Sometimes when we do these Open Stove nights at COOK, everything goes down as smooth as 12-year-old whiskey. And sometimes when we do them, everything goes down like two slugs of moonshine from a bottle you had to wrestle away from a railyard hobo.
Sometimes, every little thing just seems to fall into place–the crowd understands the theme, the chefs rise to the challenges, everyone gets the jokes. And sometimes, absolutely nothing goes right. There’s a reason we keep a big bottle of Bulleit bourbon hidden away in the service area. It’s not like we’ve never had to turn to it before.
This most recent contest–a Sbraga vs. Sbraga death match pitting Dan Kennedy of Sbraga (assisted by Other Dan who is a manager at the Fat Ham) against Quincy Logan of Juniper Commons (helped out by his Juniper Commons GM, Tom)–was one of the good ones. We were prepared. The chefs were prepared (which owed a lot to the competitive culture in the Sbraga family of restaurants, where chefs are often made to cook against each other in inter-squad contests). And everything came together perfectly–except for the part where I forgot to write about it on the morning after.
my hangover my very busy work schedule. But now I’m on top of it. And here’s photographic proof of how well everything shook out.
An amuse from team Dan-Dan–pretty straightforward salmon tartare. The winner here? Those chips, which are actually kind of like Munchos made from shallot. They were delicious and someone in that kitchen needs to figure out a way to mass-produce and bag these things immediately.
App course for Quincy’s side. Yeah, that’s an appetizer in his mind–a full-on plate of fried chicken. It should also be noted here that while the fried chicken was among the best I’ve tasted in a year, that everything-biscuit its sharing a plate with (and the vegetable butter in the little cup) were flat out amazing and rank among the best things I’ve ever had at an Open Stove event period.
Yes, there was more food and more food. In honor of mother’s day, we gave the chefs ants on a log, boloney sandwiches, chicken soup and peanut butter and jelly as their secret ingredients. We made them share (like moms do) and clean up their rooms (like moms do) and do the dishes (like moms do) and, through it all, they knocked out some of the best food we’ve had at Open Stove in a long time.
But in the end, we had to pick a winner, and this time around it was Team Quincy with the win. Am I saying that it was solely the fried chicken that won it for his side? No.
But, man, that was some good fried chicken. And having it as an appetizer sure didn’t hurt.
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