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That time I judged a pierogi contest - PHOTOS

blog by Kathryn Przybyla  • 

Of all my accomplishments in life, this might have made my Polish grandmother the most proud she’s ever been.

This past Saturday, I was one of 16 judges in attendance to critique and rate the 5th annual Buffalo’s Best Pierogi contest. Growing up with these delicious dumplings, I was more than prepared to take on the challenge.

The competition was held at Corpus Christi Church, during their annual Dożynki Polish Harvest Festival. Comparable to America’s Thanksgiving holiday, Dożynki is a joyous celebration, dating back to the middle ages and is an opportunity to give thanks for all manner of blessings.

What was I thankful for that day? Pierogi.

The competition was split into three categories—traditional, non-traditional and commercial. There was a record number of entrants this year, with 41 contestants vying for a title. With so many entries, it would be impossible to taste all the varieties, so the judging was split between four tables and each judge sampled 10 random kinds.

Here are the 10 that I judged.

Beef of Weck (non-traditional)
Pierogi

Cheese with raspberry (traditional)
Pierogi

Sauerkraut (traditional)
Pierogi

Cheese (traditional)
Pierogi

Potato and cheese (traditional)
Pierogi

Potato and cheese (traditional)
Pierogi

Cheese (traditional)
Pierogi

Texas red-hot (non-traditional)
Pierogi

Cheese (traditional)
Pierogi

Cheese and sauerkraut (traditional)
Pierogi

Overall, my first experience as a food judge was quite fantastic. Although I’ve grown up eating these delicious delicacies, this was the first time I had tasted so many different homemade variaties. Some I found too doughy, some were a little dry, but the majority of the pierogi were satisfying in their own way. I pictured a little Polish grandma making each kind.

The winners of each category were as follows:

Commercial Category
1st—K-Sisters (Farmers Cheese/Onion)
2nd—Homestyle Catering (Farmers Cheese)
3rd— Potts Deli & Grille (Potato)

Traditional Category
1st—Diane Gorczynksi (Farmers Cheese)
2nd—Kristen Sikora (Sauerkraut)
3rd—Patti Franklin (Sauerkraut)

Non-traditional Category
1st—Bobby Sikorski (Polish Reuben)
2nd—Brian Marek (Beef on Weck)
3rd—Sharon Dombek (Mango Tango)

All of the contestants brought some pretty impressive variaties to the table. The non-traditional entries especially were especially creative, with some unique flavors including crab cake, buffalo wing, greek style, butternut squash, chicken pot pie, cheeseburger and japanese style among others.

Later, festival attendees were entertained with some great polka music, more food and a popular beer tent with Tyskie and Żywiec on hand. The dance floor filled up shortly after, with couples showing off their impressive polka and waltz skills.

Overall, the festival was a complete success and I am looking forward to attending next year—hopefully again as a judge. Na zdrowie!

Polish Harvest Festival

TAGGED: corpus christi’s dożynki polish harvest festival, dożynki, food competition, judges, pierogi, polish harvest festival, polonia, tyskie

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