Not many people can say that they've got award-winning balls, but Gabe Thompson has the trophy to prove it. The L'Apicio chef admits he was shocked when he was crowned the 2012 Meatball Madness Winner at October's New York Wine and Food Festival -- not because of a lack of confidence, but because he honestly thought he was entering an exhibition, not a competition
In honor of the win Thomspon never saw coming, Thrillist broke out FUJIFILM's new X-E1 Digital Camera and captured how his porky magic goes from kitchen to plate. Get ready to get hungry
Photographed by Linda Pugliese Step one is really going to blow your mind: Add salt.
Photographed by Linda Pugliese Oh, and then add some other stuff: chili flakes, bread crumbs, Pecorino, sautéed onions, parsley, and a spice mix consisting of cumin, fennel, coriander, and smoked paprika. This little piggy got seasoned.
Photographed by Linda Pugliese This mash-up is gonna be so ill. Seriously, you don't even know.
Photographed by Linda Pugliese Now it's time to really get in there and start molding these young, impressionable meatballs. Just like with that lumpy kid from Stand By Me, it's hard to see it right now, but these guys are destined for greatness.
Photographed by Linda Pugliese "They see me rollin'…They hatin'…" (Joke courtesy of Chamillionaire.)
Photographed by Linda Pugliese At meatball photo shoots, people actually say things like "Let me get the balls close up". So raw. So real.
Photographed by Linda Pugliese The next phase of the journey gets a little hot, so it's a good thing meatballs always pack sleeveless shirts when traveling
Photographed by Linda Pugliese 15 minutes later: the meatballs emerge from the oven, almost ready to be pigged out upon.
Photographed by Linda Pugliese Time to bring in the polenta and sauce, two key elements that help the 'balls be all that they can be, without joining the Army and losing way too much weight
Photographed by Linda Pugliese Clearly, here Thompson was inspired by the Chris de Burgh classic "Lady in Red Sauce"
Photographed by Linda Pugliese As a finishing touch, Thompson makes it rain shredded Pecorino all over this dish. This cheesy moment feels like the right time to reflect on the journey these meatballs have made. It seems like just 30 minutes ago that they were nothing more than a shapeless pile of raw pork…Yeah, actually, that was just about half an hour ago.
Photographed by Linda Pugliese If these balls could talk, they'd say, "Eat your heart out." Then they'd say, "No, wait, stop, we said 'your heart!'
Photographed by Linda Pugliese You may now pork out with your fork out.