An idea jokingly cooked up over some wine about two years ago is about to become reality.
During the annual Italian-American Club of Hilton Head Island dinner last year, Joe Sullivan, owner and chef of Mulberry Street Trattoria, and other club members were casually chatting about making the world’s largest meatball, and on Saturday during the Italian Heritage Festival, their hard work will be weighed and judged.
The meatball, which was made out of about 2,600 pounds of meat, began cooking at 11 a.m. Tuesday, according to Christopher Sullivan who helped mix the ingredients, and it will cook day and night in a large oven designed and constructed by Italian-American Club members Joe Carpinteri and Kevin Lawless.
Representatives from The Guinness Book of World Records will be in attendance on Saturday afternoon when the meatball is weighed. Currently the world record is held by an Italian-American Club in Ohio, and its meatball weighed in at 1,110 pounds, 7.84 ounces.
“If everything goes as planned, ours should weigh around 1,500 pounds once it is done cooking,” Joe Sullivan said.
“We didn’t want to just beat their record by a few measly pounds,” his son, Christopher Sullivan agreed.
This was a huge undertaking for the club with a lot of planning and engineering involved. Most of the ingredients and equipment used to cook this meatball were donated by local and national sponsors.
In order to qualify for the world record, the meatball not only has to be large, but it has to be edible as well.
“We have to make sure that the center of the ball reaches 165 degrees,” Joe said.
Using the recipe that he uses in his restaurant and his own home, with a few tweaks to ensure they meet the weight, Joe expects this meatball to not only be huge, but to be delicious as well.
Samples of the meatball will be given out during the festival on Saturday, and they will be donating what is left to six local food banks.
They have four hours from the time the meatball is done cooking to get the meat cut up and refrigerated, and whatever does not get processed within that time frame will be donated to local humane associations.
“We just want to make sure that nothing gets wasted,” Joe said about the Meatball Madness event.
The Meatball Madness event was initially supposed to be standalone, but due to Tropical Storm Irma the Italian Heritage Festival was moved and combined with the event.
“We usually have a large turnout for our festival, but we are expecting even more because of the hype that the meatball has delivered,” said John De Cecco, president of the Italian-American Club of Hilton Head Island.
“Hilton Head is already known for being one of the top vacation spots. Now we may be known for having the world’s largest meatball,” De Cecco said.
For more information or to buy tickets for the Italian Heritage Festival and Meatball Madness events, visit their websites. Tickets cost $6, and a portion of that goes to support one of several local charities that the festival has partnered with.
Delayna Earley: 843-706-8151