Manhattan has its fair share of cooking competitions, but few embody the quirky spirit of the East Village — and its love of food — quite like Jimmy Carbone’s cassoulet cookoff. After descending down a flight of stairs into Carbone’s basement beer cave Jimmy’s No. 43, guests were treated to a tasting of stew-soaked Toulouse sausage and duck confit.
The competition, now in its sixth year, highlights the French bean stew, and this year’s batch of contestants included a caterer as well as a waiter who came all the way up from Washington D.C. Previous iterations included riffs on the classic — one year included an Italian version — but this year was more about sticking with tradition. Ingredients were posted prominently behind several tables, and the contestants described their techniques step by step to a crowd of eager students.
Some chefs, like caterer Patricia Clark, were returning to the cookoff to improve upon previous year’s mistakes. Others — like Chef Annette Tomei, founder of VinEducation — were bent on demonstrating how many varieties of cassoulet one could make. Tomei contributed four different types of of the dish, including a vegetarian option and one featuring chicken confit and turkey wings. The host even got in on the action: Jimmy’s No. 43 chef David Navarro rolled out a homemade sausage and beans dish topped with crispy pork.
In the end, it was Frenchman and Washington D.C. native Gilbert Clerget who took home the judge’s and people’s choice award with his cassoulet de castelnaudary; not bad, considering this was the first time he participated in the competition.
The winning entrant used D.C. butcher Stachowski for his Toulouse sausage. Here’s a photo recap of what went down on Sunday afternoon. And if you missed out on the weekend of cassoulet, not to worry: Carbone is capping off the festivities with a prix fixe wine and cassoulet dinner tonight. It starts at 7 p.m.
Hit the next page for photos.