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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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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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 »
It’s that time again, folks. The new COOK schedule is going up and we’re here to give you the highlights.
So, without further ado, here’s how June is shaping up…
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There are a lot of considerations that go into the planning of an Open Stove night. We look at the two chefs, their kitchens, their mentors and their histories. We look at the assistants that they’re bringing with them. We examine ingredient lists and styles of cooking and try very hard to design challenges that will both flummox and terrify, while still allowing both teams to actually get food on the table. It’s a long, arduous process and we take it very seriously.
Most of the time.
Because sometimes, we just look at the calendar, realize its just a few days before Cinco de Mayo, buy up a bunch of supplies from the closest Mexican grocery, pull a bottle of tequila out of the liquor cabinet and assume that the party will take care of itself. And that’s precisely what happened last night for our First Annual Uno de Mayo Open Stove Challenge, which pitted Maciej Ciezki from Lacroix against Robin Niemczuk of M Restaurant in a culinary battle for honor, glory and bragging rights. Together, they cooked 8 courses for 20 people, used chiles and cotija and guava paste and chicharones and gummy bears and absinthe, fought against the clock and each other and, in the end, we chose a winner in what was one of the closest and hardest-fought battles we’ve ever had at COOK.
If you missed it, that sucks for you. Granted, you’re probably not as hung over as last nights lucky guests, but you also missed out on soft shell crabs and crab salad, a brilliant hash of pinto beans, edamame, cotija and greens, something which will forever be known as “Olga’s Breakfast” (Olga likes Greek yogurt with caviar and champagne jelly and now so do I) and more tequila than was probably healthy for the gang of blurry drunks that I spent most of my evening drinking with.
But the good news? We had loyal COOK photographer and Friend of Foobooz, Yoni Nimrod, in the house, and he, at least, stayed sober enough to work a camera. Check out his snaps from last night after the jump.
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Now that we’ve just started April, let’s take a peek at May’s schedule of COOK classes, going live Monday at 2 pm. You know, so you can plan ahead, stay ahead of the game, be proactive and not reactive. All that stuff.
And May is looking mighty fine, too: Pat Szoke of The Industry will be grilling up some meats Aussie-style. There’s pie-making with Holly Ricciardi of Magpie, a rum cocktail Dinner with Krista Dumser of Leblon Cachaca and SPTR/American Sardine Bar’s Scott Schroeder. And of course, the Foobooz Open Stove night—which is just all kinds of awesome and, last time, included shots of moonshine and chefs doing terrible things to marshmallow Peeps.
So let’s take a look at the schedule, shall we?
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Last night was another one of our Open Stove Nights at COOK–a night where we brought together incredibly talented chefs from some of the best restaurants in the city, put them up in front of a crowd of their adoring fans, and then tried really hard to make them cry.
This time around we had Scott Megill from Talula’s Table out in Kennett Square and Matt Broeze from Russet in Rittenhouse Square. Both places are lovely, restrained examples of the modern farm-to-table style of cookery, where talented kitchens turn out beautifully composed plates utilizing nothing but the best, freshest and most local ingredients. As such, we figured that the proper way to honor such dedication to terrain and terroir was to offer them a spread of secret ingredients that were also local.
So local, in fact, that they came from just a few hundred feet away from the COOK kitchen.
From the 7-11 right down the street.
So what happens when you make dedicated, farm-to-table chefs cook with barbecue potato chips, 7-11 coffee, Tostitos queso dip, corn nuts, marshmallow Peeps, Froot Loops and squeezable grape jelly? Check out the snaps from COOK photographer and Friend of Foobooz, Yoni Nimrod collected below and have a look for yourself.
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Yesterday was the final meeting for the first class of the COOK Masters Program, and what better way to put a cap on things than by having all the students get together and use what they’d learned to cook a mock service while being judged by local food writers, chefs and critics and bossed around behind the line by Michael Solomonov?
Yeah, nothing like an easy last day of classes, right?
Still, the 9 students that made it to the end of the program did a good job putting everything together. And while there were some stumbles, one thing was clear: There are now 9 very well-trained, well-rounded and well-connected new cooks on the Philly scene looking for kitchens in which to kick ass. And here’s a little bit of good news for those of you who didn’t make the cut for the first semester: COOK is doing it all again, starting very soon. So keep your eyes on Foobooz early next week for details on the new semester of the COOK Masters Program.
In the meantime, though, check out these snaps shot by COOK’s photographer and Friend of Foobooz, Yoni Nimrod.
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It’s that time again, folks. The new schedule of COOK classes is going live tomorrow afternoon, but because you are wise and loyal fans of Foobooz, you get to sneak a peek at it early and thereby plan out your assault for tomorrow.
There’s a lot of cool and interesting stuff happening at COOK in April–like an evening with Lee Styer of Fond, “Breakfast of Champions”with Scott Schroeder and George Costa, a shellfish class with Joncarl Lachman of Noord (which, if I’m not mistaken, is probably the first time he’ll be cooking in Philly in any kind of public way), and our own Foobooz Open Stove night to start the month off right.
Check out the full schedule after the jump.
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Last night, Jamie Wolf of Alma de Cuba and Carmen Cappello from the Moshulu faced off in our own tiny little Kitchen Stadium (otherwise known as the kitchen at COOK). They brought their sous chefs. They brought their knives and their ingredients. They thought they knew what was going to happen when we started the clock.
They had no idea.
Pictures and more, right this way