This year for National Hot Dog Month, Philadelphia's South Street / Headhouse Square district held its very first annual week-long Dog Days Of Summer celebration, which included a hot dog topping contest where 15 contestants, chosen from a pool of more than 30, presented their wild creations. A Shakshuka Dog, an Elvis Dog, an Icelandic-inspired one with fried onions, and many more.
The Sabrett's dogs and Liscio's rolls were pouring out of the kitchen of Hot Diggity then topped on a prep table set up next to the judges.
Each dog was judged on the below parameters by a panel of Philadelphia hot dog aficionados including O.G. Philly hot dog guru Holly Moore, South Philly Taproom / Scott Dogs chef Scott Schroeder, Hot Diggity chef-owwner Keith Garebedian (running inside between tastings to throw more dogs on the grill for the 40-deep line also inside the restaurant, possibly the busiest Diggity's ever been) and yours truly, SE hot dog columnist Hawk Krall.
- Taste (50 points)
- Creativity (30 points)
- Appearance (10 points)
- Technique (10 points)
Overall the dogs were much better than we expected, half of which I'd happily order from Hot Diggity's menu (the first place winner goes on as a special for the month of August). There were some wild cards like the Ambrosia Salad dog, beautiful but really strange, and a few that sounded crazy but actually worked, like the harissa-braised-lentil-chili winner that surprised all of us.
First Place: The Marrakech by Jason Bartlett. Ham hock and harissa braised lentil chili, red cabbage and crispy onion rings.
Second Place: Kimchi dog by Hahri Shin. Young radish Kimchi and paper thin cucumber pickles.
Third Place: Un Chien Andalou by Nancy Lowell. Hot dog topped with Andalusian Gazpacho Salad.