Philly food is so much more than cheesesteaks. Let us show you.
Wednesday morning, I was useless. I slogged into work and didn’t even feel like a human person until about three hours after I got there. It was a terrible day in which I could barely function due to lack of sleep, but it was all worth it. Why? Because the Great Chefs Event was the night before, and we had had a phenomenal time.
For its 11th year, the Great Chefs Event once again took over URBN in the Navy Yard, packing in hundreds of attendees there to support Alex’s Lemonade Stand (and support they did—a four-item live auction netter over $50K, and there were a ton of silent auction items). Also there to support the cause were a slew of chefs—celebrity or otherwise—who were turning out some top-notch food.
There was, for instance, the dafina oxtail with crispy chickpeas, harissa, and yogurt from Timon Balloo of Sugarcane Raw Bar and Grill, a tender bite of meat in a spicy sauce that hit all the brain’s pleasure points. There were also smoked bluefish sliders from Michael Cimarusti of Connie & Ted’s, winning one of our favorite bites of the night (an award usually reserved for pork-based dishes). And the seven spice beef brisket with white BBQ sauce and snow pea slaw from David Chang of Momofuku? Another fall-apart-on-the-fork slice of meat with a wonderfully piquant sauce to drag it through.
The food and drink was seemingly endless, with lamb and fish featured much more heavily this year than in previous years, when pork is always the king of the show. The celebrity chefs were also out in force, with the likes of Robert Irvine, Bobby Flay, John Besh, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Marc Murphy all donating their time for the cause. Also donating his time to the afterparty was 80s rap sensation Biz Markie, who DJ’d in place of local favorite Questlove this year, and did an admirable job keeping people dancing well into the night (one of the reasons Wednesday morning was so hard).
Once again, everything came together to put on the perfect night: the venue is always airy and beautiful, the chefs—celebrity or not—put out amazing food, and the drinks folks always have top shelf offerings (Tom Peters of Monk’s Café always teams with Russian River and this year brought bottles of Supplication and Pliny the Elder).
The event is expensive, yes, but well worth it for the sheer level of quality food, and for the sheer level of help the event does for Alex’s Lemonade Stand—which makes the food simply a bonus when you look at the big picture.