As fall approaches, many are thinking about what lies ahead. School, Football and Hockey all get ready to start back up. Labor Day, Oktoberfest, Halloween all make their way back into our minds. Not to be forgotten in all of that is the Dożynki Festival. The annual harvest fest at Corpus Christi Church (in its 38th year!) brings people together to celebrate the harvest season, with scheduled masses, food, music and vendors throughout. It also brings us the Buffalo’s Best Pierogi Contest.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about Dożynki until about 8 years ago. The contest in particular caught my eye. Having just started back into the tradition with my family 5 years prior, each year I would make a batch of pierogi that strayed away from the traditional fare. Stumbling upon a contest that amateurs can enter traditional or non-traditional creations was amazing! Spinach and Feta won the Non-Traditional category that year and everyone in attendance just seem to be having a wonderful time. Finally in 2012 I took the dive and entered the contest and found out just how great it really was.
If you’ve never entered a food competition, this contest is for you. While we all feel our family recipe or that idea we have is the best, everyone I’ve met over the years is just there to have some fun and meet people with a shared love of tradition and pierogi. That tradition shines in the classic recipes of the entries in the Traditional Category. The look, smell and presentation trigger memories and cravings of being home with family with a giant pile of pierogi in front of you. Picking a winner out of these entries has to be a difficult decision for the judges.
It’s the Non-Traditional Category that keeps me coming. Seeing the creativity in the flavors and plating that everyone comes up with makes me think more outside of the box each year. Seeing others making ideas like Crab Cake, Thanksgiving Dinner, Chicken Pot Pie, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Philly Cheesesteak, and of course takes on Beef on Weck, Chicken Wing and Ruebens each year, it makes me want to be able to try everything. From playing it safe my first year with my take on a Beef on Weck, to the Mardi Gras pictured above, to a bowl of Apple Cinnamon Cheerio Pierogi and ice cream, to an IPA in pierog form I called Hopped Up (beer braised chicken in a hop seasoned dough), the contest lends itself to Buffalo’s amateur cooks to have a little fun and showcase their talent. There’s a Commercial Category for the not so amateur as well.
As someone who has taken part in this contest in 4 of its years I say.. Join me and have some fun! Some advice I can give is this: plating is underrated and bring extra! One of my favorite parts of the contest is trading creations with the other contestants or letting curious attendees try what you made.
People who wish to enter the contest can online by clicking here or by contacting the rectory at (716) 896-1050. The deadline for entries is Monday, September 25, 2017.
A group of celebrity judges will determine the winners for the contest. Winners in each category will walk away with the title of Buffalo’s Best Pierogi Maker and awarded the golden rolling pin.
Corpus Christi Church was founded in 1898 and is located in the heart of East Buffalo’s Historic Polonia at 199 Clark Street. It is on the state and national lists of historic sites.
For more information about the festival, visit http://dozynki.corpuschristibuffalo.org