COOK’s boutiqe packs a powerful punch. In a cozy corner of our demonstration kitchen is a highly concentrated retail nook filled to the brim with utensils, herbs and spices, soaps, candles, and pantry essentials. More and more, we have been adding local artisan goods to the mix. You may recall previous blog posts detailing such local items–pickles from Jersey Gina’s Gems, Side Project Jerky, and the Fresh Food Memory Game to name a few.
All posts in Uncategorized
If you’re familiar with COOK’s boutique, then you know about our private label pantry items, soaps, candles, cookbook collection, and local artisan foods such as Side Project Jerky, Rival Bros. Coffee and Jersey Gina’s Jems. But now there’s something on our shelves specifically for the youngins: The Fresh Food Memory Game, a creative take on the classic family box game that you may know simply as “Memory” or “Concentration.” An added bonus: all proceeds benefit art programs in under-resourced public schools. Continue reading →
Planning is now under way for the 2013 Audi Feastival, an annual celebration bringing together Philadelphia’s top chefs and restaurants to benefit FringeArts. A highlight of each FEASTIVAL is the evening’s auction — a number of exclusive packages go up for bidding, with all proceeds directly supporting the arts in Philadelphia. The ultimate food-centric experience offered as part of 2012′s auction became an opulent reality in March, when six of the city’s most celebrated chefs created a dinner party to remember for an exclusive group of Philly-based patrons of the arts. Continue reading →
“Use as much profanity as you want,” began Michael Solomonov cheerfully. “F-bombs, totally acceptable. Also encouraged: open-hand body slaps; impromptu high-stakes rock-paper-scissors games; and devious ways to get a man to bend down so you can finger-thwack him from behind. Those are today’s basic ground-rules. Everybody okay with that? Great, let’s get going!”
And so began our final COOK Masters class, with Solomonov in the lead like the naughty conductor of some deranged culinary orchestra. If you’ve read your Bourdain, or marveled at Ramsey’s foul-mouthed locutions on the telly, or even seen Ratatouille, you already know that professional kitchens can be a bit rough around the edges—seething, cursing vortexes of controlled chaos and intense personalities on a passionate mission to craft flavor and beauty. No matter where you eat, the person who cooked that exquisite dish for you is likely to be the type who, say, was once a roadie for Insane Clown Posse, or who could teach you the kind of filthy Spanish that would make his abuela gasp and faint. They truly are a “colorful” lot.
There are plenty of tyrants out there commanding their kitchens with expletives and berating and belittling, but that’s not what I’m talking about with Solomonov. He’s more of a mischievous sort, slinging the shit for fun, of course, but also to build camaraderie and the kind of healthy rivalry that gets everyone to goad everyone else into doing an even better job. The Japanese call this “sessa-takuma,” which literally means people polishing each another by grinding against each other’s hard surfaces. Faster, cleaner, prettier, tastier, better, whatever-er—that’s what gets cooks off, and they take pride in it. Continue reading →
Arthur Cavaliere speaks with quick confidence, likes to have fun and shoot the sh*t while he’s cooking, and is full of “crazy good tricks.” He might have made a pretty good lawyer, except that he dropped out of law school to let cooking take over his life, working in one high-profile kitchen after another (El Vez, Amada, and Parc, to name a few). Now he’s got a place of his own, In Riva, doing “southern-Italian with a lot of French technique” down by the Schuylkill in East Falls. He’s a barrel of culinary knowledge and experience, but on this day he visited COOK simply to get us into the basics of making and serving fresh pastas. Continue reading →
“Cooking is not an art,” says Peter Woolsey, “It’s a craft. Art is about expressing whatever you want; craft is about consistently re-creating what is expected.”
(Thank you! Finally, somebody gets this!)
“An artist works from his life experiences, his feelings, and he’s free to put those into his product.” Not so for the craftsman chef, whose personal life can’t have anything to do with the food. “You may be distraught because your beloved Poochie just died, or overjoyed because your girlfriend agreed to marry you—but none of that can go into your cooking.” A woodworker doesn’t make one chair different from the others, and a chef doesn’t change the carefully honed details of his sauce, just because he’s bummed about Poochie.
Peter Woolsey came to talk about French sauces — mostly. Yes, he mentioned the ‘mother sauces,’ and the unsavory acronym culinary students use to remember them (which involves an unfortunate young lady named Beth). He briefly discussed the derivative ‘small sauces,’ as you would expect. He mentioned Escoffier, as one usually must. He offered lots of practical sauce-making advice. But besides all of that, he also offered some more philosophical observations from his nearly 20 years in cooking. Continue reading →
“I don’t serve chicken or salmon at Bibou,” says Chef Pierre Calmels of his tiny jewel of a restaurant on 8th Street. “I want to challenge my guests a bit more, and if I put those on my menu, people will probably order them. Then all the other interesting dishes I’ve prepared will be left over, un-eaten and un-tried. The closest I’ll go is game birds, or maybe a rooster, and possibly some arctic char.”
This very excellent policy leaves room on the menu for plenty of fish dishes: two in the winter, three in the summer. Clearly, Chef Calmels loves fish, his favorites being fresh anchovies and sardines, in that order, and oily, silvery blue beauties like mackerel—sure signs of a fish lover. Every morning he heads down to Samuels & Son to select his catch personally, rather than
ordering by phone: “That way, if I don’t like the look of something, I don’t have to take it; I just pick something better. It’s worth 45 minutes of my day to go there personally to get the best product.” Continue reading →
There are plenty of reasons to eat: hunger, taste, comfort, aesthetic experience, to be social, to celebrate, or maybe even out of anxiety or compulsion, but the one reason we often forget about is the simplest of all — NUTRITION! We eat to give our bodies and minds the energy and nutrients they need to function and renew themselves. That’s what chef, nutritionist, and registered dietician Katie Cavuto Boyle is all about — nutrition, and how to get it into you. Continue reading →
“What do you call a chef who only knows how to cook with four ingredients…?”
“A PASTRY chef!” (Ha ha! Ba dum, ching! Ahem…)
But seriously, it’s amazing how many different directions you can take a few simple ingredients, and nobody knows this better than pastry chefs. How do they get such stunning results, such fineness and variety, with just sugar, eggs, butter, flour and a few other odds and ends? The answer, I’d say, is “technique.” While all cooking requires some kind of technique, pastry is really, truly about technique.
During her COOK Masters class, Chef Christina Diekewicz from Barclay Prime taught us how to make meringues and buttercreams, and she had lots of advice about other subjects, too — like how to tell if your croissant has nasty shortening in it instead of delicious butter, the virtues of color emulsion gels (in comparison to liquid food coloring), and how to fill your pastry bag without looking like a dirty shoemaker — but I think her real lesson was about the importance of technique in cooking. Continue reading →
For the past few wintry weeks, I’ve been reminiscing about my mom’s home cooking. Coming from an Israeli/European/Jewish home, I yearn for a rather specific variety of comfort food–one that is hard to find around this area. So when I found out that COOK owner Audrey Claire Taichman was going to be one of the judges at an all-kosher Jewish cooking competition I was very excited. It was as if someone had heard my prayers and decided to create this event with the sole purpose of satisfying my own personal hunger.
I joined Audrey for the January 23rd Bubby’s Cook Off officially to document the event so that you (our trusty followers) could get a glimpse of what went down….but let’s be honest, I went for the food.
If you’re a Fooboozer, you already know that Guillermo Pernot of Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar took first place at the cook with a hummus shawarma with a tangy lemon sauce, but there were plenty more flavors to this event and 5 other talented chefs that attended who you don’t see cooking together on just any occasion:
• Jean-Marie Lacroix of Brûlée Catering
• Mike Deganis of Alla Spina
• Jayson Grossberg of Cescaphe
• Shane Cash of Rat’s Restaurant
• Yehuda Sichel of Citron & Rose
Competition was stiff, which made the judges’ job difficult! So without further ado, here are some magic moments. Enjoy!