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June 2012

Boston Chef Barbara Lynch Comes to COOK

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Recently COOK had the great pleasure to host a class led by superstar Boston chef and restaurateur, Barbara Lynch: the brains and spoons behind Boston restaurants including Menton, No.9 Park, The Butcher Shop and B&G Oysters.

Chef Barbara (with the help of sous chef Stephanie Cmar and Elle Jarvis, GM of her COOK-like Boston demonstration kitchen, Stir) served a menu of recipes that can all be found in her cookbook, Stir: Mixing It Up In The Italian Tradition.

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Next-level pickles from Jersey Gina’s Gems

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“Suddenly, everyone’s calling me The Pickle Guy,” says Ryan Harrison. “And everyone who knows my mom? They call her The Pickle Lady.”

Nicknames that stick are often the result of some sort of memorable childhood happenstance, but the title Harrison shares with his mother Gina is a more recent development. The vinegary monikers are being tossed around local markets, restaurant kitchens and right here at COOK for one simple reason: The Harrisons make their own dill pickles, and they’re damn good at it.

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July 30: The 2012 Philly Pig Dinner at Mémé

Two weeks back, six Philly chefs made their way up to NYC’s James Beard House to cook the very first collaborative Pig Dinner off their home turf. Chef David Katz, who launched this porky tradition at his restaurant Mémé in 2009, invited John Taus (The Corner), Terence Feury (Fork, until next month), Peter Woolsey (Bistrot La Minette), Michael Solomonov (Zahav) and Jennifer Carroll (Carroll Couture Cuisine) up with him to crank out the multi-course meal, the only stipulation being that every plate had to include a porcine element in some way. Those who couldn’t make the trip up for the occasion should start thanking their lardo-coated stars — on Monday, July 30, Katz is getting the crew back together for a second run, at his spot right here in Philly.

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Second location of Underdogs opening in South Philly

Robert Amar, who’s got quite the food-industry-friendly hit on his hands with the four-month-old Underdogs (132 S. 17th St.), is expanding his wiener reach into South Philly. By late August or early September, he’ll introduce a second location of his hot-dog/sausage restaurant at 1205 S. Ninth St., the long-vacant former home of O Sandwiches. “I’m really keen on being right next to Pat’s and Geno’s,” says Amar, who lives in South Philly. “As much as people like to frown on [them], I don’t know why — I think it’s great. They bring so many people to the city. They are landmark places.”

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Starr veteran opening Growler’s in Bella Vista

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Jay Willard, a veteran of the Stephen Starr collective who most recently worked as GM of The Dandelion, is targeting September 1 for a new project: Growler’s, a neighborhood bar he’s opening in the former Vesuvio/Little Bar at Eighth and Fitzwater with Jason Evenchik, owner of Vintage, Time, Bar and the forthcoming Garage.

“It’s always been the plan,” says Willard, who remembers watching the Phillies win the 2008 World Series at Vesuvio, of branching out on his own. “I remember saying to myself, ‘It doesn’t get any better than Starr. The only way I would leave is if I open my own place.'”

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FEASTIVAL’s Ultimate Foodie Auction Item

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We all know that Philadelphia is home to some of the best restaurants in the nation. So, it should come as no surprise then when we tell you that our city’s chefs are some of the classiest folks you’ll ever meet. As part of the 2011 FEASTIVAL auction, guests bid on an exclusive cocktail party with some of Philly’s hottest chefs. These guys held nothing back as they created an unforgettable cocktail party.

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That’s Your Queue: Behind the Shake Shack Line

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The greatest trick Danny Meyer ever pulled? Convincing the world that it wants to wait in The Line.

Since 2004, when the effervescent restaurateur opened his first Shake Shack in New York City, Meyer’s dealt with heavy queues — snaking through Madison Square Park regardless what’s falling from the sky, trickling out of a glitzy Theater District doorway, packing a greenified courtyard on the Upper East Side. Now, with Philadelphia’s one-week-old Shake Shack spreading crinkle-cut love all over Center City, The Line has a permanent 215 area code. It clings to the eastern wall of Shack’s former-dry-cleaner digs, stretching, at its longest, to the corner of 20th and Moravian, where late lunch-rush arrivals stare at their shoes, closer to Tower Style Pizza‘s graffiti’d Dumpster than to chilly salvation via Termini cannoli-studded “Liberty Shell” concrete.

And that’s precisely how the founder and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group wants it. “We didn’t engineer having the line,” Meyer told CNBC in 2010, “but we did embrace it.”

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Le Bec Fin 2.0: A Photo Tour

The gang from COOK was so happy to have been included in the “by invitation only” event on Friday night at the newly opened Le Bec Fin. The glamorous and elegant interior has been painstakingly renovated and here are some of our fave shots from the night.
We know the new Le Bec will be a huge hit – and we wish our friends there all the success in the world!

Vive Le Bec Fin!!

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Dispatch from Rick Nichols: A Man and his Market

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Next week (June 18-23) marks the Reading Terminal Market‘s Renovations Dedication Week. The public is invited to join the Market as it celebrates the completion of its recent renovations with a week of special events (all of which are free) celebrating the Market and its place in Philadelphia’s vibrant food scene. To kick it all off, there will be a ribbon cutting and unveiling of a Market History Exhibit on Monday, June 18th at 10:00am in the newly created Rick Nichols Room (see the entire schedule of Dedication Week events below). So who else did we ask to write an ode to the beloved market? Well, none other than COOK’s dear friend, Rick Nichols himself.

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Thirty-four years ago there was a bit of Hunger Games aspect to our weekly shopping treks to Reading Terminal Market. We lived in a third-floor walk-up loft on the corner of Third and Cherry, part of the first wave post-industrial types trickling into Old City. And, well, we soon realized that we had to eat.

No grocery stores there yet. (Though a corner grocer moved in eventually, I think on Bread Street, or Quarry.) No supermarkets. Hadn’t been a need. But 10 blocks away there was the Reading Market, shabby and beaten down, something of a no-man’s land. That gave it, frankly, a touch of romance (if you were young enough, and pushing the urban envelope). So we’d hike over there, load our brown-paper shopping bags to the brim, and hike back, the twine handles slowly gouging a grove in our fingers: You had to suffer for your supper.

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Busy Bees

Here is just a taste of some of the classes we had in the past two weeks at COOK!

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