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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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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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
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
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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