It all began one night over a glass of prosecco, a few travel and food writers talking gnocchi.
I don’t know who’s idea it was first — how about we all get together one night for an gnocchi cooking competition? Everyone can make their own secret recipe at home, and then we gather for a contest, may the best gnocchi take the crown. Somehow we added judges — asking magazine food editors to judge our creations — and the Gnocchi Faceoff was born.
Hosting the evening was the lovely Anna Watson Carl, the writer and cook behind The Yellow Table, where I constantly nick ideas for healthy, simple, delicious recipes. Her Twitter feed alone will inspire you to get in the kitchen without fear and start cooking.
To really make gnocchi night official, Anna invited the very talented photographer, Eric Ryan Anderson, to snap away for the evening and capture the spirit of our little faceoff.
Preparations began long before we all began boiling away in Anna’s Nolita kitchen. Some participants practiced in the weeks beforehand, while I took the route of making gnocchi for breakfast on the day of the competition and tweaking the recipe throughout the day.
This past Sunday, we all climbed five flights of stairs with gnocchi, stock pots, sauce, butter, herbs, and wine in hand. One by one, we took the stove and brought our recipes to life.
There was butternut squash gnocchi with brown butter and sage, kimchi pancetta gnocchi, ricotta gnocchi with spicy sausage ragu (my entry), and a gluten-free sweet potato gnocchi with (more!) brown butter and sage. Every half hour or so another big bowl of gnocchi made its way out to the judges and tasters.
In the end, the judges spoke and the excellent kimchi-pancetta gnocchi from David Farley took the prize. Little did we know, the gnocchi was just an appetizer, and we all sat down to dig in to a meal of roasted pork and a big, fresh salad.
It had been a day of gnocchi from morning until night, but a rewarding one spent with good friends over good food. We’re thinking these cooking competition faceoffs should become a regular thing — the only question is: what genre to tackle next?
Photo Credit: all photos courtesy of the fantastic Eric Ryan Anderson