So last night was our big, Best of Philly 40th Anniversary Open Stove Masters showdown, pitting Joe Cicala from Le Virtu against Joey Baldino from Zeppoli in a five-course, knock-down, drag-out culinary battle to the death. And it was a night that truly had everything–from Cicala showing up with no sous chef and cooking the entire night solo (a first for Open Stove) to Solo himself, Michael Solomonov, showing up out of the blue to hang out, shake hands and check in on the competitors.
Since we had two incredibly talented Italian chefs in the house, we gave them the worst Italian ingredients we could find to work with–dry, grocery store pasta, plastic shaker cans full of generic parmesan cheese, Italian salad dressing and the like. We shocked them with ingredients, we messed with their heads, we forced them to cook on a wickedly short schedule (35 minutes to plate 22 finished entrees). And yet the guys still triumphed–knocking out course after amazing course of Italian grub for the packed house.
In the end, it was Team Zeppoli that brought home the win. But it was a close and hard-fought contest. And for those of you not lucky enough to be in attendance, we had champion shooter and friend of Foobooz, Yoni Nimrod, on hand to snap some gorgeous pictures.
Check ’em out after the jump. Don’t forget to pick up a Best of Philly issue (on the stands right now). And be looking out for our next sneak preview of the new COOK schedule coming later this week.