d be surprised what a few pinches of salt can do. Keep tasting your food and seasoning until you’ve found the right amount.

Also keep in mind the balancing act of sweetness, bitterness, sourness and acid. Veer too much in one direction, and you throw everything out of whack. Constantly adjust and trust your tongue. If you have to spend days refining your dish and tasting it multiple times to get it right, so be it.

Nick's winning entry -- "Brooklyn's Corniest Dog"

One of the most important aspects of cookoffs — and cooking in general — is the layering of flavors and complexity. If you are competing in a chili cookoff, you could take the easy route and just throw the meat, seasonings and other ingredients into a pot and call it a day. Or you could use basic techniques to heighten the flavor and complexity, like browning the meat to get caramelized flavors, slowly sweating the onions to develop their sweetness, and using homemade stock the give your chili the fullest possible flavor.

When planning a cookoff dish, try to utilize as many techniques as possible to push your culinary boundary. Cookoffs are a great way to experiment and try something you’ve never done before. Just make sure you perfect your recipe in advance, and nail down your cookoff-day plan of attack.

Keep reading for a preview of my hot dog recipe for this weekend’s 6th Annual Hot Dog Cookoff!

Taste Nick’s dog and 22 other competing hot dogs this weekend at the 6th Annual Great Hot Dog Cookoff in Brooklyn, NY. Proceeds benefit Food Bank of New York, a 28-year-old non-profit working to end food poverty throughout the five boroughs. 

More Hot Dogs: 

Learn more about Nick Suarez and his national cookoff series, Food Experiments, at thefoodexperiments.com.

Tags:

Comments (887)

  1. ??????? ????? ??? posted 11/10/2013

    Title…

    [...]one of our visitors not long ago encouraged the following website[...]…

  2. sri lanka holidays posted 11/10/2013

    Title…

    [...]Every when in a though we pick blogs that we read. Listed beneath would be the most up-to-date web-sites that we opt for [...]…

  3. London photography tuition posted 11/11/2013

    Title…

    [...]The info talked about in the write-up are several of the very best obtainable [...]…

  4. Recommended Site posted 11/12/2013

    Title…

    [...]that will be the finish of this article. Here you will obtain some web sites that we think you will value, just click the links over[...]…

  5. joanna perry murals posted 11/12/2013

    Title…

    [...]below you’ll discover the link to some web pages that we consider it is best to visit[...]…

  6. Vicodin posted 11/12/2013

    wedding venue beside…

    wedding venue beside the beach is i think the best and looks very romantic,…

  7. Title…

    [...]The information mentioned in the report are several of the ideal offered [...]…

  8. servicio de catering madrid posted 11/14/2013

    Title…

    [...]very few web-sites that come about to be detailed beneath, from our point of view are undoubtedly very well really worth checking out[...]…

  9. combat knives posted 11/15/2013

    combat knives…

    [...]Sites of interest we have a link to[...]…

  10. debt consolidation posted 11/16/2013

    Title…

    [...]Here is an excellent Blog You may Obtain Fascinating that we Encourage You[...]…

  11. gu10 led posted 11/16/2013

    gu10 led…

    [...]just beneath, are several absolutely not related websites to ours, having said that, they are certainly worth going over[...]…

  12. sex posted 11/16/2013

    kwiaciarnia gdansk…

    Thanks for another great article. The place else may just anyone get that type of information in such an ideal method of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I am at the search for such info….

  13. web designers richmond va posted 11/17/2013

    Title…

    [...]please take a look at the web sites we follow, including this one particular, because it represents our picks from the web[...]…

  14. new jordan releases 2012 posted 11/17/2013

    Glenna Wesely…

    although websites we backlink to below are considerably not associated to ours, we feel they are truly really worth a go by, so have a look…

  15. homepage posted 11/18/2013

    Digg…

    While checking out DIGG today I noticed this…

  16. Jerri Krystal posted 11/19/2013

    Title…

    [...]please visit the internet sites we follow, which includes this one, as it represents our picks in the web[...]…

  17. Dr Oz weight loss pill posted 11/20/2013

    Dr Oz weight loss pill…

    [...]that would be the finish of this post. Here you will discover some web-sites that we think you will value, just click the links over[...]…

  18. fb masterclass reviews posted 11/20/2013

    Title…

    [...]one of our guests recently proposed the following website[...]…

  19. Instant Payday Network sign up posted 11/21/2013

    Title…

    [...]below you will uncover the link to some web pages that we think it is best to visit[...]…

  20. Title…

    [...]Here are some of the web pages we suggest for our visitors[...]…

  21. keyword seo tool posted 11/21/2013

    Title…

    [...]below you will uncover the link to some websites that we believe you ought to visit[...]…

  22. www.rebelmouse.com posted 11/21/2013

    Title…

    [...]here are some links to web-sites that we link to because we think they may be worth visiting[...]…

  23. click posted 11/21/2013

    Title…

    [...]please check out the internet sites we stick to, like this 1, as it represents our picks in the web[...]…

  24. video gamer posted 11/22/2013

    Title…

    [...]below you will discover the link to some web-sites that we feel you need to visit[...]…

  25. Consulta CPF Online posted 11/22/2013

    Title…

    [...]very handful of websites that take place to be in depth below, from our point of view are undoubtedly properly worth checking out[...]…

  26. mac repair leeds posted 11/22/2013

    Title…

    [...]here are some hyperlinks to web-sites that we link to since we believe they’re worth visiting[...]…

  27. free ideas to make money posted 11/24/2013

    Title…

    [...]Sites of interest we have a link to[...]…

  28. Words Of Wisdom posted 11/24/2013

    Title…

    [...]we prefer to honor a lot of other world-wide-web web sites around the internet, even when they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Beneath are some webpages really worth checking out[...]…

  29. rnb posted 11/25/2013

    Title…

    [...]always a significant fan of linking to bloggers that I appreciate but don’t get lots of link enjoy from[...]…

  30. alevel maths tutor posted 11/25/2013

    Title…

    [...]here are some hyperlinks to internet sites that we link to due to the fact we consider they may be really worth visiting[...]…

  31. Title…

    [...]although internet websites we backlink to beneath are considerably not connected to ours, we really feel they may be in fact worth a go as a result of, so have a look[...]…

  32. buy 1kg gold posted 11/25/2013

    Title…

    [...]Sites of interest we have a link to[...]…

  33. wart removal posted 11/25/2013

    Title…

    [...]please check out the internet sites we stick to, like this one particular, as it represents our picks from the web[...]…

  34. her comment is here posted 11/26/2013

    Title…

    [...]here are some links to web-sites that we link to because we assume they may be really worth visiting[...]…

  35. Reagan posted 11/26/2013

    Title…

    [...]Sites of interest we’ve a link to[...]…

  36. visit this site posted 11/26/2013

    Title…

    [...]here are some hyperlinks to web-sites that we link to because we consider they may be worth visiting[...]…

  37. receding hairline posted 11/27/2013

    Title…

    [...]please pay a visit to the web pages we follow, which includes this one particular, because it represents our picks through the web[...]…

  38. ipad video lessons posted 11/28/2013

    ipad video lessons…

    [...]Here are several of the web sites we recommend for our visitors[...]…

  39. Get paid everyday posted 11/28/2013

    Get paid everyday…

    [...]Every when inside a even though we opt for blogs that we study. Listed below are the newest web pages that we choose [...]…

  40. voyance telephone posted 11/29/2013

    Title…

    [...]we like to honor several other net websites around the web, even though they aren’t linked to us, by linking to them. Beneath are some webpages worth checking out[...]…

  41. Nuru Massage City of London posted 11/29/2013

    Nuru Massage City of London…

    [...]here are some links to web pages that we link to for the reason that we think they are worth visiting[...]…

  42. became too hard for anybody to be…

    heard and noticed, even if the information they are sharing are of great value.now to stand out from the crowd, not only should the content of the blog be of importance, the overall look and feel of the site itself should…

  43. Twitter Followers for $1 posted 12/01/2013

    Wonderful story ……

    Here are a few unrelated information, nonetheless seriously worth taking a your time to visit this website…

  44. internet service providers posted 12/01/2013

    Title…

    [...]The information mentioned in the write-up are some of the most beneficial offered [...]…

  45. jasa import barang posted 12/02/2013

    jasa import barang…

  46. Gift for Frandsons First Communion…

    [...]Every when in a whilst we opt for blogs that we study. Listed below would be the most current web-sites that we opt for [...]…

  47. seo chicago posted 12/03/2013

    Title…

    [...]that could be the end of this report. Right here you’ll obtain some websites that we think you’ll appreciate, just click the hyperlinks over[...]…

  48. Supremin kaszel posted 12/03/2013

    Title…

    [...]Here are a few of the web-sites we recommend for our visitors[...]…

  49. jnl fusion preview posted 12/03/2013

    Title…

    [...]Sites of interest we have a link to[...]…

  50. …[Trackback]…

    [...]Great weblog right here! Additionally your website rather a lot up very fast![...]…

Post a New Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

c