Last night was a special kind of night at the COOK thunderdome. Sure, it was the same kind of set-up we’ve been using since the start–two chefs enter, vying for ultimate victory, and we do our best to make them cry like pre-teen girls with our secret ingredients, trash-talk, funny nicknames, enforced drinking policies and ridiculously complicated challenges. But still, last night was special.
For starters, it was a Sbraga-vs-Sbraga battle, with Aaron Gottesman from the Fat Ham and Greg Garbacz from Sbraga battling it out. Then there was the dictum, handed down from their boss, Kevin Sbraga himself (who was kind enough to show up last night to keep an eye on his guys), that neither chef would be allowed to bring a sous chef with him, forcing them to nut up and just cook all on their own (something that has only happened one other time in the history of Open Stove, and that one was accidental). Oh, and to make things even better, we decided to make last night a Theme Night, with all the secret ingredients and challenges based on Kevin Sbraga’s winning run during season 7 of Top Chef.
So how did it all shake out? Well, we've got pictures from last night's contest to show you if you couldn't make it in person. But let's just say that it takes a truly remarkable chef to turn cuttlefish, coconuts, wonton wrappers, bok choy, horned melon and six-foot stalks of un-trimmed sugar cane into edible dishes for twenty drunken foodniks. Especially when you have to cook half the night tied at the ankle to your opponent...
Tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich (of sorts) for our first amuse.
And Aaron counters with this--sous-vide scrambled eggs (in the shell) with truffle and bacon chunks.
Two of our secret ingredients (the horned melon made the two chefs make the most delightful faces when they first tasted it...)
That's Greg, looking confident and not at all panicked--which obviously means this photo was taken fairly early in the night.
Aaron making short work of those coconuts.
And the horned melon, too.
Kevin Sbraga stopped by to talk a little smack and check in on his guys.
Scallops--the dish you cook on Top Chef when you have no earthly idea what to cook.
Head-on shrimp done two ways, with coconut water, horned melon and fried wonton wrappers.
This is me doing some highly scientific measuring...
...in anticipation of tying Greg and Aaron together at the ankle for the main entree course. They could both reach the stove top and grill, but only one at a time could get to their cutting boards, pantry or prep and plating area.
Secret ingredients, round two: Cuttlefish, bok choy and sugar cane.
Venison, cuttlefish, bok choy and pickled blueberries for Greg.
And then some kind of meatball-y concoction for Aaron.
And, after nearly three hours of cooking and stumbling around the kitchen, a winner is declared. Aaron Gottesman (who, it should be noted, has the distinction of being the first-ever loser of an Open Stove battle) took home the win last night for the Fat Ham in a battle where (amazingly) every single dish was excellent.
So, does all this look like fun? Well keep your eyes on the COOK schedule because we do this every month. Check it out below.
All Open Stove coverage [f8b8z]
COOK class schedule [COOK]