So last night was the latest installment of our now legendary Foobooz Open Stove Night, and this one had everything: Sibling rivalry, strange fruits, children, over-proof rum, fire, disqualifications, contest winners, breakfast cereal, childhood trauma, a weird old man who wandered in off the street (and not Georges Perrier, for a change).
It was a great night full of food that ran the gamut from awesomely brilliant to…not. And once more, we had COOK photo ninja Yoni Nimrod there to take the pictures. So here’s what you missed.
Something seem strange about that sign to you? Yeah, last night’s contest was between two brothers. And you know what? They even brought their mom. (Mom not pictured.)
A lovely amuse bouche from younger brother Stephan (Steve) Unpronounceable Last Name
The first secret ingredient: Paw paws. Don’t know what paw paws are? That’s okay, neither did the chefs.
And yet still, they managed to utilize them for two plates that were lovely, if not particularly appetizing. Here, Team Waldemar (Val) Unpronounceable Last Name made a very nice duck confit and a decent foie gras torchon, but the duck heart was tough (and, you know, a duck heart, which some guests found challenging) and the paw paw mofongo was just all sorts of wrong. It’s rare for us to have dishes at Open Stove that fail, but it does happen.
And sometimes it happens twice in a row. Val was also flummoxed by the paw paws. He made a surprisingly good squid ink sauce to go with his fish, but the fish itself was salty and a bit undercooked, and the paw paw sauce was just as bad as his brothers unfortunate mofongo. Oh, and that yellow stuff? It’s rice that was going to become a paella–if paella could’ve been cooked in the twenty minutes they had to do their first courses.
Despite the challenges, the brothers (and the crowd) were still having a good time. Also something to make note of–this picture records Steve’s first costume change. There will be more.
Second secret ingredient? Boxes of Lucky Charms. And here, the brothers found their footing. This is a lovely piece of halibut from Steve, with Lucky Charms-sweetened black beans, Lucky Charms-crusted chanterelle mushrooms, and then that green thing, which was an absolute genius move–a Lucky Charms-flavored dumpling. It was magically delicious.
Val countered with seared duck breast over purple Peruvian potatoes and more black beans (also flavored with Lucky Charms). Though not as Lucky Charms-intensive as Steve’s offering, it was a solidly great dish.
Oh, and what made it more complicated? That’s Steve’s sous Sam on the right, working with Val. And that’s Val’s sous Jersey on the left, who was working with Steve. Why? Because we made the two chefs switch halfway through and finish the dish their brother had started. They almost cried, but everyone else in the crowd loved it.
Steve’s 3rd costume of the night, as the two brothers prepare for the announcement of the winner.
In the end, younger brother Steve Unpronounceable Last Name took the prize–which flat-out shocked older brother Val Unpronounceable Last Name, even if the two of them did finally hug it out and make nice for the crowd.
It was, as always, a helluva night. And we’re going to be doing it again next month, so keep your eyes peeled for the Foobooz-only early announcement of the next COOK schedule and get your tickets early.
All Open Stove coverage [Foobooz]
COOK [Official website]