So last week, before all the madness of the Thanksgiving holiday (and all its attendant drinking and regrets), we threw a little party of our own. It was just us, twenty or so of our nearest and dearest, and two of the best sous chefs in the city who’d come together for one night only at COOK to battle it out for Thanksgiving supremacy.
Our competitors were Chuck Formoso who possesses a formidable Ron Swanson mustache and will soon be behind the stoves at the forthcoming Petruce et al and Keith Krajewski, who was once kicked out of the CIA (the cooking one, not the other one) but didn’t let that stop him from becoming sous chef at Marigold Kitchen. Despite us saddling them with all manner of questionable Turkey Day staples (like bagged stuffing, fried onions and canned cranberry sauce), and, at one point, making the chefs stop cooking entirely so that their assistants had to finish dishes in their stead, both teams came up with some spectacular plates. Granted, a liberal application of pumpkin vodka and mystery beers to the crowd might’ve helped a little, but if you click through the jump and check out some of what we got to eat last week, I think you’ll agree that both sides handled themselves with skill and brought honor to their houses.
Of course, at the end, only one man could claim victory…
Show me the pictures already…
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
As we do every month, we’re giving you, the wise Foobooz reader, a chance to get ahead of the curve and take an early look at the schedule of upcoming classes at COOK. Like always, we’re showing this to you today in advance of the schedule being released to the public tomorrow and tickets for classes going on sale at 2pm. Like always, there are a bunch of really interesting classes coming up that a lot of you are no doubt interested in.
But this time around, we also have something special. Something REALLY special. It’s a Foobooz Open Stove night that we organized as part of the 40 public events Philadelphia magazine is doing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of our Best of Philly issue. And it truly will be a night you don’t want to miss.
Read more »
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.
Read more »
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
Yeah, we did it again. Last night was the 10th installment of our Foobooz Open Stove series at COOK, and we celebrated with booze and food and dirty jokes and two great teams from two of the best restaurants in Philly.
On one side, we had Team SPTR, headed up by Mark Regan from the South Philly Tap Room. On the other, Team Zama, bossed by Kevin Yanaga of Zama. Both sides fought hard. Both sides put up some amazing dishes under odd (and seasonally-appropriate!) conditions. And in a rare moment for Open Stove, neither team panicked despite the fact that, this time around, they had every reason to.
What’s that you say? You couldn’t make it last night? Well that’s okay. You’ll get ‘em next time, tiger. But in the meantime, you’re lucky because we had COOK shooter Yoni Nimrod there taking snaps of all the action for us, so now you’ll know exactly what you missed.
Show me the pictures