The Brooklyn Cheese Experiment – I am still feeling my whey…

Man o Man,

I am still recovering from The Brooklyn Cheese Experiment. I cannot believe I was jealous of Nick when I saw that beer in his hand and it was only 12:15. I asked him, “Dude where did you get that?” (despite the fact that we were standing next to a bar with two bartenders behind it). That is how it all started at The Brooklyn Cheese Experiment, the premier food sport event of the United States, quite possibly the world. If I am exaggerating, please prove me wrong.

Within an hour of asking Nick about his beer, I was already two into my day, and I was telling the cheftestants to, “Get your shit together!” Can we be serious for a moment?  I love the chefs, really, they are the great part of these events. I relate to these people who are willing to toil and sweat in their kitchen determined to make a great dish, win the adulation of the audience, take home the prizes, and achieve COOK OFF GLORY…

Sadly, not everyone can win. Nick and I first decided to do these events because we wanted to make the chefs feel appreciated. We were so happy to get the chefs their own bucket of free beers, top that with free vodka drinks, and melt on top of that a table filled with 20 pounds of cheese. Frankly, I am getting a little nauseous just thinking about it. Because by the time the event was over, I had no idea how many drinks I had. That is how you know that you have had too much to drink.

Nick and I drove to the event discussing the possible winners from the entry form submissions. It’s funny how what is on paper is ever so slightly (or vastly ) different from reality. As we pull up to The Bell House, it finally hit me.  I finally got excited. It is a great feeling to know that 350 people are about to show up ready to have a good time. From that point on, time started to move quickly.

When we entered the Bell House, Will (the General Manager) is on the machine that lifts him to the ceiling so he can change light bulbs, and all of sudden I am distracted by the desire to have one of those machines. Focus. Time started to race, the video cameras got set up, photos start to be taken, the chefs started to show up, some were late (some were very fucking late). My sweet girlfriend arrived, and all was right with the world.

My girlfriend looked fresh as a daisy in her new, “Beat Me or Eat Me” t-shirt available for ONLY $15.  Get yours today, they’re going fast.  Why wasn’t Nick wearing his? I think I need to make him a t-shirt with a tie clip on it.

Anyway, the event started to gain some traction once the judges began to arrive. This crop of judges was so friendly and nice. Andrew Knowlton was curious to know if the contestants were versed in proper food handling. I tried to reassure him that our chefs have only the finest sensibilities. I believed that to be true until… I saw a finger used as a spatula.  No need to name names here, but for the love of god – use utensils to spread out your food people!

Back to the story at hand, I watched as the judges patiently sifted through the dishes to pick their favorites. They chose Bonnie Suarez’s cold tomato ricotta soup with cheese cracker for first place. The soup was fantastic, and my personal favorite. One day, I look forward to competing against her. I think I could take her. I am scared just writing that sentence. You do not talk smack to Bonnie Suarez if you hope to survive to see another day.

Then came ‘The Walk’. This is where Will, Nick, and I try everyone’s dish to determine the scope of the contest and pick our favorite. It is one of the highlights of the event, as we all have too much fun. We chose Alyssa Lees’ puff with Blue Cheese and Fig. It was tougher than you think to pick just one.  We only have one prize to give, but there were honorable mentions:

  • Anu Ogirala’s Indian Delight
  • Frankie Celenza’s Vespa,
  • Cathy Erway’s Homemade Ricotta,
  • David and Karol’s Mini Burgers

You all deserve jars of Peck’s Paté, not yet available for retail sale (but soon god dammit).

Next, everyone on stage for the Miss America moment. I like this part. I get to speak on the mike in front of an audience who has been softened by beer for over three hours. I always hope this will make me sound funnier. People complain that I go on forever on stage, but I have to thank the sponsors. How do you think we get such great prizes?  Well, the audience voted and they chose a very enthusiastic team for first place: Righteous Burn. They made an Asian inspired shaved beef cheese steak served atop a toast mini Eggo waffle. I thought there dish was great, but I told them next time: make your own waffles…no Eggos ever again! I am such a hard ass, but I am trying to make you better. I hurt you because I love you.

Anyway, the after party was a blur of free cheese, butter, and vodka. Sounds just like college in Vermont minus the copious amounts of weed. It looked as if cheese exploded all over the front room, a yellow sock of love. Did everyone have some of the cloth bound cheddar cheese? Awesome! I hope all the contestants enjoyed themselves.

In a moment of pure joy, afterwards, my girlfriend and I joined Nick and the other Suarezes for a lazy susan meal of Chinese food at Lucky Eight. I love Lucky Eight. I have been going for years and apparently Nick’s family goes as well. It is so nice to go with people who eat meat (no offense to my favorite herbivore). Papa Suarez ordered two of everything as if we just came out of the desert, and of course we ate as if we just came out of the desert. I cannot think of a moment where I have ever turned down Chinese food. After eating and drinking all afternoon, this meal was a lot for my system. I had a shut down. I had to drive home with the windows down low.

I’ll post photos  soon, but for now you can find some on all these recaps:

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1 Response to “The Brooklyn Cheese Experiment – I am still feeling my whey…”


  1. 1 Danielle DeVito September 24, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Howdy!! Just wanted to say I had a great time at the event. I was there to take some photos for Bier Magazine and the energy was just amazing!! The chefs were all so happy, excited, and inventive. I look forward to more of your experiments!! Please contact me if you are ever looking for a photographer. If you would like to see any pics from the event – give me a shout!!


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