First off let me say that anyone could have entered this competition but few chose to. Some didn't want to pay the entry fee, some did not (or claimed to) not have employees to spare. Some wanted to enjoy the weekend and not work. And there were other reasons. Last year I actually contacted owners of hot dog restaurants to let them know about this event but no one I spoke with was interested.
Out of the 5 places serving hot dogs only 2 are actually hot dog establishments. The Windmill and Jersey Johnny's. Two others are BBQ joints that overpowered their dogs with spicy sauces, brown sugar, and other ingredients that masked the flavor of the frank, and in my opinion do not belong.
As far as the people's choice, the Windmill has won the last couple of years. But only in part because of the quality of their dog. Most people walking around are not aware that barbecue joints serve hot dogs. Or if they stop by the barbecue stands it is to sample barbecue. Six judges got to sample everything that was entered.
The hamburgers were not really good. I liked the meatball hamburger with cheese and sauce, but that is not what I really consider a burger. More like a Meatball sandwich shaped like a burger on a burger bun. The Windmill was the only offering resembling a true burger. It was dried out and no better than the prepackaged burgers that people get from the supermarket, throw on the grill, and invariably overcook.
It was fun, but there are much better burgers throughout New Jersey. The judges choice (and mine) for best dog was a standout and up there among the best that Jersey has in terms of a beef/pork frank. Precious few use the Thumann's griller and prepare it right. Mamma Marci's did and was the winner with the Windmill coming in 2nd among the judges. Jersey Johnny's made a mistake frying the griller and topping it with slaw, pickles, and pulled pork stuffed inside a monster sized roll. No one could find the dog much less taste it under everything. After the competition I had a classic Texas Weiner from Jersey Johnny's using the dog made for frying and topped with a good chili. Had they served this dog, it would have done well in the competition.
The one Italian dog offered had good pizza bread, but steak fries instead of potatoes sliced thin or in chunks. The dog was grilled instead of fried. Not authentic and not good either. The place serving it usually uses the Thumann's beef/pork griller. An Italian Hot Dog should use a beef frank, preferably Best's. For this competition a spicy sausage was used instead of a hot dog. Totally overwhelming and much too spicy. Places that don't know how to make an Italian Hot Dog with the right ingredients shouldn't bother to make them at all.
Below are my comments taken from my score sheet:
1) Chop Shop BBQ. skinless Sabrett all beef approx 10/lb prepared in a smoker. My 3rd favorite although I really only liked 2 of the dogs. Decent tasting frank, good slaw and bacon, but too much going on. The dog was dr...y and obscured by the toppings. BBQ sauce shouldn't be on a dog. Neither should brown sugar. But the flavor of the dog was less masked than 2 of the others I rated below it.
2) Jersey Johnny's. Thumann's griller (4/lb beef/pork) prepared in a deep fryer. Johnny's actually has an 8/lb dog made for frying that they didn't serve. I had one later (after the showdown) and it would have been in my top 2. The dog we had was a 4/lb natural casing Thumann's griller deep fried. Again a decent dog, but this one should have been grilled. I didn't like the big roll. Was there a dog in there? Balance out of whack; too much bread, too much other things. Pulled pork should have been on the side with the pickles and slaw. Would have been better off serving the deep fryer with their chili sauce.
3) Southern Smoke. skinless Sabrett approx 10/lb prepared on a grill (not griddle). My least favorite of the day. The dog was bland and flavorless. And I took a bite where I got only meat. The creole BBQ sauce was overwhelming and totally masked the flavor of the dog which should get star billing while the toppings should complement rather than compete with the frank.
4) Windmill. Natural casing 4/1 Sabrett beef/pork prepared on a flat top griddle. Good solid German style dog. It took 2nd in my voting and is one of 2 that I would actually buy. Good snap and prepared well.
5) Mamma Marci's regular hot dog. 6/1 Thumann's griller (beef/pork) prepared on a flat top griddle. Excellent hot dog. Hands down the best in the competition and my favorite. Although I didn't like the sauerkraut, it did not overshadow the excellent quality of the frank. My favorite brand of German style beef/pork dog surpassing even most butcher shop/pork store franks.
6) Mamma Marci's Italian Hot Dog. approx 6/1 Sabrett spicy sausage. Although not an authentic Italian Hot Dog, I can overlook the fact that the dog is grilled rather than fried or sauteed if it tastes good. And the fact that fries instead of potato slices or chunks are used. They did use pizza bread. But there should be beef hot dogs in there; not a sausage which was much too spicy. This would be an average Italian Hot Dog that you would get in a place like a pizzeria that doesn't specialize in authentic Italian Hot Dogs if they had used a regular beef dog. Didn't like it.
1) Southern Smoke. Just horrible. Flavorless burger that was gussied up with too much spice. Dry, and pineapple doesn't belong on my burger. I don't like avocado either.
2) Windmill. My favorite out of those sampled. A simple basic cheeseburger that tastes like your typical backyard burger. I can do better at home. Too well done, but passable and better than the others.
3) Mamma Marci's. I liked their meatball burger. Good bun, good meatball that was the only meat served that wasn't dried out. Good mozzarella and marinara sauce. Not what I expect or look for when I order a burger, but it was good for what it was. And prepared better than the rest.
4) Jersey Johnny's. Bland dry burger served with their Texas Weiner chili sauce. The sauce goes good with a hot dog, not a burger.
<message edited by John Fox on Mon, 05/30/11 10:13 AM>