Coffee-infused barbecue sauce! Crab salad! Mung bean sprouts!
What can you put on a hot dog besides mustard, onions, relish or ketchup to make it utterly tasty?
It's not an overstatement to suggest that the wurst place to be in Philadelphia on Saturday, July 19 was the Shambles at Headhouse Square, where a few dozen chefs, food truckers and amateur cooks threw down at the third annual Dog Day of Summer Cook-Off, sponsored by South Street Headhouse District.
When the smoke cleared, the top dogs were:
Chef Mike Stollenwerk of Headhouse Crab & Oyster Co., who won the pro division with "The Sea Dog," a Sabrett hot dog, spicy pepper relish, crab salad, split top bun, splash of Old Bay. It's on the menu now for $9. (Totally worth it, folks. It's a salty, sweet, spicy creation and not that crab salad is not cheap.)
Chef Nick Mezzina of Misconduct Tavern took second in the pro category with the "Sriracha Pork Dog," topped with sweet Sichuan chili.
Third in the pro category went to event co-organizer Keith Garabedian of Hot Diggity, who served a "Corn Salsa Dog" with fire-roasted corn, 1732 Meats paprika-bacon salsa, poblano cumin creme, radish, crispy tortillas, and cilantro. Garabedian helped to judge the amateur category.
The amateur winner was Lilly Vamberi, who works the counter at the South Philly Federal Donuts. Her "Lilly Philly" was topped with Elixr coffee BBQ sauce, Kenzinger-beer-battered onion strings, and roasted long hot relish. ("I was thinking about Philadelphia and what I like about it," Vamberi said. "Coffee was the instant thing. Good coffee.The relish? Long hots is a Philly thing, and beer-battered and fried anything is my thing,") Hot Diggity will sell this dog during August; price is TBA.
Second place for the amateurs went to Brant Williams, whose "Pho-natic Dog" had pho beef boullon paste, mung bean sprouts, cilantro, Thai basil, thinly sliced jalapenos and lime hoisin.
Third place among amateurs went to Gabriel Raab, who went all Middle Eastern with a "Tova Dog," topped with amba sauce, pickled vegetables and falafel crunch.
The people's choice winner was created by Bistro Romano chefs Ricardo Rodriguez and Anthony Santiti Jr., whose "Scala Duck Ragu" was topped with grilled romaine, shaved parmigiano-reggiano, and pancetta.