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August 2012

Going Solo

It’s finally Friday folks! It’s time to pack your bags for one last weekend at the beach. And whoever is staying in town this weekend should have an interesting time thanks to Jay-Z’s big shindig on the parkway. So to all of you have a great one and make sure you eat something good, and to inspire you here are some snapshots from last week’s class with Michael Solomonov (Zahav, Percy Street Barbecue, Federal Donuts and the soon-to-come Citron and Rose) that I just had to share.

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OMMEGANG WITH A BANG!

Let me tell you about a magical place, way up in the mountains of upstate New York where the trees are evergreen, cows are forever happy, Belgian beer flows like water and baseball memorabilia is in every possible direction you look!  My friends, I’m talking about Cooperstown NY. Friend of COOK, Hahri, and I got invited to Cooperstown to participate in the annual Ommegang Brewery Festival.
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Will-ing and Able: Chef Chris Kearse’s solo debut

I got to know COOK alum Chris Kearse over the past year through writing this profile of him for Philadelphia City Paper. The Levittown native and former chef of Pumpkin, who’s cooked in some of America’s best kitchens, will be the first to tell you he’s not fond of attention, but his latest accomplishment demands it. This weekend, he opens Will (1911 E. Passyunk Ave.), the 28-year-old’s long-awaited chance to be both chef and owner.

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TGIFoieday with Ben Puchowitz of Matyson

Meet Ben Puchowitz, Executive Chef of Matyson, who recently won Philadelphia Magazine’s “Best of Philly: Tasting Menu”.  When Ben’s not creating a new themed tasting each week, he enjoys listening to Jazz music, drinking ice cold Budweiser and eating all types of Asian Noodles.  Ben is a very likable guy.  But to some, he’s considered the enemy. With the recent California Ban on Foie Gras, Philadelphia chefs showed their support for the use of Foie Gras by holding events around the city.  The month leading up to the ban Philadelphia held #FoieFridays.  This was the brainchild of Kevin McKenzie and Chef Jason Cichonski of Ela, where participants offered a special Foie Gras dish for $10.

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Beer in the ‘Burg: A tour of Brooklyn Brewery

The COOK crew loves the many Philly-region breweries that come through to share their knowledge (and products), but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for a little non-local beer love, too. Take Brooklyn, one of America’s most visible and successful craft breweries, which teamed up with Di Bruno’s for a beer and cheese pairing class last month. A recent trip up to NYC’s most populous borough wasn’t complete without a stop into the brewery’s HQ, currently in the midst of a multi-million-dollar expansion.

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Lacroix at the Rittenhouse Celebrates a Decade with the Ultimate Collaboration Dinner

Lacroix at the Rittenhouse, COOK’s dear friend and very near neighbor, has always been a trend-setting force in Philadelphia dining, as well as a proving ground for some of our brightest chefs. That’s why we’re geeked to hear what one of our most evolutionary kitchens has planned for its 10-year anniversary.

On September 24 — big heads up for this one — Lacroix Executive Chef Jon Cichon (above, at his tuna butchering class) and Executive Pastry Chef Fred Ortega will fold eight former colleagues back into the fray for a one-night-only tasting. Here are the alums who will join the current brigade, plus chef Jean-Marie Lacroix himself, for this singular occasion (quite a few friends of COOK on this list, too):

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Open Stove V: It’s cans! They were just cans!

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First: Free corned beef to any commenter who can successfully identify the classic movie quoted in the headline.

Onto the non-literal meat: The fifth installment of COOK’s Open Stove series, which sets two Philly kitchen up-and-comers on a collision course beset with culinary booby traps, had a bit of theme. Yes, the unwelcome surprises, overall confusion and indecorous liquor consumption that have characterized previous installments were present, but OS Numero Cinco boasted something else entirely: cans. Each of the secret ingredients — competitors are allowed to pre-prepare an amuse bouche and a dessert, with apps and entrées up in the air — came vacuum-sealed, perhaps last thing a professional chef wants to be handed.

How did the personnel fare? Damn well.

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August 15: Le Bec Fin honors Julia Child

It wasn’t too long ago that The COOKbook took you on a photographic tour of Le Bec Fin, reinvigorated under the watch of new owner Nicolas Fanucci (left) and chef Walter Abrams (right), French Laundry alums who have injected The House That Perrier Built with new energy and purpose. Now that they’ve had a few months to settle in, earning a rave review from Philly Mag in the process, the team has started organizing special events. This Wednesday, August 15, the restaurant will participate in Julia Child Restaurant Week, a nationwide celebration honoring the great American-born ambassador of French cuisine, with a special menu served offered in LBF’s more casual Chez Georges.

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The Graveyard Shift at FedNuts

For as long as I remember I was always a “night crawler” or “vampire”, asleep through the day and awake at night.  Whether I was watching reruns on television of my favorite cooking shows or wandering around the streets of Tel Aviv with my friends, I could just never go to bed before 2am. Believe me I tried, but I’m just not a morning person and if it was up to me, my day would not start before noon and would end in the wee hours of the night. But it’s only when I met Zack Engel, Chef of Federal Donuts that I understood I have it easy! Zack is a true night owl and not a “wannabe” like me. To make all the delicious fried chicken and mind-blowing donuts you can get at Federal Donuts as early as 7am (chicken at 11:45am) Zack arrives at work at midnight almost on a daily basis. And about twice a week he does it all by his lonesome! One night owl to another, Zack invited me to join him for his graveyard shift at FedNuts (as we call it at COOK) to see how it’s done and to keep him company so he could stop talking to himself for one night.

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Prost! Oktoberfest bei COOK!

Lederhosens, Dirndls and Bier Steins.. Oh My!

Put on your lederhosen or dirndl, and ready the bierfass!  O’ zapft ist!  Jeremy Nolen of Brauhaus Schmitz kicked off Feastival month at COOK properly with an Oktoberfest celebration on August 1st 2012!   The class was an excellent preview to Brauhaus Schmitz 4th annual Oktoberfest on September 29th 2012!

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