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January 2013

COOK Masters Program: Getting Into Wine with Brian Freedman

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In culinary school I ran a wine club called “Uncorked!” (I know, so damn clever, right?) I had some pretty good wine teachers, too, so I already knew a fair bit about wine when I walked into Brian Freedman’s class and practicum on wine tasting. I was very pleasantly surprised, though, by the river of truly useful, well-framed information and advice he offered. Many people are passionate and knowledgeable about wine, but Freedman sets himself apart by being an engaging speaker and a skilled teacher, too. (His Master’s Degree in Education probably helps, too.) Plenty of sommeliers and wine geeks can direct you to a few choice bottles, but an enthusiastic educator like Freedman is a much more rare, and more helpful, kind of person to find. If I were to give him a mantra, I’d recycle that old cliché about fish and fishing: “Tell a man what bottle to buy and he’ll have a good drink; teach him how to understand wine and he’ll drink well all his life.”

It would be impossible in this limited space to bottle up and label everything Freedman had to share, so let me just pour us a few glasses of the more significant lessons of the day.

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Open Stove X: Hip to Be Square

COOK’s primo Center City location puts it in super-close proximity to some of Philly’s best restaurants. Two of those near neighbors — Lacroix and Rittenhouse Tavern — provided the whisk-wielding warriors for the 10th installment of the always-a-blast Open Stove battle. In addition to being the first COOK-off of 2013, OSX (catchy!) also marked the first-ever participation of a female competitor. Hilary Hamilton (second from right), sous for Tavern chef/COOK regular Nick Elmi, toted her knife roll across the park to Rittenhouse Square-off against Doug Allen, one of the many talents to be found in chef Jon Cichon‘s next-level Lacroix kitchen.

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Notes from a Kitchen-Classroom: COOK Masters Program Now in Session

This week was biggie. Not just for us at COOK but also for the 10 lucky (and very enthusiastic) students who participated in our inaugural class session of the COOK Masters Program. Not familiar with CMP? In a nutshell, CMP is an instructional cooking series taught by some of the city’s and country’s biggest culinary names, for 10 students who are truly passionate about pursuing a professional career in the restaurant industry. The first semester is being taught by Jon Cichon (Lacroix), Joe Cicala (Le Virtu), Peter Woolsey (Bistrot La Minette), Christina Diekwicz (Barclay Prime), Katie Cavuto Boyle (Healthy Bites), Brian Freedman (food and wine writer/consultant), and Michael Solomonov (Zahav, Percy Street Barbecue, Federal Donuts, Citron & Rose).

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Sustainable Seafood with Kris Sandholm

Chef Kris Sandholm makes his return to COOK to discuss the topic of sustainable seafood.  He has 17 years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry, recently the Chef/Owner of Bethlehem, PA’s Starfish Brasserie. This ex-Marine and Florida Culinary Institute alumni believes in operating a seafood restaurant in the most sustainable way possible.  As an advocate of sustainability, he is working with the Department of Natural Resources in Maryland fighting for the cause.

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