The forces of Rittenhouse Row, Kevin Sbraga, and Danielle DelRe, of Starr Restaurants, have come together to create an event that will be one to remember. From August 4th to the 7th, the restaurants of Rittenhouse Row will prepare meals unlike the ones on the traditional menus and give you a dining experience that is one of a kind. As of right now, 18 members will participate in the Rittenhouse Row Culinary Collective, but the list is growing.
It looks like Lacroix (and the Rittenhouse Hotel in general) have done a bit of hiring and brought some new bodies into the kitchen and onto the floor.
The first is Tova du Plessis, who is coming aboard as pastry chef. That name sound familiar to you? It should. She did time at Le Bec Fin on the savory side as a sous chef, worked at Citron & Rose but, most notably, was the opening pastry chef at Avance, brought in by chef Justin Bogle to handle the sweet side of the menu. She was let go early on in Avance’s run (which, this month, might not be the worst thing in the world), but was quickly picked up by the team at Lacroix for this new gig.
You know what’s awesome? Beer. Know what else? Prosciutto. Add in whiskey and Skittles and a man could live on not much else.
Which is why we’re already excited about Cured & Crafted–a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma–coming to Philly on February 20, because it’s an event that’s basically all about drinking craft beer and eating as much prosciutto as possible.
Wednesday night, the March of Dimes at the Please Touch Museum Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park held its 17th annual Signature Chefs Auction with delicious cuisine, fine wine, friends and supporters. 30 of Philadelphia’s top chefs including Mike Griffiths of Fork, Kevin Sbraga of Sbraga, chef Jon Cichon of Lacroix, and Ed Konrad and chef Nicholas Elmi of Laurel were on hand serving delicious dishes for the nearly 300 guests at a cocktail reception before the ceremony honoring several people this year. Chichon and Elmi were co-chair chefs. Honorary chair was Carolyn Jackson, CEO, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.
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Yes, we still have some time before the first episode of the new season of Top Chef, featuring Nick Elmi, Jason Cichonski and a bunch of other people who aren’t from Philly.
But for those of you out there who just can’t wait, we thought it might be nice to offer up a bit of history–a way for you to get a handle on our two hometown chefs and maybe come to understand, once the show starts, why this one is freaking out over his pork chops or why that one is doing that thing to that scallop. To that end, we’ve assembled a Six Pack of places where the two chefs trained, rose to prominence, made names for themselves or, in the case of Jason Cichonski, are still currently cooking (Elmi is unemployed at the moment, but working on opening his first restaurant–Laurel on East Passyunk).
It would make a helluva restaurant crawl. Or maybe something to do on the weekend before Top Chef premiers. But we’re not telling you how to live your life…
The Rittenhouse Hotel was purchased a year ago by the Hersha Hotel chain but only recently have enhancements been visible. Now open is the Library Bar. The new bar is located just off the lobby and contains a carefully curated collection of books and fine art. Open nightly for small bites and cocktail service, the 20-seat Library Bar aims to be Philadelphia’s most sophisticated cocktail destination. Bartender Pablo “Papi” Hurtado has created a list of custom cocktails including The RH, a twist on a whiskey sour dressed up with house-made dried figs.
Lacroix executive chef Jon Cichon has created a bar menu featuring sharable appetizers, salads and desserts plus a pairing menu that marries sweet and savory wine and food pairings. Highlights include:
- Foie Gras Verrine, Black Truffle and Duck Rillette paired with Hennessy Paradis Cognac
- Ossetra Caviar, Fingerling Potato Chips and Crème Fraîche with Moët & Chandon, ‘Cuvée Dom Pérignon’, Brut, Epernay, 2000
- Dark Chocolate, Caramel-Orange Mousse served with Smith Woodhouse, 1985
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.
And then there was one.
The last eight-course collaboration dinner between power houses Jon Cichon (Lacroix), Lee Styer (Fond), Nick Elmi (Rittenhouse Tavern), and Chris Kearse (Will) is on Monday, April 8th and seats are filling fast. Luckily, this one’s at Lacroix, a bigger venue, so your chances of snagging a table are a little higher, but I wouldn’t bank on it—these dinners are too special.
There’s only one seating at 7 pm, and it’s $100 with an optional beverage pairing for an additional $50. The menu will be a bit different from the rest—a little more Spring oriented since the season is fast approaching.
It all looks pretty fantastic; you can take a peek at the menu after the jump. Call and reserve a spot soon. Carpe diem!
The Menu »
Be Well Philly asked a dietician for advice on eating healthy during Restaurant Week. She’s got five tips to live by and also suggests what to order at seven participating restaurants including a.kitchen, Butcher & Singer and Lacroix.
Cheat Sheet: A Dietician’s Guide to Philadelphia Restaurant Week [Be Well Philly]
Restaurant Week Guide [f8b8z]
It was a meal that will never be repeated. Outside of the massive small-plate food events (like Feastival or Philly Cooks), it was probably the most impressive collection of chefly talent gathered together under one roof in recent Philadelphia history. It was proof of how much lasting influence one kitchen can have across an entire city.
It was the Lacroix 10th anniversary dinner, which brought together ten chefs from Lacroix’s past and forced them to all cook together in a single kitchen, putting out a single 10-course tasting menu for just 80 (or so) diners fortunate enough to have gotten reservations. And lucky for us, COOK photographer and man-about-town Yoni Nimrod was there to witness it and come back with pictures.
So if you didn’t make the scene last night in Rittenhouse Square, here’s just a little of what you missed…