November is the best month of the year. That’s not an opinion, that’s fact. The city looks prettier, the people look nicer, the food even tastes better. My birthday is on the 5th of it, and 23 days later, I get to eat a lot of turkey. It’s really the best month.
It’s looking to be an awesome month for COOK, too. Very Thanksgiving-y, and rightfully so. Rachel Klein (Miss Rachel’s Pantry) is serving up a Vegan Thanksgiving, while Laura Frangiosa (The Avenue Delicatessen) is whipping up a Jewish Thanksgiving, and I have no idea what either of those mean, but it’s exciting. Also, there’s an inside-look at what the Petruce brothers are bringing to Walnut Street and yet another installment of our Foobooz Open Stove Night which, coming as close to Thanksgiving as it does, promises to be
a total drunken disaster totally awesome.
Check out the full schedule after the jump and be ready to buy some tickets this Friday, October 4th, at 2 pm.
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We have done a lot of these Foobooz Open Stove Nights. Almost twenty of them now, by my count.
And we’ve had good nights and bad nights. Nights where we messed with the chefs a lot, and nights where we more or less left them alone to do their own thing. We have taken away tools and ingredients, made them cook with gefilte fish, SPAM and gummy bears. We haven’t made anyone cry yet, but we’ve come close.
Never before though have we had an Open Stove Night like last night’s Open Stove Night at COOK. While we have, by necessity, developed a kind of what-happens-at-Open-Stove-stays-at-Open-Stove kind of mentality, I can say that we messed with our contestants last night in some truly remarkable ways. We made them switch sous chefs. Then we made them switch back. We f’ed with the clock, threatened them with a dance battle, made them cook with Kraft macaroni and cheese and a selection of truly awful junk food picked up from the fanciest 7-11 in all of Rittenhouse Square. We made them do shots. We made the crowd do shots. And in the end, despite all of that, Jonnathan Yacashin from Noord (who won the night by one of the closest margins we’ve ever seen), Mack Horebe from the Saint James and their sous chefs performed with amazing restraint and aplomb, cooking some of the finest dishes we’ve had at any Open Stove since the games began.
And yes, I am saying that Pringles-crusted steak, macaroni-and-cheese-stuffed squash blossoms and Swedish Fish demiglace are some of the finest dishes we’ve ever had. Don’t believe me? Get yourself a ticket to next month’s Open Stove and come see for yourselves.
Or, you know, you could just check out the pictures from last night after the jump and pretend like you were one of the lucky few who joined us for our Junk Food Rumble…
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.
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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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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
If so, we’re looking for competitors who think they can work through the stress, the pressure, the heartbreaks and surprises that come from standing up before God and the food nerds and saying, “Yeah, I think I can cook better than that chump over there.”
Exec chefs need not apply (unless you’re interested in one of our Open Stove Masters events), but we’re looking for anyone else, exec sous and below, who thinks they’ve got a chance at surviving in our little culinary Thunderdome. Think that’s you? Maybe take a minute and check out the video after the jump, just to see if you’re really up for it…
Show me the video
Yes, it was an international rumble in Rittenhouse Square last night with a USA-vs-Canada, cross-border throwdown that pitted the pride of Detroit, Scott Schroeder (of South Philly Tap Room and American Sardine Bar), against Toronto’s own Nick Macri ,the charcuterie wizard of Southwark. It was a battle of the beards. It was a battle for national pride which, at a certain point, devolved into a drinking contest (as such things often do). It was an epic struggle between two chefs who may have forgotten some of their ingredients and left good sense at the door, but never forgot how much was riding on their victory or defeat.
It was Foobooz Open Stove Night IX and it was one for the record books. Thankfully, COOK’s faithful photographer Yoni Nimrod was there to capture it all on film. So for those of you who missed it, here’s a taste of how things looked from the inside.
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So last night was out first-ever Open Stove cocktail night–in which we took the Open Stove formula of public competition, secret ingredients, surprise twists and loud smack-talking and applied it to the craft of drink slinging. By the time the night was done, two of the city’s best barmen had gone toe-to-toe in COOK‘s culinary Thunderdome, everyone in the joint was swimming in high-test happy juice, and a victor had been chosen.
Here’s how it all shook out–in pictures, courtesy of COOK’s #1 shooter, Yoni Nimrod.
Hey, what are those guys doing with that sack full of kittens…?
One of the big complaints about COOK is how fast everything seems to sell out. Folks try to get their seats on the first day registration opens and then, when they can’t, they just give up until next month.
Well that’s just nonsense because there are always a few seats that don’t get filled in that first mad rush for tickets. Thus, as a service to you, we’re tracking some of the early September events that aren’t yet sold out. You interested? Read on…
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The September schedule of COOK classes is almost here, and we have all the juicy details for you to pore over as you wait for the ticketing to go live tomorrow afternoon.
But right up front, we can tell you about some of the big events coming. And big names, too. Like on Wednesday, September 5th, when Foobooz brings yet another Open Stove Night to COOK. Last time we had teams from Sbraga and Smoke Truck battling it out with canned food. The month before that, it was an international smackdown with Henrik “The Swedish Hammer” Ringbom from Brauhaus Schmitz vs. Kenny “Admiral Snackbar” Bush. This time around we’re calling it “Battle Brotherly Love,” so can you guess who we’re going to have in the house? Tickets for these nights go fast, so be ready to make with the clicky-clicky as soon as the September schedule lights up tomorrow.
On the 13th, Mitch Prensky from Supper is dropping by to celebrate the Jewish New Year. On the 15th, Scott Schroeder (SPTR, American Sardine Bar) will be making lots and lots (and lots) of pierogi. On the 23rd, the guys from the as-yet-unrealized Cheu Noodle will be doing another pop-up just to keep their ramen-making skills tight. And on the 27th, guess who’ll be visiting Philly and dropping by for a night at COOK…
The full September schedule, right this way…