Sometimes when we do these Open Stove nights at COOK, everything goes down as smooth as 12-year-old whiskey. And sometimes when we do them, everything goes down like two slugs of moonshine from a bottle you had to wrestle away from a railyard hobo.
No, seriously. It is a great goddamn movie–probably the single drinkiest film ever, and features a young Mickey Rourke (before he became a poster child for plastic surgery gone wrong) playing Charles Bukowski, in a movie written by Charles Bukowski. And what’s more, it has a serious Philly connection: Bukowski spent three years living, working, drinking and getting his teeth punched out here before writing the screenplay, and used his time in our fair city as the basis for all the action that happens in the film. The L.A. bar in which most of the film takes place? Based on a place where Bukowski drank at 17th and Fairmount.
And what stunned me last night was that during the trivia portion of last night’s all-cocktails Open Stove battle at COOK, I asked for a show of hands from the crowd.
“How many of you here have seen Barfly?” I asked.
No hands went up.
“What about the bartenders. You guys have seen Barfly, right?”
No hands went up. The only two people in the entire place who’d ever seen it were me and Art.
So much for the trivia…
We could have given them liver and a nice glass of Chianti to see what dishes they’d come up with, but Adam Ratmoko and Sean Korcal had it made from the start.
The theme of the 35th edition of Open Stove at COOK was “Celebrate the Movies”, a nod to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia Flower Show. And when I say “a nod” I mean a direct rip-off, in the most flattering way possible.
Honestly, can you blame us? The contenders for the evening basically wrote the theme themselves. On one side of the stove, Adam Ratmoko was assisted by Joe McConnell, both representing team Strangelove’s which shares a name with Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film. On the other side, Sean Korcal took lead, assisted by last month’s Open Stove contender, Geno Betz, both from Bardot Cafe, itself named for French film ingenue, Brigitte Bardot.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome once again to the drama, the suspense, the creativity (and the aftermath) of Philadelphia’s own cutthroat culinary competition! February 4th brought the 34th edition of Open Stove to COOK, this time a head-to-head fight to the death* between Geno Betz of Paradiso and Dominic Santora of Kanella.
There was laughter. There were tears. There were chicken hearts and candy. And luckily, I was there to document it all. So here’s how the night played out.
The story line of Open Stove XXXIII is an odd one: For the first time, the competition was comprised of two graduates of the COOK Masters Program: Christopher Ritter of The Grubhouse and Kris Serviss of Blue Duck Sandwich Company. For those of you who don’t know, the COOK Masters Program is an annual, free instructional cooking series at COOK, taught by some of the country’s biggest culinary names, for students who are truly passionate about pursuing a professional career in the restaurant industry. So we took two people who’ve graduated from the program, put them up against one another, and watched them fight it out.
Weirdly enough, one of them brought an orthodontist as his sous.
So we went and did it again. Because if it was fun the first time, then it just has to be fun the thirty-first time, right?
When it comes to Open Stove night, absolutely. And this time we had the sous chefs from two decidedly Southern restaurants, Percy Street and Rex 1516, come together for a battle that depended on their knowledge of distinctly Northeastern ingredients (plus some kitchen trivia, and their ability to hold their liquor). The results were, as usual, surprisingly good for the number of challenges we threw up before them, and on occasion amazing.
In case you couldn’t make the scene at COOK to see Percy Street’s Marc Campana go up against Evan Kelly of Rex 1516 (which, considering the limited number of seats and the speed at which they sell out, probably covers most of you), we were there with our camera to capture the best of the night’s action. So check out the snaps after the jump.
A battle between two masters of Japanese flavors, our 29th Open Stove was an epic that, despite physical challenges designed to irritate and confound the competitors, left spectators impressed. William Lindsay, sous chef at Morimoto (assisted by fellow sous Doug Allen), went head to head with Phila Lorn, sous chef at CoZara (assisted by Angelo LaBate, also of CoZara). Each team led off aggressively, plating heavy-duty amuses that left nobody wondering whether or not they were were playing to win…
Last night, we held our 28th Open Stove cook-off. It was an inner-city rivalry: Fishtown gastropub Kraftwork vs. Graduate Hospital gastropub The Sidecar Bar & Grille. Both restaurants under the same chef/owners; both contenders doing some pretty awesome stuff in their own kitchens. But in the immortal words of Arthur Etchells, “I don’t eat eggs enough for dinner.”
So we made that happen.
It was a booze-y, brunch-y, Scissorhands-y dinner, full of all the breakfast favorites from Bisquick to scrapple. This night, like every other Open Stove, was exceedingly fun. So join us in our recap, and see with your own eyes what went down.
The title may be misleading—last night’s event wasn’t all about booze. It was, as always, an impressive showdown between two extremely talented chefs. They came prepared, for sure; they came excited, no doubt; they cooked us a phenomenal meal. But while they were doing their thing behind the line, the alcohol was working its magic on the guests–mostly in the form of wine, tequila and an icy bottle of Grey Goose which (mysteriously…) didn’t last the night.
In the end and to say the least, we had a great time at Open Stove XXVII. But behind the line, one team had a better time than the other, so let’s recap and see how it all went down.
You know what would make any 28-day dry aged New York strip steak even better? Hot dogs. At least that was the working theory last night, at the 26th Foobooz Open Stove Night at COOK. The battle went down between up-and-comers Geno Betz of Stateside, assisted by Blaise Sideris, and Alex Busch of Brauhaus Schmitz, assisted by Dan Britt.
So let’s see how it all shook out, shall we?