From left: Mike Griffiths of Fork, Kevin Sbraga of Sbraga, chef Jon Cichon of Lacroix, and Ed Konrad and chef Nicholas Elmi of Laurel.
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…
Check out the list
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
Rebirth of the tea room »
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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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…
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The Inquirer has the story on seven local chefs were recently inducted into a brand new State Department program called the American Chef Corps. Earlier this week at a reception, 90 chefs from across the country agreed to lend their expertise to service the USA by promoting diplomacy between nations. Chefs can be called upon to cook at official functions like a private dinner at the White House or a banquet collaborating with multiple chefs. When chefs travel abroad they can also be asked to do an event with the American embassy in that country.
Joe Cicala of Le Virtu, Kevin Sbraga of Top Chef fame, retired chef of his namesake restaurant Jean-Marie Lacroix, Guillermo Pernot of Cuba Libre, Masaharu Morimoto, Matthew Ridgway of PorcSalt, and Haverford caterer Michael Callahan are the seven local chefs that have joined up with the program.
Essentially the idea behind the Corps is that the sharing of a meal between diplomats will promote cultural exchange and understanding, bettering relations between nations. We are happy to have some of our own cooking for peace here and abroad. Congratulations, chefs!
Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Lacroix has moved its 10th anniversary dinner to Monday, September 24th. The dinner will still include courses by ten of Lacroix’s ex-chefs and will benefit a Lacroix scholarship through the James Beard Foundation. And today is your first chance to check out the menu for the extravagant dinner.
List of chefs participating [f8b8z]
10th Anniversary Menu »
To celebrate Lacroix’s 10th anniversary the restaurant will be holding a special dinner on
September 17th(dinner has been changed to Monday, September 24th). The dinner will be created by ten of Lacroix’s past chefs from over the years, each coming back under one roof for one night only. The cost of the dinner is $350 (tax and tip included) for hors d’oeuvres, a ten-course meal, and wine pairings, a portion of the proceeds goes toward a Lacroix scholarship through the James Beard Foundation.
Check out the impressive list of participating chefs. Read more »