Posted by Jason Sheehan on September 9th, 2011
On Tuesday, Cook (the collaborative kitchen, classroom and experimental food lab from Audrey Claire Taichman) had its unofficial opening night–a kind of friends-and-family, pre-sold, not-exactly-open-to-the-public event which featured Georges Perrier behind the bright and shiny-new Wolf range, cooking and chatting and generally just being his charming, French-y self. I didn’t go to this event, but did call the next morning to see how things went–wanting to make sure that the place hadn’t caught fire (looking at you, Spread Bagelry), that no SWAT teams had been called, that there hadn’t been a last-minute decision to just junk the whole cooking school idea and turn the place into a sushi bar. On an opening night, that’s really all I expect of a new operation: Don’t catch fire, don’t perform any kind of panicky conceptual U-turns and don’t make the 11 o’clock news in any way that would involve a police captain being interviewed and saying something like, “At this point, we don’t even know how many hostages are inside…” I’ve been through enough restaurant openings in my time to know that no one should really ask for anything more than that. If you make it through the night with no sirens, that should be considered a smashing victory.
Wednesday was a down day at 20th and Rittenhouse. A recovery day. And then came Thursday–the official first night of business, which also happened to be the sold-out Foobooz/Philly mag/Philadelphia Distilling Gin-o-Rama. The real-world version of the Gin Universe guide we did a couple weeks back. And I was there for that, right from the start. Honestly, I’m still recovering today.
Click through the jump for a wrap-up of the opening night festivities and a Foobooz exclusive sneak-preview of Cook’s October schedule…
6 courses, 6 classic gin cocktails, cooking demos, mixology demos, lessons on gin distilling and the histories of various spirits and cocktails–a full night. Everyone arrived hungry and sober, left 3 hours later stuffed and tipsy. And it was a blast–a cross between a well-attended cocktail party (all full of talk and food and booze and laughter) and the best day of school ever. Chef Lou Boquilla (exec at Cook, c-de-c at Audrey Claire) did a full spread of plates that paired with gin–no easy task. There were oysters with Bluecoat gin mignonette, marinated Maine lobster, Arctic char house-cured with gin botanicals, coriander and juniper-roasted veal loin with seared foie gras and a fig-and-juniper compote, a citrus-infused olive oil cake with sweet vermouth creme. And the bar crew from Twenty Manning did us proud with their jumped-up versions of the Tom Collins, the Aviation, the Vesper, the Journalist, a Prosecco-topped Verona and martinis with lemongrass and ginger-infused Bluecoat that maybe shouldn’t have been the last drink served before sending everyone out into the night. They were killers, those martinis–like tiny buckets of gin poured down the necks of all in attendance.
The night went off without a hitch, plagued only by the constant stream of neighbors pressing their noses up against Cook’s windows (and one guy who actually walked in, sat down and asked for a dinner menu); everyone wondering just what was going on inside and how they could play along, too.
For those of you out there wondering the same, I would direct you to the September schedule (currently online) which has a few spaces still available for classes later in the month. I would warn you in advance to clear September 20th on your calendar for a special Foobooz and Philly mag surprise that we’re cooking up for that night. And I would advise you to start planning ahead because, right now, I get to offer you a preview of what’s coming up in October at Cook. Tickets won’t go on sale until Monday, but because you’re here and because you’re awesome, you get first look. Don’t you feel lucky?
Things start on Saturday, October 1 at noon with the first of Cook’s kid’s classes: bread and pizza-making with Samantha Carrie Johnson from Terra 2 Table. Liz Begosh from Betty’s Speakeasy comes in the next afternoon to teach a class on making fudge, and then Pierre Calmels from Bibou does a class on (what else?) classic French cuisine on the 3rd. In the next week, Patrick Feury will be talking about pickles, Gianluca Demontis of Melograno will be teaching a Pasta 101 class and Moon Krapugthong of Chabaa Thai Bistro in Manayunk will be doing Thai food.
After that? How ’bout Chris Allen from Lotus Farm to Table doing a beak-to-tail chicken class, Tom McCusker from Honest Tom’s giving away the family secrets in a taco (and margarita) demo, a Basics of Sausage Making class with Nick Macri from Southwark, a night in Catalonia wine tasting with Michael McCaulley from Tria or “Lobster Mania” with Ben Puchowitz from Matyson–a second chance at one of the most popular theme nights the restaurant does.
Not bad, I know. And I haven’t even mentioned the Japanese knife sharpening class, the “Night With A Master” featuring Jean-Marie Lacroix (which, from what I understand, has already been bought out in its entirety by someone who, apparently, really digs Lacroix) or the Halloween party on the 31st being thrown by Ian Moroney and Christopher Kearse from Pumpkin (natch).
The full schedule is below. And it’ll be up online at the Cook website come Monday.
And don’t forget what I said about September 20th. We’ll reveal the details early next week, but I can promise you that it’ll be a night you won’t want to miss.
Cook October Schedule:
Saturday, October 1, 12:00PM
Cooking Classes for Kids with Samantha Carrie Johnson of Terra 2 Table: BREAD
Sunday, October 2, 3:00PM
Fudge Making 101 with Liz Begosh of Betty’s Speakeasy
Monday, October 3
Classic French Cooking with Pierre Calmels of Bibou
Tuesday, October 4
Pickle Me This with Patrick Feury of Nectar
Wednesday, October 5
Pasta 101 with Gianluca Demontis of Melograno
Sunday, October 9, 2:00pm
Bubby’s Apple Cake with Louise “Bubby” Taichman and Susie Taichman-Robins
Monday, October 10
Thai One On with Moon Krapugthong of Chabaa Thai Bistro
Tuesday, October 11
Waste Not: Making Use of the Whole Bird with Christopher Allen of Lotus Farm To Table
Wednesday, October 12
A Sweet and Savory Union with winner of TLC’s Cake Boss, Dana Herbert
Friday, October 14
11:00AM: Challah Making with Bonnie Eisner
7:00PM: HONEST TOM’S TACO SHOP with Tom McCusker
Saturday, October 15
11:00AM: Basic Knife Skills with Tim Mcginnis
4:00PM: Authentic Italian Tomato Sauces with Joan D’Antonio
Sunday, October 16, 3:00PM
STARR SERIES: Perfectly Pumpkin Desserts with Adriana King of Jones
Monday, October 17
Basics of Sausage Making with Nick Macri of Southwark
Wednesday, October 19
Lobster Mania with Ben Puchowitz of Matyson
Thursday, October 20
A Night in Catalonia with Michael McCaulley of Tria
Friday, October 21
Drinking and Diving with Brian McManus and Tim Mcginnis
Saturday, October 22, 12:00PM
Creating a Gluten-free Brunch Menu with the Gluten-free Warrior, Genevieve Sherrow
Sunday, October 23, 2:00PM
JAPANESE KNIFE SHARPENING With Kevin Yanaga of Zama
Tuesday, October 25
Cooking Like A Jewish Grandmother with Ali Waks of Delicatessen – Part Of COOK’s Gershman Y Cooking Series
Wednesday, October 26
An Evening with a Master Featuring Jean-Marie Lacroix
Saturday, October 29, 12:00PM
Cooking Classes for Kids with Samantha Carrie Johnson of Terra 2 Table: Desserts
Cooking with Tea Featuring Alexis Siemons of Teaspoons & Petals
Sunday October 30, 3:00PM
Cheese Monger’s Basics and Beer Pairing with DiBruno Bros.
Monday, October 31
Halloween Party with Ian Moroney and Christopher Kearse of Pumpkin
Cook [Official website]
September schedule [Cook--October's schedule will be live on Monday]
- Cook’s April Schedule: A Sneak Preview
- Sneak Preview: May At Cook
- Sneak Preview: COOK’s November Schedule
- 11th Hour Update From Cook: Valentine’s Day With Jen Carroll
- Sneak Preview: September At Cook
- Cook Gets Ready For A Launch
- Sneak Preview: January Schedule at Cook
- Sneak Preview: July at Cook
- Sneak Preview: Cook Goes Live