Chef up for $20K Biskie award

Photo Courtesy of Jaime Fernández
Pasquale Di Palma holds his Banana and Chocolate Pudding with Biscuit and Vanilla Ice Cream dessert that is a finalist for a ‘Biskie.’

A Nutley restaurant is a finalist for a “Biskie” award that could be worth $20,000.

The Banana and Chocolate Pudding with Biscuit and Vanilla Ice Cream at Queen Margherita Trattoria in Nutley created by chef and owner Pasquale Di Palma is up for the award given out by General Mills Foodservice. 

General Mills Foodservice, which partners with restaurants to provide back-of-house products, recipe inspiration and culinary support, launched The Biskies Recipe Contest in 2023 to celebrate biscuits in all their flavors and forms. 

“The 2024 finalists truly showcase how biscuits play a starring role on menus,” said Chef Kevin Relf, a member of The Chefs of the Mills who helped judge this year’s biscuit entries. “We were wowed by their creativity and use of Pillsbury biscuits to create unique menu items that shine as entrees, appetizers and desserts.”

Di Palma had heard about the contest from his social media manager, Jaime Fernández, and it piqued his curiosity.

“I didn’t do it for the contest, I just wanted to try something new,” Di Palma said.

The recipe includes sugar, eggs, heavy cream and vanilla extract. A scoop of vanilla ice cream and a little bit of pistachio sauce

“It came to me, biscuit is bread,” said Di Palma, who came to this country 23 years ago from Naples, Italy. “I came up with the idea to make a nice bread pudding.”

The dish is served with the biscuit and pudding warm and the ice cream cold.

“Cold and hot, people like that combination,” Di Palma said.

In addition to Queen Margherita Trattoria, Di Palma owns the bakery, Aromi Di Napoli, next door and Blues Eyes in Frank Sinatra Park in Hoboken. The dish is available at all three locations.

“We introduced it to our customers and they loved it,” he said.

DiPalma, 55, went to culinary school for a couple of years, he said, but mostly he learned working in kitchens.

“I picked up the skill in Italy,” he said. “I worked in a restaurant when I was little. A friend had a restaurant – that’s where we learned.”

DiPalma believes it’s important to put your heart into what you make.

“The kitchen is where you feel it in your soul,” he said. “I tell people all the time, put your love in the dish, and people gonna like it.”

A public vote that concluded April 30 will determine the grand-prize winner who will receive $20,000 for their biscuit creation. The remaining three will be named Runner-Up Winners and receive $5,000.

To enter the contest, chefs, owners and employees of commercial restaurants were asked to share an original recipe using a Pillsbury biscuit product and two or more additional ingredients by uploading a photo of their original biscuit recipe to the contest website, Facebook or Instagram. 

Recipe submissions were judged by the Chef of the Mills, General Mills Foodservice’s team of culinary professionals, with top nominees selected based on originality, foodservice viability, creativity and how well the recipe incorporated the Pillsbury biscuit product.

The finalists in addition to Nutley’s Queen Margherita are:

  • Matthew Eng, Blue Bamboo Canton Bistro in Jacksonville, Fla., Mini Korean Biscuit Dogs;
  • Rebecca Thomas, Dixie Grill in Live Oak, Fla., Strawberry Cream Biscuit Bites; and
  • Kristi Sanders, Rustic Saloon in Montello, Wis., BisGrit Shrimp.

The winner will be announced on May 17.