Yeah, we did it again. Last night was the 10th installment of our Foobooz Open Stove series at COOK, and we celebrated with booze and food and dirty jokes and two great teams from two of the best restaurants in Philly.
On one side, we had Team SPTR, headed up by Mark Regan from the South Philly Tap Room. On the other, Team Zama, bossed by Kevin Yanaga of Zama. Both sides fought hard. Both sides put up some amazing dishes under odd (and seasonally-appropriate!) conditions. And in a rare moment for Open Stove, neither team panicked despite the fact that, this time around, they had every reason to.
What’s that you say? You couldn’t make it last night? Well that’s okay. You’ll get ‘em next time, tiger. But in the meantime, you’re lucky because we had COOK shooter Yoni Nimrod there taking snaps of all the action for us, so now you’ll know exactly what you missed.
As always, we started with amuse bouches from both sides. Team Zama put up a Japanese deviled egg with salmon roe, uni and pickled wasabi…
…and Team SPTR countered with headcheese croquettes–made with homemade headcheese, no less. Wisely, Regan refused to tell anybody what was in them until they’d all been eaten. And every single one of them got eaten.
Our first secret ingredient for the night: Roasted chestnuts. See, I told you it was seasonally appropriate.
Team SPTR handled the chestnuts with no problem, making a kind of risotto that wasn’t really a risotto at all, but was roundly loved by the crowd.
Told you it wasn’t really a risotto…
For the next course, we gave them dark chocolate as a secret ingredient. To make things tougher, we also asked Team SPTR to make a Japanese-inspired dish and Team Zama to make an American-inspired dish. The above is Team SPTR’s take on pork teriyaki with dark chocolate sauce.
And this was Team Zama’s “melting-pot risotto,” offering American, Italian and Chinese influences, along with a dark chocolate-orange sauce (which you can’t really see in the picture because they forgot to add it to a couple of the dishes).
Dessert from Team Zama was next. Roasted green tea ice cream over crumbled brownie. Does it seem like something is missing from this picture? That’s because I drank the hot chocolate sake that was supposed to be the other half of this plate.
Team SPTR came through with a chilled lemon bar over toasted marshmallow merengue, topped with blueberries in blueberry sauce–not bad for a dish that neither Regan nor his sous had ever attempted before.
And in the end, after all the votes had been counted, the victory went to Mark Regan and Team SPTR by a small margin. But because this is the season of giving and whatnot, everyone hung out after the competition for a few drinks and a few pictures before parting as friends and noble competitors.
Of course, I haven’t yet heard from either guy today, so who knows what happened in the alley behind COOK after everyone had left for the night…
COOK [Go here now to get your tickets for next months Open Stove]