Friday, March 12, 2010

JNFuture: SHANKS FOR THE MEMORY, I won't be eating Wings for awhile.

The Wing Bowl may have been 3 weeks ago, but last night the Jewish National Fund crowned two wing-eating champions at the 2nd Annual "Shank Bowl" at Finnegan's wake. You may recall that "The Hungry, Hungry Jew" Adam Taxin was to compete in the Annual Wing Bowl at the Wachovia Center, but at the last minute pulled out because of religious dietary concerns; he's kosher and the wings were not. Last night not a problem as the wings were provided by Max and David's Kosher Restaurant in Elkins Park, Pa. and as the reigning champion it was his duty to defend his title.

Our hosts were Rachel Baum and Joel Frisch of the JNF (Jewish National Fund), flanking my girl Hadas Kuznits and the MC of the night (Not pictured for no good reason Marlo & Mike R.)
The contestants and their entourages parade thru the crowd
and celebrate the night with great expectations on them being crowned 2010 Shank Bowl Champion.

The competition was fierce. The men would go 3 - 5 minute rounds eating the most wings.
The women 1 round for 5 minutes. Here are a few of them prepping for the big contest. I forgot my notepad so these name cards aren't going to to me any good, but the pixs tell a thousand words. (Is that Natalie Portman in the T white shirt?)
and a few minutes later
The crowd cheered wildly for their favorite contestant, most were close friends, roommates and almost all of them were separated by no more than 2 degrees of attending the same summer camp, or friends who went to that camp.
Amy Liever is roommates with two of the girls competing in the competition. With her on her left is Kim Racicot and Clare Herlihy, Marketing dept of Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia (Thanks Clare for reading PCC)
Cuties, applying for the amazing race. Abby Feiner, Allison freedman. Abby is my #1 fan she tells me, thanks:)
Also in the crowd was Gregg Kravitz, who is the only democratic challenger against Babette Josephs. Gregg main campaign is to create effectiveness, drive an agenda, something he says Babette hasn't done. Isn't it time for improvement? With him is Leah Greenspoon and Phila Film Festival's Jared Miller. Who tells me that next week the Phila Films Society will release the lists of films coming to the 3 Day Pennsylvania Hospital Sponsored festival 4/9 - 4/12
Radio host Adam Taxin, who is the reigning champ defending his title.Hadas with some of the contestants.
The Rabbi counts on both hands the number of children he has that added with 6 would be the total. Octo Rabbi.
And they're off. What's really amazing here is that it seems that no one has dropped any of the chicken sauce on their shirts. My shirt would be splattered and yearning for a wash, and I definitely don't rush thru my meals like these boys just did.
Contestants are eliminated after each round for having the lowest number of KOSHER wings consumed. Almost the entire bottom row or peeps are gone, and on the top rowwhat no more Adam Taxin, what happened? I thought he would fight for his reign. He's gonna give up all those appearances that come with the title, as well as the money prize which I think was $200
Then it's over and we rest and the judges begin to count,
making sure 85% of the wing meat is consumed. (YUCK)
I go out to visit one of the sponsors. You know I am supposed to be Philly's Cupcake expert and I have never had a Buttercream one before (my results will be another day)
Former contestant and not a winner Erika Myer and Paige Levin
and the winner is
Ben Jablonski who ate 66 wings in 15 minutes, he receives congratulation and $90 from Venmo which he texted to him two his phone. Very Cool.
Congratulations Mr and Miss Shank Wing Bowl 2010 - Ben Jablonski tells me this is his lucky hat as he wore it when he climb Mt Everett. He's a real adventurous girls, he just got back from the Philippines where he went cliff diving. Ben, resides in Manhattan and is the JNFuture Founder and National Chair, w/JNF’s national and global initiatives. Ben tells me that he was listening to Bad Romance and then "Eye of the Tiger" for the last two minutes on the IPod for inspiration.
Most of the contestants posed for a group shot at the end of the night. The missing folks may well be in the bathroom throwing up or sprawled out on the floor.

Sorry I didn't get to all the posts I that you are probably waiting for; as for the WMGK Comfort Food event last Thursday, the winner was finally published in the paper, but MK didn't use the photo, so I am no free to go ahead with that. I don't always have to wait, but something that includes a winner I would probably wait on, I wouldn't want to do the entry w/o that info. Also will post Oscar viewing event Monday. So that will be two again. Also I have restaurant news I want to post, so maybe over the weekend and I will Tweet it. Too many events, I just need to catch up, whew. have a great weekend. Hughe

Thursday, March 11, 2010


The Art of the Steal, a timely film, unique to the Philadelphia area (here are the Showtimes in Philly). I didn't have the opportunity to see it, but I did cover the after party.

Here are three excited people involved in the film, which is about The Barnes Foundation moving to the City, and it's neighbors in Merion who fought to keep it there, and respect Alfred Barnes Will.

Sheena Joyce, Producer "Art of the Steal", Lisa Schwartz, EVP, IFC Films and Director Don ArgottMary Heine, Ross Mitchell and Jill Govberg. Ross was one of the neighbors that appeared in the film.
Joan Bressler and Michael Lopatin
Now some of them worry what will become of the empty Barnes facility, most hope it will remain as a teaching facility, or worse it become dorms for St. Joe's College?

"Real Clear Arts" by Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
Can This Documentary Save The Barnes? A Sneak Peak. The countdown begins: On Feb. 26, The Art of the Steal -- Don Argott's documentary about the struggle for the control of the Barnes Foundation -- opens in theaters (two days after it can be seen on demand) in New York and Philadelphia.

The Cool Kids: Reggie Berry and Jackim "Jackey" Wright; these two are keeping it cool at Strongbox every Tuesday night. Their party is so successful they run a list, and you either have to know them, or be well connected to pass thru the doors as it's standing room only every week. Bottle Service available by reservation and they go quickly.Andrew Greenblatt and guest. Andrew is director of the The Philadelphia Film Society which is preparing for the Presentation of the Philadelphia Film Festival Spring Preview, Presented by Pennsylvania Hospital: 3-Day Free Preview Event Will Take Place April 9 – April 11 at the Prince Music Theater
Attorney's Justin Wineburgh and Allison Binder. Justin is spending the remaing chilly winter days in Florida, but looks forward to returning to Philly in a few weeks. So jealous. Allison runs her practice in Beverly Hill, Ca and has her hands in many of the projects that end up on the big screen, so jealous. She reads PhillyChitChat to keep up to date with the going ons in our fair town, thanks:)
Michael and Joanne Fitzgerald
“The Tangled Case of the Barnes Foundation and Its Art Treasures: Don Argott…Talks About his New Film,” by Eric Kohn in Speakeasy, an arts blog from The Wall St. Journal

500 DEGREES restaurant TAKES BURGERS TO ANOTHER LEVEL in Philadelphia



A new burger place is opening in our neighborhood. It's own by Rouge, undoubtedly the best burger place in the City. But you don't have to spend $16 for their burger as they are opening a mini-burger place. Burger, Fries & a soda for under $9


The first 100 people will be given a free burger of their choice starting at 11AM. After that, until 3pm, bring a friend and split the bill with a buy-1-get-1.

From 5-7pm enjoy free soda and fries with the purchase of any burger. And then finally, from 11pm until their yet-undetermined closing time, enjoy free fries with any purchase.

1504 Sansom Street

ORIGINAL POST: Yesterday (3/4/10) I was invited to a tasting at Rouge for the new burger restaurant 500º which will be located at 1504 Sansom. The time 9:00AM. No corn flakes for me today.

The Menu, easy, simplistic, easy to read, easy to order.
For many of you who follow me on Twitter you know I am a burger guy, love my burgers, love my buns and love my fries and more or less do a burger tour of the City monthly. A few weeks back I went to Rouge for my first burger there. Kim Genkin, Neff Associates follows me on Twitter (IPhillyChitChat), mentioned it to the folks in the know and well they agreed along with Rob Wasserman that I should come to the 500º tasting and give them input about all things burger. Other folks invited were friends, regulars, David Neff & company, Michael Klein and staff, Who could turn down an invite for burgers for breakfast as well as be the first one on the block to take a bite, yum. OK it was a bit crazy, but I was so excited to see how these behind closed door tastings play out.
500º is a joint love affair of Rob and his wife Maggie Wasserman, as well as their staff including Chef Matt Zagorski and his team who will be running the operation. Most of the details were already ironed out, packaging perfected, but feedback was essential and included taste, texture and appearance.

Also the Wasserman's filled us in on the inspiration for their baby 500º. Mostly I heard stories of their favorite memories while growing up where burgers were simple and tasty; fries and shakes completed the meal.

But Rob and Maggie aren't just anyone, they are the owners of Rouge, the iconic restaurant on Rittenhouse Square, where the who, who's dine, young and old mix, tourist and celebrities hob knob. So as much as they might not want to call this the little Rouge Burger, it certainly has that pizazz of uniqueness, quality and good taste.
Chef Matt Zagorski explains to the early morning crowd the 5 temperatures of preparation, as well as the quality of meat, stressing it's not the kinda burger you'd find at a fast food place, it's think and doesn't fall apart.

Below is his team who will be running the operations at 1504 Sansom Street. (about 1 block from where I work, scary.) Samantha Cruz, Joseph Cairnes and 12 yr long employee/GM Robert Pearce. (Who I knew in another lifetime.)
At 500º, chef Matt Zagorski the 5½ ounces of beef, will be served on a Challah roll from Wild Flour Bakery, which will deliver twice a day. (here we have the Classic $5.75 and the Cheese Burger $5.25. The plain burger is not here, but that's $4.75, and the 500º is $5.75. (My suggestion was to make it $6 'cause it was the signature burger, but Rob & Maggie said no way, it's more about the affordability then gauging customers for another $.25 ). (Some folks were suggesting a flashing neon light "Fresh Rolls Just Delivered" paying homage to "Krispy Cream Donuts." That didn't fly either.)Fun features of ordering your burger include what kind of pickles you want. Rob remembers going to camp as a kid and enjoying the Bread & Butter Pickles and that's what he likes with his burger, but he's going to give you an alternative to, The Kosher Pickle; that's what I like. (Michael Klein likes the Bread & Butter ones.)

Also two dipping sauces for your burger or fries, I never asked, I suggest it's for both my table mate nixes it. The top fiery orange one is great for head colds and sinus problems, it's jalapeno something. Not so good for first thing in the morning. The second sauce much nicer, mayonnaise, Worcestershire and tasty. Both of these sauces as well as the ketchup and mustard will be in SQUEEZE BOTTLES, and that was emphasized. I imagine as a kid Rob did not like pump bottles or perhaps he's been to Geno's where they get all clogged up if not cleaned on a regular basis.
Another favorite childhood delectable was Bassetts' Ice Cream, Rob's favorite. So when you order your shake know it's Bassetts. Three flavors

Chocolate, Vanilla and Black & White, $5 for 22 oz. Oh and the pop drinks 22oz, self serve (so just tell them you're getting the tax free diet soda and save $.2 an oz, but this is only an opinion so don't subpoena me when you are arrested for evading taxes.) My pick is always a chocolate shake, but some days I like vanilla, today I had the Black & White.
Fries Plain, (There will be no cheese fries, unless a child comes in crying and the mom says he can't live without them. )
Spicy and Truffle, but this is not their packaging. The packaging was well thought out, clever and practical. (WOW on the spicy, even more so than Popeye's)
Again think simplicity, mobility, and biodegradable. It's true 500 is going for the green, not completely, but notable. No more plastic trays, all orders will be in this handy white paper bag for portability to your destination. Now originally Rob was thinking drink in bag, but a few folks groaned at the idea and the drink tray was conceived for 2 or more orders. Now that's productive feedback at a tasting.
Fries will be served in this attractive bag, who's weight escapes me, but small was not in his vocabulary. Also they will be sealed, and any grease will be contained inside and not soak thru to your pants.
One of the best ideas in packaging has to be this very sturdy brown wrapping for the burgers. Doesn't crumple, doesn't soak up the juices, and actually works for me since I will be spending many a day eating these burgers at the park, although they will have 23 seats inside the restaurant so that's an option too. Decor rustic, relaxed and laid back I hear.
Hours can I tell you about hours? When IHop opened, they used to close at Midnite. I said to the manager you are practically the only restaurant in this corridor of 12th & Walnut, you have to stay open later and it will pay off. I went back and now if you are seated by 1:30AM you can stay past closing at 2AM. When Philly Cup Cake opened and their hours were 9AM til 6PM, what are you crazy, you have the best cupcakes you have to extend your hours, now they are 8AM til 8PM (What I didn't suggest was they raise their prices, which they did by a dollar, ugh!!)

I didn't have to suggest that to Rob cause he already understands the market.

The hours for 500 are 11AM til 10PM and on FRIDAY AND SATURDAYS TIL 3AM, that is so awesome. Well I'm not out that late anymore if I can help it, but great for some of you late nighters. I foresee lines out the doors so get there right when the club closes.

Enjoying burgers alongside me were smart looking couple Tempa Berish and Eric Robbins, They loved the burgers, thought they were high quality, and look forward to late night noshing. Perfect way to start the day as they headed off to their company Chelsea Partners.
Rob Wasserman and his real estate broker, Steven Gartner, who helped seal the deal with just the right location of 500.
As the 11 o'clock hour approached it was time for me to return to work, lunch hour was over and Neff & Associates needed to finish strategies with Rob and Steven about the 3/23/10 launch. I did offer one last advice, perhaps they could open on 4/1/10 with the slogan "It's No Joke, we're open today!!" They groaned.
With the memory of breakfast still on my mind
I return to the scene of the crime and enjoyed a scrumptious Rouge burger for dinner last nite, I got healthy & had a side of salad instead of fries. (must return to my diet before 500º opens)