Photos: George Sabatino Wins Hop Chef

In a month of Really Big Things happening in the life of Stateside’s George Sabatino, this weekend’s Ommegang Brewery Hop Chef finals was one of the biggest. He’d already bested all the local talent to earn his spot in Cooperstown, and now he was going up against chefs from Albany, New York and Washington D.C. in front of a crowd of hot, sweaty and hungry beer fanatics. What could possibly go wrong?

Luckily, not much. Sabatino was working from a position of strength this time, with ingredients that were solidly in his comfort zone. He came to the event lugging 50 pounds of smoked capon sausage in his trunk (bathing in the fat of rendered capons, no less) and got Ommegang Rare Vos as the beer he had to pair it with–which, all things considered, was a damn nice draw.

Though, seriously? The judges could’ve probably handed him a couple of warm, flat bottles of MGD and he would’ve done just fine. But as it was, he seared off the sausage, used the Rare Vos to knock up a mustard to go along with it, then added some white bean puree, pickled fennel and radish, and a tomato/olive tapenade to finish the plate. The result? Victory for George and a whole lot of pictures from official COOK/Foobooz photo ninja, Yoni Nimrod who was there all weekend (and has the hangover to prove it). So for those of you who couldn’t make the event, here’s what it looked like on the ground.

Just a man, some forks and some beer. Nice way to start the day.

Sabatino and his crew get down to work.

50 pounds of hand-crafted sausages and all you’ve got is a couple butane elements to cook with? Such is the lot of the competitive chef.

Final plating.

The beauty shot. This is the dish with which Sabatino won Hop Chef.

And here are a whole bunch of the same. The precision looks even more impressive when compared to…

Okay, well not these plates. They look pretty nice, too.

And the dude who assembled them gets extra points for the Foobooz-colored mohawk.

But these? Brown-on-brown is never a good color choice when assembling a dish. And seriously, wasn’t there someone around to wipe plates?

Here’s Sabatino talking to the judges. Though I’m not sure how much convincing he had to do considering…

…this happened shortly after.

There were hugs. There were high-fives…

…and photos with the judging team.

But really, this is what matters: Team Sabatino bringing home the gold for Philly. So congrats, gentlemen. Nicely done. And now the only question is, with the year that Sabatino has already had, where can he possibly go next?

Stateside [Official website]

Brewery Ommegang [Official website]