This Fest Has Balls: The 1st Annual Atlanta Meatball Festival

by Monday, September 22, 2014

With more than 500 folks in attendance to taste the meaty contenders dreamt up by the 15 famous chefs behind Atlanta’s select restaurants, the first annual Atlanta Meatball Festival was a delicious success. The fest, which acted as a kickoff event for Taste of Atlanta, gathered some of the city’s finest chefs under one huge tent beside Cibo E Beve in Sandy Springs on a breezy September Sunday afternoon.

But, why meatballs? Host Chef Linda Harrell of Cibo E Beve explains, “Since the meatball is a staple in Italian cuisine, I thought it would be fun to bring some imagination to such a traditional dish.” And Taste of Atlanta’s Event Manager Stacy Weenick adds, “We wanted our chefs to experiment, think outside the box, and have fun with it.” So, for the sake of a fairness and fun, they brought the meatball in as the great equalizer.

And as the meatballs started rolling onto the attendees’ plates, the competitors were fierce and varied in response to this culinary challenge. The featured chefs came ready with meatballs inspired by Italian, Asian, Southern, and even Indian flavors – all made with blends of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and seafood – and often served with complementary sides.

From all the contestants, the top 3 meatballs, as chosen by the more than 500 tasters, were as follows:

  • Timone’s Meatballs with Local Beef and Pork covered in a Red Sauce and Romano Cheese, as created by Chef Ron Eyester of Timone’s,
  • Braised Veal and Ricotta Meatballs, as rolled by Chef Drew Belline of No. 246, and
  • The Classic Meatball with San Marzano Tomato Sauce, as crafted by Host Chef Linda Harrell of Cibo E Beve.

These three chefs and their stellar recipes will go head-to-head in the “MeatBrawl Throwdown” at Taste of Atlanta, the city’s largest food festival, on October 25th to determine which meatball will roll onto the throne.

All proceeds from the Atlanta Meatball Festival went to benefit the food-centric charity Open Hand, the largest community-based provider of home-delivered meals and nutrition education in the country. They serve over 4,500 meals a day in the metro Atlanta area, and as they celebrate their 26th year of service, they’ll be serving their 25,000,000th meal to folks in need.

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