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Ommegang Hop Chef Smack Talk: “Why I Will Win”

By Danya Henninger  |  July 1, 2014

Beer pairs well with food. This might have been news 10 years ago, or even five, but these days most people in Philadelphia recognize that brew + food = delicious. The question then becomes, how far can you take the pairing?

For the third year, Belgian-style specialist Brewery Ommegang is hosting a cook-off to discover fantastic ways to combine beer and food. On Tuesday, July 8, nine Philly chefs will vie to be the winner of the local contest and continue on to Cooperstown, NY, to rep Philadelphia in the national finals.

In addition to sipping suds after a mouthful of meat, ales will be used in cooking, brew flavor profiles will  be emulated, and hops and malts will become ingredients. You can sample everything the brewchefs create with a $50 ticket (here) to the 6 PM event at Union Transfer. You’ll also get to watch Fox 29’s Mike Jerrick emcee as the chefs present their work on stage to a panel of judges that includes Top Chef winner Nicholas Elmi.

In 2012, George Sabatino took top honors. Last year it was Nick Macri. Who’s going to walk away with this year’s Hop Chef Philly title? We asked each of the contestants to tell us in one sentence why they’re going to win with their chosen label.

  • Townsend Wentz (Townsend)

    Ommegang Beer Chosen: Gnomegang
    Why I Will Win: “Because my creation is a collaboration of a collaboration. It's virtually inside its own head, if food were to have a head.”

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Chad Vetter (City Tap House)

    Ommegang Beer Chosen: Three Philosophers
    Why I Will Win: “At City Tap House, we always approach beer as cuisine. With respect to the other chefs, I do this everyday.”

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Travis Masar (Sampan, Independence Beer Garden)

    Ommegang Beer Chosen: Hennepin
    Why I Will Win: “I am just here to cook some awesome food that intrigues and satisfies while taking a different approach to Hennepin.” (Ed note: upon further inquiry, we discovered this tidbit: “Unfortunately I have no idea how to smack talk, it’s never been my strong suit.”)

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    James Kennegott (Strangelove’s)

    Ommegang Beer Chosen: Hennepin
    Why I Will Win: "I'm taking a different approach than everyone else. It's going to be a game changer for Hop Chef."

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Ben Puchowitz (Cheu Noodle Bar)

    Ommegang Beer Chosen: Rare VOS
    Why I Will Win: “Rare VOS pairs surprisingly well with Asian flavor profiles.”

  • Credit: Mark Henninger

    Jeremy Nolen (Brauhaus Schmitz)

    Ommegang Beer Chosen: Witte
    Why I Will Win: “Being the chef of a German restaurant, my experience cooking with wheat beer will help me win.”

  • Jennifer Choplin (Dock Street Brewing Co.)

    Ommegang Beer Chosen: Abbey Ale
    Why I Will Win: “Not only am I incorporating the beer itself into braising and confiting my meats and making the sauce, I am also using its flavor profiles in various other elements of the dish.”

  • Jonathan and Justin Petruce (Petruce et al.)

    Ommegang Beer Chosen: Hop House
    Why We Will Win: “Because the other contestants smell bad.”