These amateur chefs went casserole crazy

The Brooklyn Paper
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Judge Dan Rollman began his duties by photographing all the entries in the seventh annual Casserole Crazy cookoff on Monday night. He was in for a long night of judging.
This contestant followed one major pre-contest guideline — use a crock pot to keep your entry warm during a long night of competition.
Rollman also served as timekeeper as amateur professional eater Rob Blatte broke his personal record for most casseroles tasted in 60 seconds.
Adrian Ashby shows off his “Pasta de Pastiche,” a standard casserole that won third place.
Later, Ashby celebrated his third-place finish. Yes, that’s a potholder he won.
Second-place winner Dan Depicciotto won runner-up status for a casserole that he calls “Mama Cass.” It featured, appropriately, bacon and truffle oil.
And the winners are — Nichelle Stephens and Patrice Callender made a simple-but-extraordinary hamburger casserole called “Damn, Gina!”

Hamburger Helper this wasn’t.

A last-minute entry won first place in the Seventh Annual Brooklyn Casserole Contest in Williamsburg on Monday night — thanks to the ingenuity and perspicacity of its creators, Patrice Callender and Nichelle Stephens.

The Brooklyn chefs fended off 40 tasty entries and took home first prize with their “Burger Casserole,” consisting of a smorgasbord of mixed hamburger meat, tomato sauce, pickles, onions, and flaky biscuits.

The judges laughed at the concoction when they first saw it — but then they tasted it and realized they had a runaway winner.

“The silly funny entry tasted extraordin­ary,” said judge Dan Rollman. “There were so many layers of flavors and textures. This dish raised the bar. I could imagine eating it at a restaurant.”

Callender and Stephens took the cake by outlasting a bevy of gooey dishes including Dan de Picciotto’s baked shells with truffle oil, bacon and cheese that finished second; a conservative well-made buttery pasta dish called “Pasta de Pastiche,” which placed third; and Susan Hilvert’s innovative savory bread pudding with ground lamb sausage, dried apricots and nuts which came to Hilvert’s roommate “in a dream.”

“My roommate woke me up, saying ‘savory bread pudding!’ and then shouted the ingredients,” said Hilvert, whose dish received an honorable mention. “It sounded like she was possessed by the spirit of the father of modern French cooking, Auguste Escoffier.”

But Callender and Stephens weren’t the only winners of the night. The event, held at the Brooklyn Kitchen’s Frost Street cooking laboratory, raised more than $1,000 for the Greenpoint Reformed Church’s soup kitchen and food pantry.

Reach reporter Aaron Short at or by calling (718) 260-2547.
Updated 5:27 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Ash from Queens says:
What placed third was actually the TexMex Shephard's Pie; Pastel de Pastores...
Oct. 26, 2011, 10:49 am
Carl from Billyburg says:
I was there that night and I gotta say that truffle mac and cheese was great it was the only real dish of the night. The burger casserole was a culinary joke. I felt like it was a cross between Bobby Flay and Cheech and Chong.
Oct. 26, 2011, 11:49 am
Jane C from BK says:
Great night, great event, the second place winner had a hot beard and a hot dish. Otherwise, the room was filled with fatties.
Oct. 26, 2011, 11:51 am
Tom says:
Lots of fun. . .and lots of butter and cheese!
Oct. 26, 2011, 11:53 am
patricec from prospect heights, brooklyn says:
Carl & Jane, I do believe I recall you both from the other night. Be Mad, Stay Mad.
Oct. 26, 2011, 1:15 pm
Mosy from The Garden State, aka NJ says:
Truffle mac and cheese sounds more like a high end casserole than the run of the mill burger helper casserole. Kudos to Chef Dan de Picciotto (# 2 winner) for his creativity of such a high class American-favorite dish.
Oct. 26, 2011, 7:19 pm
Rob Blatt from Patk Slope says:
Hey! You spelled my name wrong. Blatt, not Blatte. Photo 3 of 7.
Oct. 26, 2011, 7:33 pm
Mario from Eataly says:
Truffle oil has the same ingredients as anti-freeze. Anyone who cooks with it should have their head examined.
Oct. 27, 2011, 8:06 am
Michel from BK says:
Mario Batali? You read this site? Wow. I'm impressed. I'm also impressed you are still alive. How many fois gras stuffed hams have you stuffed down your neck? Talk about head examination. . .ever heard of a light meal?
Oct. 27, 2011, 9:57 am
Claire Daniel from Hamilton Heights says:
I am Susan Hilvert's roommate, and it's true -- it did come to me in a dream. I spent the saturday before picking out ingredients and then Susan and I whipped it up the day of.
Oct. 27, 2011, 10:09 am
Biff from Hipster Vegas says:
Yes, as delicious as the Burger one was, it wasn't actually a casserole. There were at least three or four others that were brilliant, tasty and actually casseroles.
Oct. 27, 2011, 10:48 am
Cookie from TheWebInBrooklyn says:
Gotta agree, the burger one was fun but I can't say it was a casserole, though it did meet all criteria of the contest. Judges should have given it the honorable mention and a nod for creativity but . . . .
Oct. 27, 2011, 12:46 pm
gidon from heights says:
I was there that night and the wild boar got robbed.
Oct. 27, 2011, 8:30 pm
Francis from NYC says:
The only wild bore worth mentioning was that lame host. She kept talking about everything that happened last year. What the first rule of hosting an event?
Oct. 28, 2011, 8:55 am
SweaterMeat from Williamspoint says:
The wild boar WAS awesome, the buffalo shepherd's pie was sick, and the Oktoberfest one was super delicious too, but my fave was the savory bread pudding one...and if you want to see why i am one of the "fatties" that attended, you can see my entry, La Casseracha, here.
Oct. 29, 2011, 1:32 pm

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