The Risotto Challenge

Behold: the work of two stir-crazy minds joined in the common goal of furthering research in the home-cooked field of arboriology–


Free to enter, free to attend and to eat all the risotto in the competition, this cooking competition is hosted by myself and the fabulous new pool shark-without-a-cause catering website, See below for entry details and official rules — I hope many of you can come help stir up the fun (sorry, last stirring pun).

The venerable judges for the challenge are:

Georgia Freedman, Associate Editor of Saveur
Jenni Ferrari-Adler, Editor of the acclaimed book, Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone
Adam Kuban, Managing Editor of Serious Eats, and founder/editor of Slice and A Hamburger Today

Many thanks to the local businesses contributing prizes: The Brooklyn Kitchen, Urban Rustic Cafe & Market, Stinky Bklyn, McClure’s Pickles, Thirst Wine Merchants and our venue, Loki Lounge.

How to Enter
Please RSVP to [email protected] by March 23rd. Please write in the subject title: “RSVP Risotto Challenge,” and be sure to include your full name (or names if you’re entering as a pair). You should get a confirmation email the next week or so and another check-in email shortly before the event to make sure you are still coming. As space is limited, there is a possibility we will not be able to include everyone on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please let us know at your earliest convenience if you are no longer able to make it.

On April 2, arrive no later than 8:00pm at Loki Lounge with your risotto, preferably already warm or in a crock pot or heavy covered casserole. Please also bring a serving spoon. There will be heated trays where you can place your covered containers.

The Nitty Gritty
According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, risotto is “rice cooked usually in meat or seafood stock and seasoned (as with Parmesan cheese or saffron).” But, you can use whatever stock or liquids you like to cook your risotto. Contrary to popular belief, Arborio is only one variety of high-starch rice that can be used to make risotto. How you decide to season or stud your risotto is all fair playing ground from here, with three exceptions:

  • No cookbook, magazine or any previously published (unless it’s your own) recipes allowed! Remember how tough your second grade teacher was on plagiarism? We know our stuff. We can sniff you out.
  • No peanut oil, peanut butter or peanuts in your dishes, please! One of the judges is allergic, so these ingredients are strictly off-limits. (Other nuts are OK.)
  • For the purpose of fairness, please don’t bring in risotto flapjacks, risotto tamales, deep-fried risotto balls, or any type of food that strays from risotto’s original form of a creamy-textured rice dish (and please only use rice — not orzo, not barley, etc.). That said, please do wow us with your originality with ingredients. Several surprise category awards will be handed out in addition to the first, second and third places, so if you know how to make a great risotto with prunes, pistachios and Prosecco, go ahead!

Risottos will be judged on taste, originality, appearance, texture and whatever else the judges deem important. Please bear in mind that your dish will be open for the public to sample. Come up with a name for your risotto, and be ready to share a little about it at the contest. Finally, if your risotto wins, please be willing to share your recipe for possible online publication. Good luck!

15 Responses

  1. esch

    One of the prizes should be a date with Cathy. Including a home-cooked meal, of course.

  2. Sarah

    How much risotto do you think one should bring to this challenge?

  3. Sarah

    How much risotto do you think one should bring to this challenge?

  4. cathy

    Good question, Sarah. (Whoops!) Please plan to bring at least 4 quarts. That should fit in a covered casserole pot on the slightly smaller side… speaking of which (hint! hint!), a very lovely, prize-worthy variety may belong to someone by the end of the contest.
    Esch: Maybe that will appeal to a wider audience than a date?

  5. Thew

    My worry/quibble is the heating issue. I’ve always let my risotto sit for a little bit before serving, but no more than ten minutes, say. I strongly urge the tasters to dig right in at 8 sharp.

  6. Michelle @ Us vs. Food

    oh man, i’m too late! my risotto kicks ass!

  7. Yvo

    But why, oh why, do all the food bloggers but myself and AvenueFood live in BROOKLYN =P

  8. Yvo

    I just realized I can’t do this anyway! If I cooked it and hightailed it down to Brooklyn, it’d be cold and gross by the time I got there… bah.

  9. […] Me like free: I just got a package of Tetley new flavored green teas.  I can’t wait to try the blueberry. Rah Rah for Risotto: Food Blogger Not Eating Out In New York is hosting a Risotto Cook-Off on April 2. […]

  10. Will

    I really enjoy blogs like this, since I am a blog addict I will visit again soon.

  11. […] in. It comes to me by way of a prize that I’m pleased to offer to a winner of the upcoming Risotto Challenge and Just Food benefit: a cookware set from the eco-friendly Danish manufacturer […]

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