Tag Archives: restaurants

Philly Chili Bowl 2015 Judges!

We are so thrilled to have this group of expert judges for the 6th Annual Philly Chili Bowl!  Get to know the judges who will crown the 2015 Philly Bowl winner!!

Noord_Joncarl

Joncarl Lachman,
Chef/Owner, NOORD eetcafe

After years of following his passions for travel (33 countries) and linguistics (4 languages), Joncarl Lachman turned to settling down and achieving a life long goal of restaurant ownership.

A graduate of New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education, Lachman was the winner of the inauguaral “San Pelligrino Almost Famous Chef” Award in 2002. He has worked under the tutelage of Nora Pouillon (Washington DC “Restaurant Nora”) and in NYC, Anne Rosenzweig (of Arcadia and Lobster Club) who remains a trusted friend and mentor.

In 2005 he opened HB Home Bistro, a Michelin Ranked New American Restaurant in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. In 2010, he  opened his second restaurant Vincent, where he was able to express his love for his Dutch heritage and serve modern takes on the cuisines of Amsterdam.

Returning to his hometown of Philadelphia has always been in the plans. In late spring of 2013 he opened NOORD eetcafe, an homage to classic Northern European bistrofare with an extensive smoked fish program.

Next up is a new bar/bistro in the Italian Market. Stay tuned!

Drew2013 Drew Lazor,
Freelance Food & Drink writer

Moving into his six year of judging both the Philly Chili Bowl and Wing King, Drew is one of our most beloved judges!

A native Marylander based in Philly, Drew Lazor covers food, drink, movies and music locally and nationally contributing to local food reads such as Serious Eats, City Paper, Philadelphia InquirerPhiladelphia Daily News, Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler and recently Lucky Peach Magazine.

Most recently, Drew was a contributor for the hot new German cookbook, New German Cooking, released along with Philly chef, Jeremy Nolan of Brauhaus Schmitz! Grab a copy! It’s a beautiful book, and interestingly, the most recent German cookbook released in years!

Welcome back Drew!

Pepito

Roberta Pipito Blogger, HomemadeDelish.com

Roberta Pipito is a home chef, food, beer and wine connoisseur, and blogger. Her lifelong passion for cooking led her to create her blog in 2011. The name “Homemade Delish” seemed fitting for this Philadelphia wife and mother of two who takes pride in being the daughter of a professional baker.

Coming from a long line of family cooks in Brazil and descendants of Italy, she enjoy the science behind food as well as the taste.  Being able to speak Portuguese and English has allowed Roberta to step over an ethnic line for a wider audience; and range of creativity. Homemade Delish displays some of her recipes, her love for wine, beer and photography, and covers a variety of events. With creativity and imagination, you can style anything to your taste.”

Rosa's Fresh Pizza owner Mason Wartman, a former Wall Street equity researcher, makes a pizza in Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaMason Wartman,
Owner, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza

Mason Wartman, once a Wall Street stock researcher, found his calling of starting his own business after feeling like his job had plateaued.

He moved to Philly and opened Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, named after his mother. Using the simple buck-a-slice business model, he simultaneously also launched a pay-it-forward program.

Mason Wartman, insures that for each piece of pizza purchased at Rosa’s, one slice is donated to the homeless. So if you buy a pie (8 slices/$8) Rosa’s will sit 8 slices on the counter for homeless members of our community, sometimes 40 a day, to walk in and pick up a slice at no cost! The concept of paying for others’ pizza ahead of time started when a customer wanted to buy a slice for someone in need and wrote it on a a post-it note. Today, post-it notes cover the walls inside the shop from patrons wishing those in need some words of encouragement.

BigBite Philly is proud to support this forward-thinking mission and will be donation a portion of the Philly Chili Bowl proceeds to Rosa’s.

ZavalaJennifer Zavala,
Top Chef alumn, Chef of Cherrybomb Bus, and host of Scrapple Internet TV

A chef hat is not the only hat Jennifer Zavala, former Bravo’s Top Chef alumn, wears.  Jen dabbles in many things – all with one common theme – food. She has worked in several notable Latin-driven restaurants and gastropubs in Philly before launching her own food truck, CherryBomb Bus.

Jen has also been part of several local and unique food events including Hen’s Revenge, a female-focused industry night, pop-ups at Garage Philly (with food-themes like “Roseanne”), and most recently will be working on the High-End Cuisine TV show on Scrapple internet TV, an online TV show which Jen is also a host for.

Note: Scrapple TV will be at Philly Chili Bowl taping live!


12 Days of Wing King: Day 8: Varga Bar

Varga Bar
941 Spruce St.
(215) 627-5200
$11.50/order

BigBite has been a fan of duck confit since our resident judge Drew Lazor brought his fancy-pants cassoulet to our potluck bean swap a couple years ago. So when we heard of Varga Bar’s Duck Confit Wings, we were there immediately!

The texture of these wings was soft and tender – like the looks of those pinup girls on their walls – with that FOB (falling off the bone) factor that we like. Not much tearing of the meat was necessary as soon as you put a wing in your mouth. The meat removes itself and all that is left is a clean chicken bone. With its juicy, FOB succulence, you could tell that Varga slow cooks these bad boys girls for hours –unless they simply use magic.

The pomegranate molasses-bourbon-chili sauce had a sweet yet subtle vinegary taste, and complemented well with the house-made bleu cheese dip. We, however, wish that the sauce was a tad thicker – like the pinup girls on their walls – to adhere itself to the super tender meat.

We gave these wings 4 BigBite Bites = “Simply Wing-tastic” on the 12 DAYS OF WING KING rating system.

varga

before

20130823_193935

after all the meat fell off the bone


12 Days of Wing King: Day 1: North Third

North Third
801 N. 3rd St., Philadelphia, PA 19123
(215) 413-3666
Price: $7.00 for 1lb, $14 for 2lbs

These wings are by far one of our favorite wings in the city. North 3rd, a gastropub and sister bar to Silk City, is also a staple in the Northern Liberties area. It is never a let-down for brunch, lunch, dinner, drinks or whatever other shenanigans your may be into. Notably, the wings that they pump out here by the pound are consistent, plump, and packed with flavor. Choices are the North 3rd Famous (which are a spicy buffalo style wing) or the Thai Chili Glazed with peanuts. As seen below, we are rating the Thai Chili Glazed wing and all its glory.  This wing does not disappoint. The skin is nicely crisped and the wings are large and meaty. The subtle sweetness and hint of spice of the Thai Chili marry perfectly with the crunch of the peanut sprinkled over the wings. The portion size is also a perk – a pound of these wings will fill you up, but will keep you yearning for more.

We give North 3rd Thai Chili Glazed wings 5 BigBite Bites because they are “Mind BloWING”.
N.3rdUse


4th Annual Philly Chili Bowl Judge: Angela Ranalli

Angela Ranalli
Pastry Chef, Le Virtu Restaurant

Ranalli

Pastry Chef, Angela Ranalli has been making Italian sweets since a very young age. As a child Angela helped her mother prepare traditional Italian cookies, cannoli, and breads, rolling each out and decorating each one by hand. Accompanied by her even younger siblings, she traveled weekly with her mother to the coast to sell their wares at local markets and festivals. The weekend sales eventually evolved into her mother, Linda, opening her own Italian restaurant and catering business in New Jersey, where the entire family worked side by side in the kitchen.

Raised in a household where three generations of Italians lived together under one roof, the old ways of Italy survived and were passed down to the youngest generation. Her family has a strong mystical background, given they came from the region of Abruzzo, where legends and superstitions abound, even to this day. These ancient beliefs have strong ties to food and farming, therefore the most auspicious time to seed or harvest plants, get married, have a baby, etc. were calculated according to phase of the moon and stars. This carried over naturally into cooking. Pane di Pasqua, (Easter Bread) was only made on Easter Sunday. It is said that it will not rise or bake the right way on another day out of the year. Polenta is always made at the first snowfall to welcome the spirit of winter, and so forth.

As an adult, Angela attended culinary school in Philadelphia, PA, and worked under French Pastry Chef Michel Gras, in Cape May, NJ specializing in wedding cakes. Later, returning to Philadelphia, she took over the pastry program for Water Works Restaurant. She also continued to further her studies in the ancient art of astrology and Italian folklore. She has traveled abroad extensively, and has lived in Italy off and on over the past 13 years. Now bridging the past, present, and future through her desserts as pastry chef at Abruzzese restaurant “Le Virtu” in Philadelphia, the sultry chef puts a modern spin on rustic dishes oftentimes incorporating ingredients known to be aphrodisiacs, but which are also indigenous to the region of Abruzzo. Check out this CHOCOLATE RAVIOLI she created and showed off on NBC’s In the Kitchen:

We cannot express how excited we are to have Pastry Chef Angela Ranalli on the judges’ panel! With a strong mystical background, we hope to hear her predictions on how the 4th Annual Philly Chili Bowl will go!


4th Annual Philly Chili Bowl Judge: Jason Cichonski

JASON CICHONSKI
Chef and Owner, Ela Restaurant 
Cichonski

Chef Jason Cichonski is Philadelphia’s brightest rising star chefs.  His artful American restaurant,  Ela (627 South 3rd Street) is located in Queen Village, and is amazing!  Ela’s menu changes frequently throughout the year, to reflect the season’s finest ingredients and Chef Cichonski’s creative, boundary-pushing presentations.  Ela has garnered praise and a “Three Bells: Excellent” review by Craig LaBan.

Jason Cichonski served as executive chef of Lacroix at the Rittenhouse Hotel when he was just 24 years old.  Lacroix was one of the city’s only “Four Bells: Superior” fine dining restaurants at the time. Jason’s cooking quickly impressed many peers and food enthusiast alike.  Before his success at Lacroix, Chef Cichonski worked in other highly praised kitchens, including the Pluckemin Inn in Bedminster, NJ and Moonlight, a progressive American restaurant in New Hope, PA.

Born and raised in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County, Chef Cichonski is a graduate of University City’s The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College.

Today, he resides in Philadelphia & can nearly always be found in the kitchen at Ela…but not on March 9th! Chef Cichonski will be joining us for the first time on the judge’s panel as he takes on 25 types of chilis.


Bite This!: Ken Shin – Hot Sea Roll

After watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi, my stomach reminded me of how much it longs for a good sushi sit-down feast. Although I haven’t made it to my feast just yet, I picked up the phone and called for my favorite sushi roll in the area: The Ken Shin, Asian Diner’s Hot Sea Roll.

Ok, I know. When you hear Asian + Diner, you can get a little skeptical. What can an Asian diner possibly sell? Well, just like an American diner you can find a smorgasbord of delicious Thai, Korean, Chinese Japanese and Vietnamese varieties, all jam packed into one awesome menu! To me that sounds way better than your typical American diner fare.

Stop in to Ken Shin and start with the Hot Sea Roll, a simple Spicy Salmon and Avocado Roll topped with a nicely peppered and flavorful seared tuna. I know it’s just one roll, but DAMN, it’s a good one. Other favorites are the tiger roll, Pad Thai, Pan Seared Udon, the Chicken Pho (I know – weird, but also a good one), and the long list of bubble teas (Tara is the preferred here).

Don’t be fooled by the cheesy nightclub feel, Ken Shin is about its food. This is a great Asian Fusion off-beat spot in the booming neighborhood of Northern Liberties. Get to it people!

Ken Shin Asian Diner
301 Spring Garden Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
215.925.8887

-Ryllis