May 15, 2011

The Food Experiments Comes to Philly Beer Week

There is nothing better than the local community coming together to share in their passion for food. We were excited to learn about a very cool event coming up during Philly Beer Week called The Philadelphia Cheese Experiment.
Theo Peck and Nick Suarez

The event is the ingenious idea of competitive food cooks-turned-hosts, Nick Saurez and Theo Peck. Bobby Flay Throwdown watchers might remember Nick when he took down Flay in an epic hot dog throwdown.

Nick and Theo launched The Food Experiments several years ago in Brooklyn, NY, and since then have been the talk of the neighborhood. They are now on a national tour sponsored by The Brooklyn Brewery and will stop at the World Café Live on June 5th for a local competition – with cheese as the main ingredient.

I recently spoke with Theo about The Food Experiments and their upcoming Philadelphia Cheese Experiment. In a true testament to their passion, our phone conversation occurred one early morning while Nick and Theo were actually driving around Washington D.C. preparing for the D.C. Taco Experiment. Here is what I learned.

Where did The Food Experiments idea come from?
Nick and Theo were both competitive cooks with numerous wins (Theo is known as the Casserole King) when they decided to bring the competition to the masses and invite home chefs to show how they can do more than simply follow Rachael Ray cookbooks.

What differentiates The Food Experiments?
They’re all about showcasing the local community and the grassroots passion/hard work of food lovers, bloggers and others to create a food party. Each neighborhood and city has its own take on food and that’s what they want to highlight. The Food Experiments Tour involves all local amateur chefs, has local sponsors, and gives a portion of the proceeds to a local charity.

What was the most memorable Food Experiment dish?
Without a doubt the fried foie gras twinkie, Theo told me. It didn’t work out quite as expected, but the dish speaks to the competitors’ creativity and willingness to take risks. The same cook has competed in several competitions and won with other dishes.


What do they expect from the Philly Food Experiment?
At the Philly event competitors can make any food dish they want, but the key ingredient has to be cheese. Nick and Theo have learned to expect the unexpected. At their first cheese experiment they anticipated everyone would make a variation of mac n' cheese. Dead wrong. People are too passionate about their creations and take crazy risks you would never expect, from cheese sliders to cheese flavored ice cream. Cooks really put themselves on the line and are in it for the fun, which is great to see.

Any advice for competitors?
Theo said to remember that the judges only get a small bite of your creation. This makes seasoning important as that one bite needs to stand out among the rest. They have seen great concepts lose because there was not enough salt or seasoning. Play to palate of one bite!

What’s the connection to Philly Beer Week?
Nick and Theo both love craft beers and believe nothing is better than a beer and cheese pairing, especially during Philly Beer Week. Brooklyn Brewery is a major sponsor of The Food Experiments Tour, as it’s trying to become more of a regional brand. They are a huge part of the Brooklyn community, offering tours and nightly events, and are now reaching out to a larger audience. All the taps at the World Café will be serving Brooklyn brews during the Philly Experiment.

Quick, fascinating story: Brooklyn Brewery makes a beer called Black Ops. It is aged in bourbon barrels and brewed in the cover of darkness. The rumor, according to Theo, is that either the Pentagon or the White House made a special order to send members of the Seal Team Six as a reward for vanquishing Osama bin Laden.

What are they looking forward to eating while in Philly?
Sandwiches, not cheesesteaks. Nick and Theo both know that Philly is a sandwich mecca and want to try the best of best. Sounds like they need to join our Sandwich Quest. They are asking for suggestions for their Friday food crawl before the Experiment. Tell us what you suggest and we will let them know.

Will the Phillies take the World Series this year?
Theo is a Mets fan so I had to ask what he thinks of the Phils. He kindly says good luck. The Mets are hopeless this year.

Here are more details on The Philadelphia Food Experiment. They’re still signing up cooks so reach out if you think you have a winning cheese dish.

When: Sunday June 5th, 2011 from 12:00 – 4:00.

Who: Anyone – first come first served, limited to 20-25 cooks. Sign-up here.

Where: World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St.

Tickets: $10 in advance, $15 day of event. Click here to buy tickets.

Judges:
Tony Luke, Owner of Tony Luke's
Emilio Mignucci, DiBruno Bros.
Maria Valetta, Wine Specialist/Educator and Freelance Writer

Prizes:
$50 gift card from Whole Foods for all cooks. Winner gets a paid trip to compete at the Food Experiments All-Stars Competition in Brooklyn in September.

Watch a short video about the Food Experiments at http://vimeo.com/7529495.

3 comments:

steve said...

This sounds like a fun way to showcase amatuer chefs. My one question is, does the contestants have to supply their own food?

Bradd said...

Yes, you have to provide your own food, but they provide supplies like a sterno and chafing dish. Theo said they do their best to lessen the burden on the cooks, which is why every participant gets a $50 gift card to Whole Foods.

More details for chefs on their FAQ page: http://thefoodexperiments.com/faq/

jen @ one curly fry said...

This should be such a neat event - I'm definitely looking forward to it!