Victoria Witzcak knows how to take giving back to a whole new — and tasty — level.
Last year, the 12-year-old from Cutchogue decided to create an event dubbed the NoFo Tomato Sauce Boss Contest as a way to raise money to pay back a grant she received from the organization Katie’s Krops. The money enabled her to grow produce to donate to local food pantries.
She continued the tradition at Pugliese Vineyards in Cutchogue on Thursday night.
“I’m happy because it gives back to more people,” Victoria said about why she is proud to raise money for the organization, while also continuing to donate her freshly grown vegetables.
About a dozen contestants entered sauces to be judged by a panel of professional judges, as well as tasters of all ages who attended the event. Participants paid $8 to taste the sauces and voted on their favorites at the end of the night.
Donna Farley of Mattituck won the “people’s choice award” and Lorelle Pugliese won the “judges choice award.”
“It’s like a dream come true to sit here on this beautiful vineyard drinking great red wine and eating homemade Italian tomato sauces,” said Tim Martino, contest judge and co-owner of Crazy Beans in Greenport. “I think it’s a great community event.”
Victoria raised $1,000, enough to pay back her $400 grant to Katie’s Krops and buy additional seeds for her garden.
Victoria’s mother, Tonya Witzcak, said her daughter plans to run the contest next year, hopefully raising enough money to help other young farmers in the area support their own vegetable gardens.