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.
Hamilton and Allen, joined by faithful teammates Tom Branighan (far left) and Jake O’Donnel (far right), were greeted by a slightly different Open Stove format now that the monthly series has reached its tin anniversary. The four-course format — amuse bouche, appetizer, entree, dessert, with the middle two courses based around surprise ingredients — remains intact, but dastardly Open Stove mastermind Jason Sheehan threw in an even wackier wrinkle this time around. Dropping a basket filled with random ingredients on the counter, the Philly Mag food editor informed the two cheftestants that they’d have the chance to land extra points if they used any of these wild cards in their cooking. That explains all the scribbled-in +1s you see on the chalkboard above.