Open Stove XXI: Now We’re Legal


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…

DSC04683.jpg-open-stov-xxiWe had Evan Butkovsky and his sous from Kanella on one side of the kitchen and Paul Carrier heading up Team Bistrot La Minette on the other. Right from the start, the stage was set for a good night.

DSC04690.jpg-open-stov-xxiThat’s Evan there in the fashionably stripey apron. Like they used to say about knights in the lists, this is a chef sired by chefs–his father runs Martin’s Restaurant in Hazelton, PA. And that, apparently, is where Evan picked up his skills.

DSC04836.jpg-open-stov-xxiAnd facing off against Team Kanella was Paul (with the High Life in his hand and the headlock on his sous) who was the odds-on early favorite because of the extent of his pantry and the way he knocked out the first course with a record-setting nine minutes to spare.

DSC04694.jpg-open-stov-xxiBut first, there were amuses. This, from Team Kanella: foie gras stuffed figs.

DSC04698.jpg-open-stov-xxiAnd a beef tartare with foie emulsion from Team Bistrot

DSC04702.jpg-open-stov-xxiAnd then there was me, already a few drinks in, and letting the chefs know how things were going to work for the first challenge–offering them everything from sweet potatoes to potato chips to instant potato flakes as possible ingredients.

DSC04708.jpg-open-stov-xxiOh, yeah. And Chopin potato vodka (most of which got drunk by the crowd and the chefs–and the hosts–until we were forced to switch to Grey Goose and Gentleman Jack whiskey)

DSC04729.jpg-open-stov-xxiFirst potato-based course from Team Bistrot: scallop two ways with potato bread and tater tots in a dashi broth. Oh, and coxcombs, too. They’re there on top of the scallop, right at center plate.

DSC04732.jpg-open-stov-xxiAnd from Team Kanella: Potato-flake-crusted breast of some kind of game bird with a sour cream and onion potato chip garnish.

DSC04738.jpg-open-stov-xxiThis is Evan working very hard because he suspects that we’re about to do something terrible to him.

DSC04765.jpg-open-stov-xxiAnd this is Paul, shortly after we informed the chefs that they were no longer allowed to cook, but only give directions to their sous chefs. He took it pretty much in stride…

DSC04776.jpg-open-stov-xxiPotato chip salad is awesome.

DSC04794.jpg-open-stov-xxiYeah, that’s a 3 potato risotto on the bottom of the plate there.

DSC04804.jpg-open-stov-xxiAnd a lamb Wellington, knocked out in something like 34 minutes for 20 people by Team Kanella.

DSC04822.jpg-open-stov-xxiAnd then there were desserts.

DSC04829.jpg-open-stov-xxiAnd more desserts.


And finally, a winner. Chosen in an incredibly close match that almost came down to the oft-threatened-but-never-utilized Open Stove tie-breaking dance-off. And it’s a good thing that Team Kanella took this one, too. Because guess who was in the crowd for most of the night?

DSC04768.jpg-open-stov-xxiYeah, that’s Evan’s boss, Konstantinos Pitsillides, who had some version of that look on his face throughout most of the competition. Not the kind of guy you’d feel comfortable disappointing in front of a crowd, no?

But both sides cooked the hell out of those potatoes and the final outcome was determined by just a handful of points, which is exactly the way we like it. It was a killer night. The food was excellent. The booze was…plentiful. And in just a couple weeks, we’re going to be doing it all again at Open Stove 22.

My liver and I can’t wait.

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