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COOK’s Whirlwind Week That Was

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October baseball is in full swing and last week COOK welcomed 3 heavy hitters back-to-back-to-back in our major league kitchen.

DAVID KATZ, MEME

Speaking of baseball, last Monday, Red Sox (!?!?!?) fan, David Katz of Meme, graced our stove. Katz’s 22nd and Spruce restaurant is named for his Moroccan-Jewish grandmother and the Thursday lunch fried chicken special (among everything else on the menu) is not to be missed.  During the class, his two adorable sons, Ezra and Abe, came by in their jammies to say goodnight to their proud pops.

David gave our guests the rundown on all things roasting. He roasted chickens. He roasted vegetables. Heck, he even roasted me! While his menu was simple (followed by an amazingly beautiful and elegant looking plum tart), his tips and techniques on getting your chickens and veggies just right were exactly what our crowd was looking for.  David is coming back to COOK in November so stay tuned for our new schedule coming out next week.

MITCH PRENSKY, SUPPER

Mitch Prensky doesn’t mess around. Last Tuesday night, the classically trained chef gave guests at COOK not only a delicious 4-course meal but also a lesson is sustainable agriculture, responsible food buying, culinary history and Jacques Pepin. What he neglected to mention was that his South Street restaurant, Supper, has helped change the face of that part of South Street and bridged the gap of good food on the Center City-Bella Vista divide.

In between divulging the meaning behind the toque, emphasizing the importance of “egg cookery” and revealing his secret to good cooking (it’s patience), Mitch managed to prepare a sumptuous farm-to-table feast consisting of:

  • Signature Housemade Sriracha Deviled Eggs with Cilantro and Lime
  • Carrot and Orange Soup w Cardamom Marshmallow, Candied Ginger and Mint (this required a blow-torch which was so cool!)
  • Pan Roasted Diver Scallops w/ Pickled apples, Celery Root Puree, Capers, Raisins and Brown Butter
  • Signature Housebaked Double Chocolate Brownies

Mitch’s wife Jennifer also on-hand to reign him in when he’d start going off on a tangent or two, but the whole vibe of the evening was one of fun and learning. Mitch will be back in November to teach a Thanksgiving class at COOK. Be on the lookout for that pre-Turkey Day feast soon!

GUILLERMO TELLEZ, SQUARE 1682

In the opening scene of the movie, My Best Friend’s Wedding, two chefs toil in the kitchen of a restaurant about to be reviewed by the character played by Julia Roberts: one is the renowned Chicago restaurateur, Charlie Trotter; the other is Guillermo Tellez, once Trotter’s chef de cuisine, now starring as Executive Chef at the Hotel Palomar’s Square 1682.

Guillermo (who brought his own heavy-duty arsenal of knives and implements – that’s the toolbox-y looking pic) showed nothing other than A-list skills when he prepared a 4-course menu featuring 3 succulent seafood dishes and a dessert of fried Lancaster County apple fritters. His fish dishes, that he swore were incredibly easy and could be done at home, included a tuna tartare, an light and citrusy octopus salad and the greatest fish I’ve ever eaten: Alaskan halibut atop boniatos (sweet potatoes) mixed with black truffles and finished with a corn salsa. Words cannot describe how that dish basically changed my life!

Guillermo is now getting ready to play host to Square 1682’s Cheesesteak Challenge: High Steaks –  where Philadelphia’s top chefs get together to share their own rendition of the city’s iconic sandwich. Some will stick to traditions, while others will tap into their culinary wizardry. For more info and to purchase tickets to this star-studded event, click here.

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