On June 9th, over 1200 hungry guests convened on Philadelphia’s Navy Yard for an unforgettable evening. The Great Chefs Event, a night of food and drink dedicated to celebrating the power of good food and raising over $800,000 for the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a world-renowned charity dedicated to fighting childhood cancer, and the Vetri Foundation for Children.
Philadelphia chef and restauranteur Marc Vetri spearheaded the event, inviting dozens of talented chefs from both the US and abroad to come and showcase their favorite dishes.
With everything from butterscotch budinos to fried sweetbreads making appearances on the chefs’ tables, the sheer variety of food available to sample was overwhelming. So without further ado, we offer you a visual taste of some of our favorite bites of the night.
Franca Food and Wine, from Boulder, CO, stuffed bright zucchini blossoms with pats of creamy mozzarella before lightly frying them until crisp.
Chef Alon Shaya‘s Moroccan carrot salad was nothing short of unforgettable. The carrots, caramel-sweet and bathed in an earthy spice blend (cinnamon and coriander, perhaps?) came served atop a dollop of thick, tahini-rich hummus.
The Little Beet (Chef Franklin Becker, from Manhattan) served… you guessed it… little beets. Baby beets to be exact– roasted until sublimely tender and plated with crumbles of rich goat’s milk feta, juicy orange slices, and sprigs of mint and fennel fronds.
Lincoln Restaurant, from Portland, OR, brought a taste of the Pacific Northwest with bright slabs of cured salmon sprinkled with caraway seeds and dill.
Zahav sous chef Beau Friedman joined Chef Mike Solomonov to represent our favorite Israeli haunt, and served us an unforgettable sweetbread schnitzel smeared with a spoonful of bright and peppery zhoug. Bring it back to the menu… pretty please?
The combination of earthy roasted goat and citrusy orange-habanero salsa in Chef Jose Garces‘ tacos de cabrito blew us away. Each taco had a smoky aroma and a certain native kick that we’ve never tasted outside of Mexico. Our only regret? Not having enough stomach space to fit in another one.
Chef Marco Rossi–who came all the way from Bergamo, Italy–brought a true taste of Northern Italian cooking with bowls of soul-warming, teleggio-enriched polenta topped with spicy stewed octopus.
The smoky grilled goat merguez sausage and pungent green muhammara (hidden by the spiced fries) from Chef Tony Maws was another dish that stuck with us.
Our food-nerdiness got the best of us as we walked toward the table for Momofuku Ssam Bar. We sank our teeth into the mouthwateringly tender seven spice brisket ssam, topped with crisp pea shoots and a generous drizzle of “Ssam Sauce”, and marveled at our good fortune.
*Ed Note: I circled back for another one after trying everything else. Wise decision? Maybe not. Worth it? Absolutely*
The Ssam Sauce, which you can buy online
, is a sweetened blend of Korean gochujang
–a fermented chili paste– that hits just the right balance of tangy, sweet, and spicy.
The Slanted Door–all the way from San Francisco–pan fried glistening bundles of gau choi gau, perfectly chewy dumplings stuffed with shrimp and watercress.
Daikaya, a Japanese restaurant from Washington DC, charred creamy avocado halves and filled them with a umami-rich broth of lemon, ponzu, and wasabi, before sprinkling them with nori salt.
Chef Michael Symon prepared a taste of springtime in Cleveland, offering plates filled with creamy polenta topped with ramps and morels.
On our way out the door, La Colombe brewed us the best drip we’ve had in ages and thew in a tumbler of their coffee-scented rum (distilled in Fishtown) for good measure.
Great food, great company, and a great cause. What more could you ask for from The Great Chefs Event?
-Chase Matecun and Sara Schuster