Ommegang Hop Chef Competition

Philly’s hottest chefs blend beer with food.

Last night at Union Transfer, the Ommegang Hop Chef Competition held its 2013 Philly event. Participating chefs included Eli Kulp, Fork; Nick Macri, Southwark (the Judges’ Winner who will represent Philly in the national competition in Cooperstown, New York); Lucio Palazzo, La Calaca Feliz; Mike Deganis, Vetri; Yun Fuentes, JG Domestic (the People’s Choice Winner); and Pat Szoke, The Industry. Also pictured: Marisa Magnatta, WMMR, announces the winners.

Below: The judges included Caroline Russock, City Paper; Scott Schroeder, 2012 Hop Chef People’s Choice winner and chef at South Philly Tap Room and American Sardine Bar; Danya Henninger, Zagat and Drink Philly; Will Blunt,; (back row) Arthur Etchells, Foobooz; Cory Baldwin,; and Collin Keefe, Grub Street Philly.

Below: The crew from Fork: Melissa, Eli Kulp, Amy Falkenstein and Sam Fiorelli. The chef’s dish was “Ode to Cooperstown” foie gras hot dog with kimchee relish, and Abbey Ale mustard on an Abbey Ale potato roll, served with an Abbey Ale pretzel and “crab fries.”

Below: Judges’ Winner Nick Macri, Southwark, with People’s Choice Winner Yun Fuentes, of JG Domestic and their prizes. Nick tells me that he was planning to use the pans to make an omelet for breakfast this morning.

Below: Macri’s winning dish was an “Ode to Homer,” an Ommegang Hennipen ale coppa, with ginger-pickled chiles, grains of paradise bread crumbs, ballpark nuts, and orange-coriander-cured sauce.

Below: People’s Choice Winner Yun Fuentes made a delicious duck arepa, with Ommegang Rare Vos glaze.

Below: Chef George Sabatino was last year’s Philly Ommegang Hop Chef winner, and won the national contest too. He’s here with fiance Jennifer Conley. You’ll recall last year year they were engaged a few days before the local Ommegang competition. Jennifer tells me they were planning to walk down the aisle on May 6th this year, but now that George will be getting Morgan’s Pier ready to open for the season on May 8th, they’re looking forward to a late fall wedding. George tells me to look for two different eating areas at Morgan’s Pier. A dining area with a gorgeous view of the Delaware River will serve delicious seafood, from many of the purveyors that he’s had great relationships with over the years like Paul Appleton Oysters. There will be another area called the “picnic area,” where you’ll enjoy food that he loved as a kid, including a burger with a potato roll and handmade American cheese that reminds him of the kind his pop-pop used to make while he was growing up. I’m looking forward to the corn on the cob with lobster butter.

Below: After the competition, everyone headed over to Alla Spina for the afterparty. I ran into chef/owner Marc Vetri, and Chef John Taus, Corner Foodery and The Corner. He’s been a busy boy working the kitchens of both operations, by day at the Foodery, and in the evening at The Corner. Have you been to their upstairs outside-dining area? A gorgeous place to enjoy a summer dinner. It was my first time at Alla Spina, and I had the chicken. It truly was delicious. It was a moment I’ll remember forever.

Below: I also ran into Marcie Turney and the Barbuzzo crew, Jordan Korn, Marcelo Giordano, Will Shaw, and Caleb Johnson. Marcie wants me to clear up all the misinformation about her new restaurants. Her staff from Lolita is moving over to a smaller space formerly occupied by Fish in June. They’re opening an entirely different restaurant, and I’m sworn to secrecy about that. Lolita is going to be renovated, and they’re putting in a bar with their newly acquired liquor license. The plan is to re-open it in three months serving Mexican street food, which I wrote about last month. The bigger space, where Rhino was, will be opening in 2014.

Below: Chef Lucio Palazzo, La Calaca Feliz, and Sally Thompson Palazzo. Chef Palazzo created these t-shirts and wore them at the competition. What do you think of the likeness?