How do you follow a pizza crawl? For many, a salad and a triathlon might be appropriate, but for some Emeril and Martha Stewart Living editors, you follow a pizza crawl with a pizza cook-off. Previous cooking contests include a Chili Cook-Off and a Taco Cook-Off. The events are similar to potlucks, except a theme is assigned in the invite, and guests are invited to compete with the dishes they bring. The competition has gotten quite fierce at these parties, with the contestants putting more and more effort and creativity into their dishes.
The Pizza Cook-Off entries:
Mallory Cruz entered a white clam pizza, inspired by the Vognole pizza served at Otto. Mal’s version included a homemade pizza crust topped with a creamy garlic sauce, mozzarella cheese, roasted garlic, and clams sautéed in white wine, garlic, and olive oil.
Terrance Pitre, a New Orleans native and a web developer for emerils.com and marthastewart.com, prepared a Cajun pizza, which consisted of a spicy tomato sauce atop homemade pizza dough, topped with roasted garlic, fresh mozzarella, and andoillie sausage.
For my pizza, I prepared my favorite dough, Peter Reinhart’s Napoletana Pizza Dough, and covered it with a spicy tomato-and-wild-mushroom sauce and fontina cheese, and finished it with black truffle oil and Parmesan Reggiano cheese.
Timothy Cooper, a writer and Taco Cook-Off winner, called his pizza the Gorgonzilla. It included cremini, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms, mozzarella, Gorgonzola, chopped scallions, black truffle oil, and a not-so-secret ingredient: curry powder.
Naomi Kim, an editor at marthastewart.com, served the Popeye Pizza from Co, a pizzeria in Chelsea near the Emeril and Martha Stewart Living offices in NYC. Naomi’s Popeye’s homemade crust is topped with three types of cheese—Gruyere, pecorino, and fresh mozzarella, plus garlic, fresh spinach, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil once baked.
For her first cook-off, Camille entered a pizza called the Arizona, which was covered with refried beans, spiced ground turkey, cheddar cheese, and sliced onion, then baked. To the hot pizza, she added chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and salsa, and she served the finished pie with a tortilla chip dipped in guacamole.
When the votes were tallied, Mallory and I were tied for first place! Tim’s Gorgonzilla took second place. Each pizza was delicious and so different, making this my favorite cook-off competition thus far. Despite still being stuffed with homemade pizza, we’re of course starting to plan our next competition. What should we cook off next? Lasagna? Chowder? Breakfast foods?