When Audrey Taichman wants something, she gets it.
Taichman, owner of Audrey Claire and Twenty Manning on the same block of 20th Street near Rittenhouse Square, wanted the restaurant community to come together last September to help the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe. And she did it, roping encouraging dozens of restaurateurs and chefs to throw Feastival, which was one heck of a party at a warehouse in Northern Liberties that raised hundreds of thousands for the performing arts. (The next Feastival will be Sept. 14 at Pier 9. Details here.)
Emboldened by her success, Taichman turned her attention to a back-burnered project that would showcase local chefs, putting them closer to the public than ever.
She had seen Stir in Boston, a demo kitchen and cookbook store that draws food lovers from all over New England. Then the spot just up the block at the next corner, which had housed Salt and Snackbar, became available. She took a breath, secured financing, and started work on Cook, outfitting it with modern equipment and furnishings. She also picked up Philadelphia Magazine as a sponsor, and acquired the services of Jackie Baik and Lily Cope, two bright, young foodies, to set it up and run it.
Taichman envisions Cook as a lab, a meeting place, a demo kitchen, a bookstore, a boutique, with a diverse set of programming: cookbook authors, beer heads, cheese heads, canning experts. The chefs and hosts are donating their time.
It premieres the day after Labor Day with a sold-out event by Georges Perrier. The calendar (see it here) picks up with a night of Israeli cuisine with Michael Solomonov on Sept. 10 (which I will host), a night of chocolate with John + Kira (Sept. 12), Asian small plates with Michael Schulson (Sept. 16), an intriguing Sunday afternoon (Sept. 18) with Marisa McClellan of the superb foodinjars blog, and a pizza lesson from Shane Solomon of Pizzeria Stella (Sept. 19).
The classes -- pretty much running $70 to $125 a head, including tip and drinks -- are filling up, Taichman reports.