Sneak Preview: December At COOK

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December’s schedule is about to be released at COOK and you, you clever little monkeys, are getting an early look.

Because of the holidays, there are a lot of nights being taken up by private events (contact the lovely ladies at COOK if you’re interested in scheduling one of your own), but there are still some good classes available for those looking for a special holiday night out. Nick Macri, Peter Woolsey, Phoebe Esmon and Christian Gaal, George Sabatino and Jett–they’re all going to be there and, if you’re quick, you can be, too.

Registration opens at 2pm today. Be there and get clicking.

COOK’s December schedule, right this way

Sneak Preview: November At Cook

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November is the best month of the year. That’s not an opinion, that’s fact. The city looks prettier, the people look nicer, the food even tastes better. My birthday is on the 5th of it, and 23 days later, I get to eat a lot of turkey. It’s really the best month.

It’s looking to be an awesome month for COOK, too. Very Thanksgiving-y, and rightfully so. Rachel Klein (Miss Rachel’s Pantry) is serving up a Vegan Thanksgiving, while Laura Frangiosa (The Avenue Delicatessen) is whipping up a Jewish Thanksgiving, and I have no idea what either of those mean, but it’s exciting. Also, there’s an inside-look at what the Petruce brothers are bringing to Walnut Street and yet another installment of our Foobooz Open Stove Night which, coming as close to Thanksgiving as it does, promises to be a total drunken disaster totally awesome.

Check out the full schedule after the jump and be ready to buy some tickets this Friday, October 4th, at 2 pm.

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About Last Night: Junk Food Rumble at COOK

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We have done a lot of these Foobooz Open Stove Nights. Almost twenty of them now, by my count.

And we’ve had good nights and bad nights. Nights where we messed with the chefs a lot, and nights where we more or less left them alone to do their own thing. We have taken away tools and ingredients, made them cook with gefilte fish, SPAM and gummy bears. We haven’t made anyone cry yet, but we’ve come close.

Never before though have we had an Open Stove Night like last night’s Open Stove Night at COOK. While we have, by necessity, developed a kind of what-happens-at-Open-Stove-stays-at-Open-Stove kind of mentality, I can say that we messed with our contestants last night in some truly remarkable ways. We made them switch sous chefs. Then we made them switch back. We f’ed with the clock, threatened them with a dance battle, made them cook with Kraft macaroni and cheese and a selection of truly awful junk food picked up from the fanciest 7-11 in all of Rittenhouse Square. We made them do shots. We made the crowd do shots. And in the end, despite all of that, Jonnathan Yacashin from Noord (who won the night by one of the closest margins we’ve ever seen), Mack Horebe from the Saint James and their sous chefs performed with amazing restraint and aplomb, cooking some of the finest dishes we’ve had at any Open Stove since the games began.

And yes, I am saying that Pringles-crusted steak, macaroni-and-cheese-stuffed squash blossoms and Swedish Fish demiglace are some of the finest dishes we’ve ever had. Don’t believe me? Get yourself a ticket to next month’s Open Stove and come see for yourselves.

Or, you know, you could just check out the pictures from last night after the jump and pretend like you were one of the lucky few who joined us for our Junk Food Rumble…

Show me the pictures

Sneak Peek: COOK’s October Scedule

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It is that time again, folks. The new COOK class schedule is going to be released at 2pm on Monday afternoon but we have an early preview for those of you who want to be camped out in front of your computers just waiting to make sure you get a seat for the Cheu Noodle Bar noodle-making class, the Avance test dinner being done by Justin Bogle, or the next Open Stove competition being thrown by those hacks from Foobooz.

Anyway, it’s gonna be a good month. And you can check out the whole schedule after the jump.

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September At COOK: Who Wants Some Frybread?

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So you didn’t get tickets for last night’s Open Stove event at COOK and are feeling bad that you missed all the fun. I know how you feel.

But I have good news. There are still a few seats left for some of the other September classes. Most notably, for the Marcos Espinoza/Lucio Palazzo/Hawk Krall Shiprock frybread tacos class happening on Sunday, September 15.

$95 gets you a seat at the table–which is a good start because frybread is awesome and frybread tacos are double-awesome. But the price of admission will also score you some packaged frybread mix from Espinoza’s parents’ restaurant and a small, limited-edition print by local artist Hawk Krall, done just for the event.

So that’s better, right? Yeah, and you haven’t even seen the menu yet…

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About Last Night: And A Happy Rosh Hashanah To All…

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Last night was our 16th Open Stove night at COOK. Or maybe our 18th. The amount of drinking that goes on, it’s hard to keep track sometimes.

But anyway, it was, for certain, ONE of our Open Stove nights–this one bringing together Geno Betz, sous chef at Stateside, Anthony Passeri from Popolino (which is due to open back up again any day now, after their summer break), and their brave assistants for a culinary battle royale that would only end when one of them emerged victorious.

The challenge this time around? Making a New American cook and an Italian cook work with Jewish ingredients in honor of Rosh Hashanah. To that end, we hit ‘em with secret ingredient after secret ingredient–everything from honey and apple-flavored licorice to matzoh crackers (which, for some reason, caused Phyllis Stein-Novack to just lose her shit), Manishewitz (which also caused Phyllis Stein-Novack to lose her shit), pomegranite, gefilte fish, challah and so forth.

The two teams fought hard, talked some smack, drank shots, blew the time limit (more than once) and, in the end, it was Team Popolino that prevailed, having done everything from challah bruscetta with herbed gefilte fish spread to a bitter greens salad with apple licorice lardons.

It was a good night. It was a long night. It was a night full of drinking and surprises and something like ten courses of inspired seat-of-their-chef-pants cuisine. And if you missed it, just click through the link to see what it looked like on the inside of Open Stove 16.

Or 18. Or whatever.

Show me the pictures

About Last Night: Not Your Average Joe

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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.

Show me the pictures

Sneak Preview: August At Cook

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So, at first glance, the August schedule at COOK looks a little light. Just a dozen-odd classes and a lot of days with nothing going on. But when you look a little closer, you see things like a class from Andrew Wood of Russet (which will probably be about vegetables), a sneak preview of Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka’s new restaurant, an evening with Chris Kearse of Will and another night spent hanging out with David Ansill of Bar Ferdinand.

It’s a light month, yes, but it’s an exciting one. And what’s more, it’s also Audi Feastival Month at COOK, meaning that everyone doing a class there is also a Feastival chef. So get on the stick, kids. The classes that are available will sell out wicked fast. Which is why we’re here to help you out–by giving you all the upfront info, so that when tickets go on sale on Monday afternoon, you can be ready to swoop right in and get the tickets that you need.

Check out the full schedule after the jump and be ready to make with the clicky-clicky on the COOK ticketing page come 2pm on Monday, July 8.

Also, while you’re at it, check out the Feastival page. The event is coming up in September and tickets are available now.

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About Last Night: Open Stove Masters, Part 2

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So yes–unless you were one of the 20-some people in attendance at COOK last night, you once again missed out on witnessing the most insane two-and-a-half hours in all of professional cooking. More pressure than Top Chef, crazier than Iron Chef, and with WAY more drinking than in any cooking show on TV (unless you’re watching Martha Stewart), Open Stove Night is the absolute apex of the competitive cooking oeuvre. A moment where the best chefs in the city come together to turn breakfast cereals, beer, gummy bears, Twinkies, pickled green peppercorns, bacon powder, Doritos and SPAM into some of the most amazing dishes you have ever tasted in your life.

No, really. You have not really eaten until you have tasted the work of some exhausted, tequila-drunk sous chef who just barely got his version of Fruity Pebbles-crusted halibut with lychee salad and gummy-bear-thickened bechamel to the line as the last seconds were ticking off the clock, saving himself the shame and humiliation of having to do the “I Didn’t Cook Fast Enough” dance in front of a room of cheering food nerds.

Last night’s competitors were two winners from previous contests. Yehuda Sichel from Zahav took on Stephan Stryjewski of Sola BYOB in Bryn Mawr. And everything started out so nice, with a bread course (which was effing delicious on both sides), a plated amuse bouche, shots of Bacardi 151, and then a gentle appetizer course where all we asked was that they cook using the beautiful, fresh lychees we’d just picked up at the Asian market. We even gave them extra time, just so they’d both feel welcome in our little culinary Thunderdome.

And then we dropped the hammer. What came next was a panicked 40 minutes of flashing knives, tears and fire as the chefs were both forced to cook with multiple secret ingredients chosen for them by the audience. Secret ingredients like curry paste, Guinness, pickled peppercorns, Pocky and horseradish powder. We kept loading on the challenges until one team came out victorious. And for those of you who weren’t there, here’s what it looked like from the inside–as captured by COOK photo ninja and Friend of Foobooz, Yoni Nimrod.

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Semester Two of Cook’s Masters Program Kicks Off

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The Cook Masters Program is a series of instructional cooking lectures taught by some of the city’s and country’s biggest culinary names, for students who are truly passionate about pursuing a professional career in the restaurant industry.

Philadelphia magazine and Cook staffers hand-selected the ten students from applicants to the program. Line cooks, culinary students, dishwashers, aspiring chefs all applied to be part of this second semester and the best of the best were picked.

Today was the first class and the featured instructor was Katie Cavuto Boyle of Healthy Bites, who taught Health and Nutrition 101.

When we arrived at Cook today, the students were all gathered around a long counter, eager to learn and improve their cooking skills. Some sat with notebooks, others with coffee. All were eager to learn, in their seats on time and packing their own sets of knives.

Meet some of the class »

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