The Third Annual Cassoulet War was held in New York City last week. Over 200 people attended and 21 chefs battled for cassoulet supremacy. All the eating and competing were for a cause: ticket proceeds benefited Action Against Hunger.
There were cassoulets of all kinds – Moroccan, lamb-filled, baked into a crust and served cold, cassoulets made with rabbit meat, and others heavy on the pork, even a cassoulet with a Boston accent, inspired by franks and beans.
The first time I had cassoulet was 15 years ago at La Régalade in Paris, when Yves Camdeborde was the chef there…it changed my perception of what beans could be. And I’ve had cassoulet on my menu ever since.
– Chef Doug Psaltis
Eater was there covering the event and posted this video on Facebook. The Food Network also reported from the front lines of the Cassoulet War.
A group of formidable judges (click here for their names) gathered to taste every cassoulet and consider them in two categories: the Best Traditional and the Best Creative Cassoulet. The third award went to the people’s choice.
It’s more about understanding the dish than just following the recipe. There is no such thing as a very classic cassoulet; everyone could say he has the classic cassoulet, in Castelnaudry and Toulouse they fight over it, over who has the truth.
– Chef Hugue Dufour
The cassoulet warriors had to present their cassoulet to the judge’s table and explain the recipe. To give you a sense of what it’s like when a chef faces the judge’s table, here’s a short video of Chef Shane McBride of Augustine presenting his Cassoulet de Lapin, which used only rabbit meat – every part of the rabbit! Our panel of judges was very serious about the task at hand.
And the Winners Are
Best Creative Cassoulet: Ryan Lory, Charlie Palmer Steakhouse and Cedric Tovar, Bobo
Best Traditional Cassoulet: Anita Lo, Annisa and Pierre Landet, Felix Restaurant & Bar
Audience Favorites: Shane McBride, Augustine and Alexander Burger, Bar Boulud
Here is a slideshow that captures some of the excitement, but misses the wonderful smell of a room filled with cassoulet.
Our hearty congratulations to the triumphant chefs, and sincere thanks to all who participated and attended. We hope to see you next year for the fourth Cassoulet War!