Ommegang Hop Chef Competition – Philadelphia Recap

Hop Chef Philadelphia consisted of  six of Philadelphia’s most talented chefs competing in  preparing and pairing dishes with Ommegang beers. During the sold out event, each chef prepared two dishes that showcased their imaginative beer and food pairing skills which were then voted on by a panel of judges and event attendees.

The winner was George Sabatino of Stateside for his Smoked Beef Cheek Lettuce Wrap with Ommegang Abbey Dubbel BBQ sauce, watermelon rind pickle and beer boiled peanuts and his dessert Three Philosophers with Head to Tail Cherries.

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The outstanding line-up of competing chefs included:  Joe Cicala of Le VirtùJon Cichon of LaCroix at Rittenhouse HotelJason Cichonski of ElaNicholas Elmi of Rittenhouse Tavern;  George Sabatino of Stateside;  and Scott Schroeder of South Philadelphia Tap Room and American Sardine Bar.

The chefs were 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.

Hop Chef is part of the Ommegang program known as Great Beer Deserves Great Food®, a national initiative dedicated to the idea that fine beer deserves its rightful place at the table with fine foods.  The event was the final in a series of chef’s cook-offs across the U.S., culminating in a Grand Hop Chef cook-off at Ommegang’s Belgium Comes to Cooperstown festival on August 4, 2012, where Chef Sabatino will be representing Philadelphia.

Hop Chefs from left to right:  Nicholas Elmi of Rittenhouse Tavern, Joe Cicala of Le VirtùGeorge Sabatino of StatesideScott Schroeder of South Philadelphia Tap Room and American Sardine Bar (who won the People’s Choice review) Jon Cichon of LaCroix at Rittenhouse Hotel and Jason Cichonski of Ela.

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