Ommegang Hop Chef Announces Judges, Beers

Yes, folks, it’s that time again. The second-annual Hop Chef competition (last year’s was won by local boy George Sabatino) is happening in Philly on Tuesday, April 23 at Union Transfer. Yes, tickets are still available ($53.50 a head, with part of the proceeds going to local charities) and yes, the smack-talk is already lighting up Twitter (check out #hopchef to listen in on the fun). But right now we have some news…

The beers for this years event have been chosen–which is an integral part of the competition, since this particular contest is all about the beers. Here, a quick description of how the scoring goes:

The chefs will be judged based on five pairing principles:  Simple Pairing, a direct interaction between food and beer;  Incorporation, utilizing beer in the cooking process;  Mimicking, matching the flavor profile of a dish with the flavor profile of a beer;  Story Telling, tracing the history of the dish and the beer;  and Experimental, making beer the star of the dish.

So yeah, the brews they use are VERY important. And here’s how the selections shook out.

  • Yun Fuentes, JG Domestic: Rare Vos (that’s what Sabatino won with last year)
  • Nick Macri, Southwark: Hennepin
  • Pat Szoke, The Industry: Three Philosophers
  • Lucio Palazzo, La Calaca Feliz: Witte (a good choice simple because it’s my favorite of the Ommegang line up)
  • Eli Kulp, Fork: Abbey Ale
  • Mike Degannis, Alla Spina: BPA

And it’s not just the beer picks that have been announced. We also now know who the judges are going to be for the Philly regional contest. Judging our locals will be  Caroline Russock, food editor for City Paper, Collin Keefe, editor of Grub Street Philly, Danya Henninger, editor of Zagat’s Philadelphia Blog and Drink Philly, Scott Schroeder, the 2012 Hop Chef People’s Choice winner and chef at South Philly Tap Room and American Sardine Bar,  Will Blunt of, Cory Baldwin, associate digital editor for and our own Art Etchells from right here at

The winner of our local face-off will head out to Cooperstown in August for the Hop Chef national showdown. Everyone start laying your bets now.

Hop Chef Tickets [Union Transfer]