I loved everything about COOK, including the opportunity to experience Pumpkin’s starring night, so I felt they each deserved their own post. Check out my Halloween night full of autumn culinary treats from Chef Ian Maroney, his wife Hillary Bor, + their team from Pumpkin!
I’ve done nothing but gush since the rumors of Audrey Claire’s COOK – a studio kitchen hosting cooking classes and chef tastings. The corner space that once housed Snackbar transformed over months into an intimate gathering space to learn, dine, and make new friends. I’ve stalked the class listings since it’s opening in early September, kicking myself over not committing to classes that quickly sold out. Before I knew it, Halloween was rolling around and dressing up just didn’t thrill me this year. You know what did though? The promise of an intriguing meal with Pumpkin at COOK on Halloween night.
After dodging some costumed Rittenhouse youngsters, I was relieved to seek refuge in the comfortable space that is COOK. Lily and Jackie – the unassuming power-duo of cuteness who run the show at Audrey Claire’s COOK – greeted guests, hung coats, and encouraged mingling & exploration like hostesses you’ve known for years. After a quick intro, I explored my seat options among the crisp place settings. The counter seating is like an open bracket commencing a night of gastronomic commentary. Low light kept the seating area ambient while the illuminated kitchen and counter were ready to highlight every angle & hue of the night’s fare. The stage was perfectly set for a intimate dinner among 16 strangers.
I arrived early, not only to lock in some prime seat real estate, but also to indulge a growing hobby of mine – cookbooks. COOK’s library had some personal favorites – my technical bible Larousse Gastronomique; the beautiful imagery of NOMA; my current love affair with Gabrielle Hamilton’s Blood, Bones, & Butter – and plenty others that went right on my Christmas list. I’ll definitely be back to cruise their shelves again, just hope that I can figure out if/when they’re open to the non-class-attending public.
COOK’s retail Pantry is tucked in a nook past the library with more awesome kitchen whatnots. I’ll take one of these beautiful leather knife bags in case you’re feeling generous – either color, I’m not picky.
If you have a friend who calls her/himself a “foodie”, just stop in COOK for the perfect birthday/house-warming/holiday gift. Place a tin of COOK’s own mulling spices with a bottle of full-bodied Cabernet in the center of a tea towel, gather the excess fabric, and tie with kitchen twine. Attach a gift certificate for Twenty Manning, Audrey Claire, or a class at COOK and you’re set!
7 o’clock rolled around and we took our seats, the chefs in final prep mode. Our lovely hostesses kicked things off with a quick ice-breaker – introducing ourselves and sharing our favorite Halloween costume. I had plenty to choose from – Madonna in full blonde wig & cone bra in college, Elvira with a hair bump taller than Snooki herself, and a love affair with my Elmo last year as Cookie Monster-ette.
And then it was on to the food! Pumpkin seriously impressed me with a technical, yet whimsical autumn tasting – an amuse en bouche and 5 beautiful courses. I have to give it up to our hostesses, especially Jackie, for the wine selections, too. I like wine, I just don’t know wine, so these 3 immediately go on my list of bottles to pick up next time I head to a BYO like Pumpkin.
Throughout the meal, Lily & Jackie were fully engaged with the room. They cleared dishes, poured soup & wine, snapped photos for the COOKbook blog, and kept the conversation going as the chefs focused on serving the next course. I’d love to have such an awesome job spending night after night with the city’s best chefs and culinary contributors. They were such great hostesses that they sent us all home with these cute little plants.
So I think this is more than a crush. I LOVE COOK! It was such a fun, educational, indulgent night and I can’t wait to get back there soon. COOK just launched their list of classes for December and they’re already starting to sell out, so make your reservation today.