Friday, June 10, 2011

Philadelphia Cheese Experiment

This past Sunday, I stopped by World Café Live for an event dedicated to one of my favorite things in the entire world: cheese. To fill you in: the Philadelphia Cheese Experiment is part of an annual series of themed cooking competitions known as The Brooklyn Food Experiments, hosted by chefs Nick Suarez and Theo Peck. Other stops on the Food Experiments tour include Austin, New Orleans, Washington DC, Boston, and lastly, the beautiful NYC borough after which it is named (admittedly, I am a little biased, as it is my hometown). The winners of each contest, who are selected by both the audience and a panel of judges, receive both a cash prize AND the coveted chance to participate in the Brooklyn championship in September. 

This time around, the challenge was to produce a delicious cheese-based dish. That was where the rules ended and the creativity was allowed to flourish.

Unfortunately, by the time I arrived on the scene, swarms of fellow Philadelphia turophiles had already descended upon most of the available samples, but I was able to savor some (read: at least five) absolutely delectable artisanal cheeses from Chester County, PA, as well as an unbelievable grilled cheese on butternut squash bread, complete with a salty strip of bacon in the middle. There was organic coffee. There was Brooklyn Brewery beer. Everyone in attendance walked around with satisfied smiles on their faces, as if they had discovered their culinary happy place. I empathized greatly.

Gorging myself on cheese was amazing, but perhaps one of the most valuable things gained from this experience was the abundance of helpful literature that was made accessible to attendees, particularly the Local Food Guide, presented by Fair Food and Grid magazine. It divulges incredibly useful information about where and how to eat, drink and shop locally. As Philadelphians, we are constantly surrounded by fresh ingredients everywhere we look, and it would be foolish to not take advantage of that. The PDF version of the guide is available on Fair Food's website (

Hoping I can make it up to Brooklyn to watch the Food Experiments championship!

-Laura Johnson

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