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July 2012

Hot Diggity: Hot Dog Cook Off

Team COOK would like to preface this post with two tidbits. First, heartfelt congrats to the post’s contributor, Hahri Shin, a COOK regular who took second place at the First Hot Dog Cook Off! Given the number of COOK classes he’s attended, I suppose we could say we taught him everything he knows…Second, if this post has you jonesing for a hot dog, there are still a few seats available for COOK’s upcoming hot dog class (“Dog Gone It: A Hot Dog History with Keith Garabedian of Hot Diggity and Hawk Krall, Local Artist and Hot Dog Expert”) this Saturday. So don’t delay–ENROLL NOW!

Last week, the South Street Headhouse District presented “The Dog Days of Summer” in honor of National Hot Dog Month.  Participating in the Dog Days of Summer, Hot Diggity hosted their First Hot Dog Cook Off on Sunday July 22nd.  This wasn’t a traditional cook off, but a topping off!

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2012 Audi FEASTIVAL Patron Party

Thank you to all attendees of last night’s Patron Party for the 2012 Audi FEASTIVAL! And before we tell you more about FEASTIVAL, a big shout-out to Bridget Gray, the maven of all things FEASTIVAL. We couldn’t do it without you!

Now, for those of you who don’t know about FEASTIVAL (shame on you)

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Totally Tuna with Jon Cichon

Sorry Charlie. I’m terribly sorry I had to do this through a blog post.  This note will be the last memory you’ll ever have of me.  I’m done with you because I have found someone else whom I think the world of.  I think the only way is for us to go our separate ways.  Don’t blame yourself, or your hipster glasses, fisherman’s hat and 2.8oz can. It’s only fair that I should let you know how it all transpired.

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Do drunk cows produce better beef?

The cows in the photo above? Totally wasted right now.

OK, that might be a total lie slight exaggeration — but one need only look to the south of France to find herds with a hearty thirst for high-end booze. Going off several international studies that hunted for correlations between a cow’s mood and the overall quality of its meat, Languedoc-Roussillon winemaker Jean-Charles Tastavy started earmarking the good stuff for his friend’s beasts.

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The new Brauer Bund room at Brauhaus Schmitz

MAZAL TOV to Brauhaus Schmitz and Chef Jeremy Nolen for the grand opening of the much anticipated Brauer Bund room! Leading up to last night’s grand opening party for friends and family, Jeremy and his crew worked day and night for days to make sure everything was spotless. Since I was fortunate to get a sneak peek before the opening, I managed to arrive while preparations were in full swing! If you like what you see, Jeremy informed me he will be making the delicious pig roast featured here for his “Oktoberfest in August” class at COOK August 1st. A few tickets are still available so hurry up and grab a seat!

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Opa opens Drury Beer Garden

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When normal people redesign parking lots, they plant nondescript trees, designate “Employee of the Month” spots and tweak the angle of space lines by imperceptible degrees. When food-industry people redesign parking lots, they roll in repurposed power cable spool tables, fill beach bins full of iced-down craft cans and agonize over the placement of cornhole boards and ping-pong tables. So went the ramp-up to Drury Beer Garden, which Opa owners George and Vasiliki Tsiouris unveiled late last week in the formerly vacant space behind their mod-Greek bar and restaurant (1311 Sansom St.).

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Meet Meat the gentlemen of Side Project Jerky

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Growing up in Utah, Marcos Espinoza just wanted to be normal. When he was in fifth grade, his New Mexican family opened Navajo Hogan, a Native American eatery in South Salt Lake, translating to long work hours for mom and dad — and full-blown “little restaurant rat” status for their son, who washed dishes and lent hands during catering gigs while the 9-to-5 parents of schoolmates enjoyed a more conventional day-to-day. “I wanted so bad to be normal, because all my friends were quote-unquote normal,” he says. “But now, that’s the last thing I want to be.”

Business-wise, at least. Espinoza, a married father of two, is now a 9-to-5er himself — he works as a cost estimator for a local construction company. “I really like my job,” he says. “But I also wanted to do something other than that, something involved with food.” He turned this desire into an impeccably branded reality earlier this year with Side Project Jerky (SPJ), a handmade snack that appeals to the polished, meat-masticating gentleman inside us all.

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Beer and food become best friends at Ommegang’s inaugural Philly Hop Chef

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I’ve volunteered to judge dozens of cooking competitions since I began writing about food professionally years ago. Burgers, organic pastries, vegan barbecue, Buffalo wings, shucked oysters, gingerbread-flavored cocktails, cupcakes, chili in volumes that’d fill a regulation Olympic-size pool — I’ve sucked it all down, scribbling notes and numeric scores on sauce-stained paper while grinning like a Hunger Games champ with two hollow legs.  My willingness to participate in these cookoffs has led to some friends accusing me of being a whore for dream-smushing edible valuation, but really I just like to eat a whole lot.

With my enthusiasm, of course, has come a predictable drawback: awful food. A decent amount of the stuff I’ve tasted for competitions has been solid to excellent. A majority of it is just alright, just OK. But then there are the brain-searingly memorable duds. Chewy scallops, raw-but-not-in-a-good-way lamb, rancid parm-topped pasta, mixed drinks so unnecessarily strong they caused parts of my face to melt like the Nazis in the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Gotta take the bad with the good, yeah?

Not so with Philly’s inaugural Hop Chef.

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Open Stove IV: France vs. Germany vs. Sweden vs. America vs…yellow mustard?

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“When you’re always in the shits, you’re never in the shits.”

That tremendous quotable, dropped by Kenny “Admiral Snackbar” Bush during the fourth installment of COOK’s frenetic and tremendously popular Open Stove series, seems like something that should appear on a limited-edition T-shirt or apron, or at least on a check card at The Industry. But the Bistrot La Minette man (right), who squared off against Henrik “The Swedish Hammer” Ringbom of Brauhaus Schmitz last week, might have also unwittingly stumbled upon an unofficial mantra for Open Stove itself.

Yes, competitions centered around revealed-at-the-last-second secret ingredients are de rigueur for food TV — but that’s TV, where editors, fiending for fabricated drama the same way Cookie Monster fiends for his personal smack, cut and paste and fold and tweak until their sadistic boob-tube whims are met. At Open Stove, there is no phony smoke blown in any direction: It’s real-deal off-the-top cooking, a challenge that places competitors directly “in the shits,” bogged down with 20,000 tasks while the clock ticks in triple time and hungry guests double as potential witnesses to a Chernobyl-caliber kitchen meltdown.

There is also soooooo much alcohol.

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News Flash: Zombie Epidemic

 

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog post reading to bring you this important news alert.

From Miami to China, there has been an increasing trend of attacks on humans by the undead.  With the zombies having an insatiable hunger for human flesh and brains, heed our warning, the zombie apocalypse is upon us!

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