Owner Adam Ritter (left) and Executive Chef Brian Lofink (right) watching the battle from the outside.
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.
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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.
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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?
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We celebrated our 25th Open Stove event last night, and the festivities started off with Jason saying, “I’m going to do everything in my power to piss off Lily tonight.”
Now, the Open Stoves previous to last night’s have all been very fun and exciting–the talent was always there, and everyone was guaranteed to leave feeling full, drunk, and satisfied. But last night, something was different. Maybe there was something in the water.
Or maybe it was all the vodka…
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Okay, so really, it’s the crew at COOK who are getting the love from Conde Nast Traveler–scoring the first spot in a list of “Where To Cook With Famous Chefs”. But still, our very own Foobooz Open Stove Nights get called out by name (and as the unsavory spectacles of drunkenness and iniquity they truly are), so that’s something, right?
We’ll just be sitting here by the phone waiting for Hollywood to call…
Where To Cook With Famous Chefs On Your Next Trip [Conde Nast Traveler]
All Open Stove coverage [f8b8z]
If life was fair, we’d all be living differently.
That’s what I would’ve told our contestants last night before they started cooking, had I had the chance. Partly because saying that and walking away would’ve been creepy, but mostly because it would’ve been rock-solid advice. If things remained consistent in our Open Stove events, then it would make sense that the theme of the 24th Open Stove, on May 5th, would be Mexican food. I mean, every time we’ve done a theme, it has been in congruence with the surrounding date, month, or season. For God’s sake, one team had been there only two months before, for an event near St. Patrick’s Day, and we threw Guinness and Irish whiskey at their faces.
So, of course, they’d anticipate a Mexican theme. But Jason Sheehan (the Open Stove ring leader) gets bored quickly, and last night, he didn’t even bat an eye when he shouted “Chinese-American fusion!” at the Mexican-ready and “I’ve only ever cooked French” teams.
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Two of my favorite places to eat in Philadelphia competed Monday night at our 23rd Foobooz Open Stove event. It was a knife fight between Cheu Noodle Bar’s sous chef, Chad Smith, and Will BYOB’s sous chef, Craig Russell. I asked Chad before we began if he was going to be doing anything Asian-inspired, or rather, Cheu-esque. And the soft spoken chef looked up, said “nope,” and went back to his prep. I walked over to the other side, where Craig was furiously assembling his amuse bouche, and I observed, “This doesn’t look very ‘Will.'” to which he responded, “You won’t see a single shaved vegetable on our plates tonight.” Now this, obviously, was not a dig at Chris Kearse. He just wanted to make sure the world knew that this was his food, done his way. The same went for Chad: this wasn’t going to be an extension of Ben Puchowitz‘s style—this was going to be all Chad.
So it began–Open Stove XXIII, a battle between two powerhouse restaurants in a restaurant obsessed city, with food by sous chefs who may be as talented as they come. And if you missed being there for the actual event, don’t worry. We have pictures–which don’t taste quite as good as the food that was served at COOK, but are the next best thing.
Show me the photos
Open Stove XXII was on Monday night, and like most of our Open Stove events, the guests got drunk. Not just because of the beer and wine, but because of the shots of Jameson tossed both into the food and down the throats of the patrons and chefs. It was a crazy night of Irish kitchen shenanigans, all in the spirit of St. Patty’s Day. Because we’re well into March, aren’t we? And it just seemed like the right time to start celebrating.
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It is hard to believe sometimes that we have been doing Foobooz Open Stove Nights at COOK for as long as we have. But by the somewhat suspect accounting of the COOK staff, Wednesday night was our 21st outing and we celebrated it with two great teams, a potato-based challenge, shots of potato vodka, and cases of beer from those potato-loving Czechs behind Pilsner Urquell.
It was a wild night, full of drinking and rivalry and potato chip garnishes and coxcombs. But when the dust settled and the scores were tallied, there could be only one victor. And while only 20 or so people actually got to see the competition first-hand, we’ve come home with photo evidence of how things shook out (which is good, because everyone’s memories are probably a little bit fuzzy right now). So if you couldn’t be there yourself, click through the jump and check out what happened once the shots were poured and the tater tots hit the tables…
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Last night was a special kind of night at the COOK thunderdome. Sure, it was the same kind of set-up we’ve been using since the start–two chefs enter, vying for ultimate victory, and we do our best to make them cry like pre-teen girls with our secret ingredients, trash-talk, funny nicknames, enforced drinking policies and ridiculously complicated challenges. But still, last night was special.
For starters, it was a Sbraga-vs-Sbraga battle, with Aaron Gottesman from the Fat Ham and Greg Garbacz from Sbraga battling it out. Then there was the dictum, handed down from their boss, Kevin Sbraga himself (who was kind enough to show up last night to keep an eye on his guys), that neither chef would be allowed to bring a sous chef with him, forcing them to nut up and just cook all on their own (something that has only happened one other time in the history of Open Stove, and that one was accidental). Oh, and to make things even better, we decided to make last night a Theme Night, with all the secret ingredients and challenges based on Kevin Sbraga’s winning run during season 7 of Top Chef.
So how did it all shake out? Well, we’ve got pictures from last night’s contest to show you if you couldn’t make it in person. But let’s just say that it takes a truly remarkable chef to turn cuttlefish, coconuts, wonton wrappers, bok choy, horned melon and six-foot stalks of un-trimmed sugar cane into edible dishes for twenty drunken foodniks. Especially when you have to cook half the night tied at the ankle to your opponent…
Show me the pictures