Friday, October 19, 2012

High Steaks: Square 1682's 3rd Annual Cheesesteak Challenge

Square 1682 hosted the Third Annual “Cheesesteak Challenge: High Steaks” block party on a sunny Sunday afternoon on October 14. The chef showdown saluted Philadelphia’s signature dish while benefiting local public schools through Philadelphia Academies. This culinary competition featured three hours of unlimited cheesesteaks from 12 gourmet beef-griddlers, Smartwater and Victory Brewing Company libations, and Eagles game-airing TVs so attendees wouldn’t miss a touchdown. Who doesn’t love a deliciously spirited event that benefits Philadelphia’s public school students, fosters community, and celebrates culinary excellence?

Check out the masterpiece contenders below:

Square 1682's Chef de Cuisine Caitlin Mateo created this aged “double goat cheesesteak” with peppers, onions, and house whiz on a soft roll.

Chifa’s Chef de Cuisine Natalie Maranski interpreted her cheesesteak as an item you could find on a dim sum cart. The core of braised beef cheek marinated in Victory Brewing Company’s Storm King Stout gained extra flavor from Spanish Idiazabal cheese. Wrapped in taro dough and fried, the balls were served with a sriracha onion sauce.

Chef David Boyle from Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse brought his infamous cheesesteak spring rolls. (Check out Penn Appetit's interview with him!)

Red Owl Tavern's Pot Pie came from the mastermind of Executive Chef Guillermo Tellez; the flaky crust housed a stew of beef, carrots, peas, and onions.

University City-based chef Wayne Whiteside from Aksum Mediterranean Kitchen introduced this vegan-friendly “steak” composed of grilled seitan soaked in red pepper ketchup.

R2L’s chef Daniel Stern also took the spring roll approach. Instead of beef, however, he stuffed them with calamari and shrimp.

Hailing from Baltimore, MD, B&O American Brasserie’s chef Thomas Dunklin came all the way out to Philadelphia to share his cheesesteak rendition. A caramelized onion roll injected with beer and cheddar served as the base; a thick slice of brisket rested on top, while a lone slice of pickled pepper completed the morsel.

The expert judge’s panel consisted of local culinary personalities, media folks and Philadelphia notables, including WMMR’s on-air personality and producer Matt Cord, legendary cheesesteak wizard Tony Luke, Kristina Jenkins from Where Magazine, Marlie Hall of PHL-17, and The Great Philly Cheesesteak Book author Carolyn Wyman. Live music entertained the massive crowds.

Guests also got to munch on Philly Pretzel Factory pretzels and Krispy Kreme donuts. All proceeds went to Philadelphia Academies, a program dedicated to expanding life and economic options through career-focused learning, college readiness supports, and positive adult networks to prepare young people for success in college and in careers. Under the current leadership of Lisa Johnson Nutter, serves 4,500 youth in Philadelphia public high schools each year through 10 career academy programs in 16 Philadelphia public high schools. The career academy model was founded in Philadelphia in 1969 and has since been replicated in more than 2,500 schools nationwide.


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