Mama Mia!

May 28, 2019

The Memphis Italian Festival is this weekend.  

Credit Pazzo!

This family friendly festival and cooking competition starts on Thursday and runs through Saturday night.

The spaghetti gravy cooking contest is the highlight of the event. Over 40 teams will be vying for the first place trophy.

Sherry Shackleford knows a thing or two about making award winning spaghetti gravy. She has competed at the Memphis Italian Festival for over 20 years – and her team Pazzo! has won first place four different times.

Shackleford wouldn’t share all her secrets, but she did offer three tips she thinks helps her make great gravy.

First, Sherry says you must have quality meat and ingredients. This takes practicing with different brands and butcher shops to find just the right ingredients and flavor profiles for your gravy. She even grows her own garlic and herbs for this competition.

Next, let’s talk about tomatoes.  No can of tomatoes is the same. Sherry explained how she tried eight different brands until she found the one with the right acidity and sweetness.

Lastly, Sherry says the key to winning is having a group of people that love being together. Teamwork is her secret ingredient. She said they could not be there on the park without the behind-the-scenes people that help load-in and load-out as well as the ones who prepare food on and off the park. “We have a loving team that are all so devoted,” she added.

To try some of the award winning gravy at the Festival, stop by the People’s Choice tent.  The six finalists from last year each will be competing for your vote.

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Buon Appetito!

For more information, visit www.memphisitalianfestival.com.