Ben Puchowitz took home top honors in last night’s Hop Chef Philadelphia competition at Union Transfer. The Ommegang event pitted eight chefs against each other in a battle to make the best dish that paired well with the Ommegang beer that the chef drew. Puchowitz, who is the chef/owner of Cheu Noodle Bar gave the crowd and judges a preview of his upcoming Bing Bing, with smoked duck buns paired with Ommegang Rare Vos.
A very satisfying lunch at Cheu Noodle Bar was made that much better with some information on Shawn Darragh’s and Ben Puchowitz’s East Passyunk’s venture. Darragh told me that the 50-seat (plus another 30-seats outdoors) restaurant will be called Bing Bing. Bing is Cantonese for dumplings and Bing Bing is just more fun to say. The former El Zarape will be a dim sum house with a large selection of dumplings and buns.
If all goes well, Darragh and Puchowitz will have their take on dim sum cranking by Labor Day.
Last night the ramen-lovers at Cheu Noodle Bar had to satisfy their umami cravings with some lesser take out option, because the only menu on the table was George Sabatino‘s (executed along with Cheu’s Ben Puchowitz and paired with cocktails by George’s wife, Jennifer Sabatino) for a sold-out, one-night-only pop-up to showcase the kind of dishes we can expect to see at Aldine – the Sabatino’s first restaurant, set to open in early June in the former NoChe space. Guests filled every seat for each of four on-the-hour seatings, and the food reflected Team Sabatino’s earthy flavors and modern techniques, as well as a yearning for spring ingredients to arrive in Philly.
George Sabatino has been a busy guy since leaving Stateside way back when. He did Morgan’s Pier. He did Winterfest. And all the while, he’s been working on opening up his own place–Aldine, which will be going into the second-floor space at 19th and Chestnut that was formerly home to Noche.
And things at Aldine must be coming along nicely because we just got word that Sabatino (and his wife and partner, Jen) are going to be doing a one-night-only menu test / pop-up dinner at Cheu Noodle Bar on Monday, March 24.
Shawn Darragh and Ben Puchowitz have signed a lease for the current El Zarape at 12th, Passyunk and Morris Streets. Passyunk Post has the details on what will not be another Cheu Noodle Bar but a different Asian concept. No doubt inspired by Darragh and Puchowitz’s recent trip through Asia.
El Zarape will be open through March 14th, when it will move to 1304 S 9th Street.
The 2014 James Beard Foundation Semifinalists have been announced. Local chefs and restaurateurs and restaurants made it to the semifinals in ten categories including Outstanding Restaurant, Fork, and three nominees for Rising Star Chef of the Year, Chris Kearse, Will, Ben Puchowitz, Cheu Noodle Bar and Ben Nerenhausen, Mistral (Princeton, NJ).
Back in the day, when I was still cooking dinner for strangers rather than writing about it, there was a kind of running joke that went through all the kitchens I worked in. At the end of particularly long nights, the crew and I would look around and say, “Shit, for a rock band, we’re not a bad kitchen crew.”
The first half of that bon mot would change occasionally, place to place: Shit, for a web-design company … For an artists’ colony … For an architecture firm … The joke was funny because back then, almost no one came to a kitchen as a first choice. Most of us had done something before, failed at it (often spectacularly), then discovered kitchens as places of no-questions-asked reinvention.
At Blackfish the menu is all about lobster. And if lobster doesn’t scare you, maybe the vampire squid will. No? OK, how about the price? $45 for a four-course lobster tasting dinner? Nope, ok maybe Blackfish isn’t so scary.
At Mica it’s a foie gras-centric menu. Ewww, liver. No? Not scared? Well at least the Hanibal Lector first course and bloody beet ravioli fit the season.
Matyson is going with a Franken-food theme. Puchowitz and his staff are combining unusual ingredients to make winning combinations. Eating anything named “Fnocchi” takes some bravery.
Yes, the event here is about a month away. And yes, that’s generally kind of outside the window for most peoples’ dinner planning. But this is one of those collaboration dinners where it might be best to reserve first just so you’re not regretting it later, you know?
As of right now, there are 62 tickets left for the November 6 Duck, Duck, Goose celebrity chef dinner and Hank Shaw book signing at Brauhaus Schmitz. The deal here is that six chefs are all coming together to cook a single dinner, with each course inspired by the recipes in Hank Shaw’s book Duck, Duck, Goose: Recipes and Techniques for Cooking Ducks and Geese, Both Wild and Domesticated.
Cool, right? And there’s going to be booze and a book signing and everything else you’d expect at one of these things. But what’s really cool about this one are the chefs that are involved. For one night only, the kitchen at Brauhaus Schmitz will be home to Jeremy and Jessica Nolen (who, okay, are there pretty much every night), Jenn Carrol, Jason Cichonski, Joe Cicala and Ben Puchowitz.
And wait ’til you see what they’re going to be cooking…
Ben Puchowitz has 2,000 chicken wings ready in preparation for tomorrow night’s Night Market on South Street. Cheu Noodle Bar will be just one of the eighty vendors feeding the masses on South Street between front and 9th Streets.