It’s not a restaurant, per se, though you will likely end up having some amazing dishes. Nor is it, despite the suggestive name, a cooking class, though you do receive many of the recipes for the meal.
So what exactly is COOK, the small, window-filled, yet blinds-drawn space at the corner of 20th and South Rittenhouse? Essentially, it’s a kitchen-classroom featuring demonstrations by some of the city’s best chefs. Instead of having to serve full restaurants, the chefs are cooking private meals for 16-20 “students”. For attendees, one of the biggest draws is to be able to interact with the chefs, as they tell the stories and reasoning behind the dishes.
Curiosity (and rave reviews from friends who’ve been) finally convinced me to give COOK a try. What better way to experience COOK than to pay homage to my Filipino heritage with “A Filipino Feast With Lou Boquila of Audrey Claire, Hosted by Drew Lazor?” The night was certainly one to remember. Here’s the recap of exactly what goes on at COOK.
I believe it was Marie Antoinette who once said, “Let them eat Tastykakes.” Or maybe that was just the Marie Antoinette impersonator during the Storming of the Bastille re-enactment during Philly’s Bastille Day celebrations of years past. Regardless of whoever said the quote, we should heed the advice.
Tastykake, of course, is a Philly original, serving wonderful baked products for close to 100 years. Sure, it merged out of necessity with Flower Foods, Inc., but that doesn’t mean it changed any of its recipes to its krimpets, kakes and pies. And one of the best things about Tastykake products is that you can incoporate them into other foods, such as milkshakes, ice cream and blended alcohol drinks. Thanks to the good folks at The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (Visit Philly) and Foodspotting, I had the opportunity to take part in an “Eat Up” tour of various Tastykake-inspired dishes throughout the city.
On a perfect weather night last October, the first ever Night Market in Philadelphia took place in the Passyunk Avenue neighborhood. With the combination of good weather, terrific participating local restaurants and the city’s most popular food trucks and other street food vendors, the Night Market was an unbridled success. Tons of people walked around a great neighborhood and sampled many wonderful eats.
The second edition took place this Thursday night, in a special Philly Beer Week edition. Moving on to a different neighborhood, Night Market was held at a large parking lot on 39th and Market. Not quite the same as Passyunk Avenue and having a little bit of the feel of attending a church-sponsored fair in my youth, but that’s neither here nor there. Despite the oppressive 90 degree heat, droves of people still came out (at least until the much-needed rain fell around 8 p.m.).
Playing off the success of the fall’s edition, this effort featured large does of taco trucks and other mobile vendors though, in contrast to the first one because of the location, not much in the way of establsihed neighborhood restaurant stands. The big hits were the Philly debut of Nomad Pizza, which makes handmade Neapolitan-style pizza in its mobile brick oven (at a reasonable $9-10), taco trucks (Honest Tom, Guapos Tacos and Chris Taco Stand all had huge lines), and beverage stands (Made in the Shade Lemonade and the Blockley Beer Garden had big business thanks to the weather). What was not as as hot? Hub Bub coffee didn’t exactly have people waiting, and the multiple cupcake trucks (Sweetbox Cupcakes, Jimmies and Sugar Philly) may have oversaturated the cupcake market.
Overall, the second Night Market was a good event, especially considering the weather, but it definitely was a notch down from the success of the fall event. There were a lot of attendees, but some of the lines were insane. It’s a great idea, similar to the likes of the Rittenhouse Row Festival and other neighborhood fairs. In addition to taking place in actual real neighborhoods (maybe Chinatown, Headhouse Square, etc.), perhaps it actually needs more high quality vendors (and beer stands) to alleviate the lines.