Cook News: October Schedule, Gin Hangovers and Surviving the (Official) Opening Night

On Tuesday, Cook (the collaborative kitchen, classroom and experimental food lab from Audrey Claire Taichman) had its unofficial opening night–a kind of friends-and-family, pre-sold, not-exactly-open-to-the-public event which featured Georges Perrier behind the bright and shiny-new Wolf range, cooking and chatting and generally just being his charming, French-y self. I didn’t go to this event, but did call the next morning to see how things went–wanting to make sure that the place hadn’t caught fire (looking at you, Spread Bagelry), that no SWAT teams had been called, that there hadn’t been a last-minute decision to just junk the whole cooking school idea and turn the place into a sushi bar. On an opening night, that’s really all I expect of a new operation: Don’t catch fire, don’t perform any kind of panicky conceptual U-turns and don’t make the 11 o’clock news in any way that would involve a police captain being interviewed and saying something like, “At this point, we don’t even know how many hostages are inside…” I’ve been through enough restaurant openings in my time to know that no one should really ask for anything more than that. If you make it through the night with no sirens, that should be considered a smashing victory.

Wednesday was a down day at 20th and Rittenhouse. A recovery day. And then came Thursday–the official first night of business, which also happened to be the sold-out Foobooz/Philly mag/Philadelphia Distilling Gin-o-Rama. The real-world version of the Gin Universe guide we did a couple weeks back. And I was there for that, right from the start. Honestly, I’m still recovering today.

Click through the jump for a wrap-up of the opening night festivities and a Foobooz exclusive sneak-preview of Cook’s October schedule…

6 courses, 6 classic gin cocktails, cooking demos, mixology demos, lessons on gin distilling and the histories of various spirits and cocktails–a full night. Everyone arrived hungry and sober, left 3 hours later stuffed and tipsy. And it was a blast–a cross between a well-attended cocktail party (all full of talk and food and booze and laughter) and the best day of school ever. Chef Lou Boquilla (exec at Cook, c-de-c at Audrey Claire) did a full spread of plates that paired with gin–no easy task. There were oysters with Bluecoat gin mignonette, marinated Maine lobster, Arctic char house-cured with gin botanicals, coriander and juniper-roasted veal loin with seared foie gras and a fig-and-juniper compote, a citrus-infused olive oil cake with sweet vermouth creme. And the bar crew from Twenty Manning did us proud with their jumped-up versions of the Tom Collins, the Aviation, the Vesper, the Journalist, a Prosecco-topped Verona and martinis with lemongrass and ginger-infused Bluecoat that maybe shouldn’t have been the last drink served before sending everyone out into the night. They were killers, those martinis–like tiny buckets of gin poured down the necks of all in attendance.

The night went off without a hitch, plagued only by the constant stream of neighbors pressing their noses up against Cook’s windows (and one guy who actually walked in, sat down and asked for a dinner menu); everyone wondering just what was going on inside and how they could play along, too.

For those of you out there wondering the same, I would direct you to the September schedule (currently online) which has a few spaces still available for classes later in the month. I would warn you in advance to clear September 20th on your calendar for a special Foobooz and Philly mag surprise that we’re cooking up for that night. And I would advise you to start planning ahead because, right now, I get to offer you a preview of what’s coming up in October at Cook. Tickets won’t go on sale until Monday, but because you’re here and because you’re awesome, you get first look. Don’t you feel lucky?

Things start on Saturday, October 1 at noon with the first of Cook’s kid’s classes: bread and pizza-making with Samantha Carrie Johnson from Terra 2 Table. Liz Begosh from Betty’s Speakeasy comes in the next afternoon to teach a class on making fudge, and then Pierre Calmels from Bibou does a class on (what else?) classic French cuisine on the 3rd. In the next week, Patrick Feury will be talking about pickles, Gianluca Demontis of Melograno will be teaching a Pasta 101 class and Moon Krapugthong of Chabaa Thai Bistro in Manayunk will be doing Thai food.

After that? How ’bout Chris Allen from Lotus Farm to Table doing a beak-to-tail chicken class, Tom McCusker from Honest Tom’s giving away the family secrets in a taco (and margarita) demo, a Basics of Sausage Making class with Nick Macri from Southwark, a night in Catalonia wine tasting with Michael McCaulley from Tria or “Lobster Mania” with Ben Puchowitz from Matyson–a second chance at one of the most popular theme nights the restaurant does.

Not bad, I know. And I haven’t even mentioned the Japanese knife sharpening class, the “Night With A Master” featuring Jean-Marie Lacroix (which, from what I understand, has already been bought out in its entirety by someone who, apparently, really digs Lacroix) or the Halloween party on the 31st being thrown by Ian Moroney and Christopher Kearse from Pumpkin (natch).

The full schedule is below. And it’ll be up online at the Cook website come Monday.

And don’t forget what I said about September 20th. We’ll reveal the details early next week, but I can promise you that it’ll be a night you won’t want to miss.

Cook October Schedule:

Saturday, October 1, 12:00PM

Cooking Classes for Kids with Samantha Carrie Johnson of Terra 2 Table: BREAD

Sunday, October 2, 3:00PM

Fudge Making 101 with Liz Begosh of Betty’s Speakeasy

Monday, October 3

Classic French Cooking with Pierre Calmels of Bibou

Tuesday, October 4

Pickle Me This with Patrick Feury of Nectar

Wednesday, October 5

Pasta 101 with Gianluca Demontis of Melograno

Sunday, October 9, 2:00pm

Bubby’s Apple Cake with Louise “Bubby” Taichman and Susie Taichman-Robins

Monday, October 10

Thai One On with Moon Krapugthong of Chabaa Thai Bistro

Tuesday, October 11

Waste Not: Making Use of the Whole Bird with Christopher Allen of Lotus Farm To Table

Wednesday, October 12

A Sweet and Savory Union with winner of TLC’s Cake Boss, Dana Herbert

Friday, October 14

11:00AM: Challah Making with Bonnie Eisner

7:00PM: HONEST TOM’S TACO SHOP with Tom McCusker

Saturday, October 15

11:00AM: Basic Knife Skills with Tim Mcginnis

4:00PM: Authentic Italian Tomato Sauces with Joan D’Antonio

Sunday, October 16, 3:00PM

STARR SERIES: Perfectly Pumpkin Desserts with Adriana King of Jones

Monday, October 17

Basics of Sausage Making with Nick Macri of Southwark

Wednesday, October 19

Lobster Mania with Ben Puchowitz of Matyson

Thursday, October 20

A Night in Catalonia with Michael McCaulley of Tria

Friday, October 21

Drinking and Diving with Brian McManus and Tim Mcginnis

Saturday, October 22, 12:00PM

Creating a Gluten-free Brunch Menu with the Gluten-free Warrior, Genevieve Sherrow

Sunday, October 23, 2:00PM


Tuesday, October 25

Cooking Like A Jewish Grandmother with Ali Waks of Delicatessen – Part Of COOK’s Gershman Y Cooking Series

Wednesday, October 26

An Evening with a Master Featuring Jean-Marie Lacroix

Saturday, October 29, 12:00PM

Cooking Classes for Kids with Samantha Carrie Johnson of Terra 2 Table: Desserts


Cooking with Tea Featuring Alexis Siemons of Teaspoons & Petals

Sunday October 30, 3:00PM

Cheese Monger’s Basics and Beer Pairing with DiBruno Bros.

Monday, October 31

Halloween Party with Ian Moroney and Christopher Kearse of Pumpkin

Cook [Official website]

September schedule [Cook–October’s schedule will be live on Monday]