Jan. 23 was the date for the first annual Bubby's Cook-Off, a kosher cooking competition that pitted six of the region's best chefs, including James Beard award-winners Jean Marie LaCroix of Brulee Catering and Guillermo Pernot, of Cuba Libre, against one another as they vied to create the dish that would appeal most to celebrity judges Hope Cohen (of the cooking show, In the Fretz Kitchen), Audrey Claire Taichman (of the Center City restaurants Audrey Claire and Twenty Manning), Nancy Glass (of the eponymous production company) and Stephanie Stahl (CBS 3).
Held at Vie, on North Broad Street, The Cook-Off raised money for Friendship Circle, the nonprofit organization that pairs up special-needs children with teenage mentors. The event was attended by 300 people, including Ruben Amaro, Jr., the general manager of the Phillies. Amaro, a childhood friend of Chabad Lubavitch of Bucks County's Rabbi Yehuda Shemtov, received the organization's Champion of Friendship Award.
Despite strong entries from chefs like Yehuda Sichel (Citron and Rose), Mike Deganis (Alla Spina) and Shane Cash (Rat's Restaurant), Pernot emerged the winner of the contest, thanks to his entry of hummus kawarma with lemony sauce. Made with sous vide-cooked lamb neck, this was Petrnot's first foray into kosher cuisine. "I love the Mediterranean style of cooking," Pernot said. "People were expecting brisket or matzah ball soup — I wanted to get completely away from that, to learn and try something different." If you missed the event, you can still get an idea of Pernot's chutzpah with hummus: He has a version made with black beans and served with malanga chips on the menu at Cuba Libre.