Brewery Ommegang’s second annual Philly Hop Chef, at which six chefs compete for a chance to represent the city in a cook-off at the brewery’s annual Belgium Comes to Cooperstown event, comes off on Tuesday, April 23 at 7 p.m. at Union Transfer, (1026 Spring Garden Street, 215-232-2100).
Details are getting out, and the chefs have taken to social media to brag and talk smack.
Each of the chefs creates one dish to showcase their beer and food pairing skills, based on five principles of pairing. The dishes, all paired with Ommegang beers, are served to a panel of judges and to all attendees; each chef is on hand and gets 15 minutes to describe and defend his dish to the judges.
Tickets are $55 per person, with a portion of proceeds going to support the Mural Arts Program and Groundswell.
The line-up of competing chefs, already engaged in banter on Twitter, includes Yun Fuentes of JG Domestic (@JGDomesticPHL); Lucio Palazzo of La Calaca Feliz (@LaCalacaFeliz); Nick Macri of SouthWark (@Meat_Man_Macri); Pat Szoke of The Industry (@PatSzoke); Eli Kulp of Fork (@EliKulp); and Mike Deganis of Alla Spina (@ChefMikeDeganis).
Each chef has also announced the Ommegang beer that he has chosen for his dish: Rare Vos, a traditional care-style ale that is mellow, fruity and spicy, for Fuentes; Witte, a traditional Belgian-style wheat ale that is soft and hazy, for Palazzo; Hennepin, a hearty and rustic golden ale that is full-bodied, hoppy and crisp, for Macri; Three Philosophers, a blend of Ommegang Quadruple Ale and Liefman’s Kriek cherry lambic, for Szoke; Abbey Ale, a rich, fruity and aromatic Burgundian brew, for Kulp; and BPA, pale and hoppy with notes of citrus and tropical fruits, for Deganis.
The chefs will be judged based on five pairing principles: Simple Pairing, a direct interaction between food and beer; Incorporation, utilizing beer in the cooking process; Mimicking, matching the flavor profile of a dish with the flavor profile of a beer; Story Telling, tracing the history of the dish and the beer; and Experimental, making beer the star of the dish.
Recently, Ommegang confirmed the judges for this year’s Hop Chef: Art Etchells, founder of Foobooz; Caroline Russock, food editor for City Paper; Collin Keefe, editor of Grub Street; Danya Henninger, editor of Zagat’s Philadelphia Blog and Drink Philly; Scott Schroeder, the 2012 Hop Chef People’s Choice winner; Will Blunt of StarChefs.com; and Cory Baldwin, associate digital editor for Saveur.com.
The Hop Chef Competition is part of the Ommegang program known as Great Beer Deserves Great Food, a national initiative. The Philadelphia event is the first in a series of chef’s cook-offs across the U.S., including other semifinals in Boston, Chicago, and Albany, culminating in a Grand Hop Chef cook-off at Ommegang’s Belgium Comes to Cooperstown festival Aug. 2-4 at the brewery.
Tickets are here.