Four of the city's hottest chefs took a road trip to Brewery Ommegang as friends. This week, they'll become rivals in a beer-pairing cook-off.
That idea— the chef as winner—is still in its infancy. Ten years ago, as Elmi said, chefs didn’t share ideas, recipes or purveyors. But they also weren’t winners. They weren’t stars like they are today. They were servants, toiling away in kitchens, ruining their knees and backs crouching down into lowboy fridges, burning their arms, their hands, sweating away in the unforgiving heat in front of ovens, slowly roasting their skin in front of the open flame of the stove.
Ten years ago, a chef setting up a kissing booth would’ve been an absurd notion. “Kiss the Cook” was a phrase that worked on aprons because it was funny, not realistic. Now the hard work chefs do—the hard work they’ve always done—is being rewarded. And the public is making up for lost time. They’re showering chefs with attention. Culinary school is now a viable college alternative, not something just dropouts and young men on prison work programs pursue.
Chefs work hard. Very hard. It’s why, when they’re not tied to a stove, pricing out a menu, arguing with a purveyor about the day-old fish they’re selling as fresh, glad-handing with customers, or offering up quotes to the 1,000 new food blogs covering their every move, they play so hard. And every once in a blue moon—no, scratch that: every once in an Ommegang Witte—they are put on a platform, their skills and the hard work they do is rewarded.
Ommegang Hop Chef Competition: Tues., July 10, 7pm. $55. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. 215.222.1400. Info: ommegang.com. Tickets: brownpapertickets.com