Chefs need to get away sometimes, too. But that necessarily doesn't mean they take a break from cooking.
Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer
Last weekend we were invited to stay a gratis night at Skytop Lodge,
an old-school Poconos resort a little over two hours away from Philly. The occasion? The resort's Philly Chef's Weekend
, featuring David Katz
, Michael Solomonov
and Peter Woolsey
of Bistrot La Minette
. Skytop and its executive chef, Stevan Sundberg
, have run this three-day event during which Philly-based chefs do cooking demos, run a cocktail reception and add dishes onto the resort's regular dinner menu for some time now. It provided an opportunity for this tight threesome, all of whom own the restaurants where they cook, to get the hell out of Dodge for a few days, as well as to promote their respective spots to an out-of-town crowd.
When we told people we were headed to Skytop, we were met with two distinct schools of referential description: "That place is totally Dirty Dancing
!" and "That place is totally The Shining
!" We weren't sure how we felt about either this is a mini-vacation, I don't need the tough-but-fair Dr. Houseman
harshing my buzz, bro but were relieved to discover it's a damn fine place. Open since the 1920s, the 2,500-acre resort has its own golf course, pools, biking/hiking trails and lakefront, plus the proper amenities for unorthodox activities such as lawn bowling and clay pigeon blasting. (For what it's worth, Katz is kinda ill with the double-barrel shotgun. Keep it in mind, Yelpers!)
It was hot as hell, but we still adhered to the old-school jackets-required policy for dinner, which kicked off with an outdoor cocktail reception Katz, Solo and Woolsey each prepared little finger foods (goat cheese/balsamic/watermelon
bites, spiced lamb tartare and chive-studded salmon rillettes, respectively) for the occasion and chatted up resort guests about their restaurants. Then it was onto dinner, during which the Skytop kitchen staff plated up additions to the menu designed by the trio Solo put together a clever toad in the hole situation with shrimp and morel mushrooms; Woolsey served seared scallops over a classic, straight-ahead piperade; and Katz went old-school with it, with a filet entrÃ©e accompanied by green beans, fried oysters and a twice-baked potato.
In between spending QT with their wives and kids, watching World Cup, catching drinks and debating hypothetical bigwig chef death matches ("Boulud or Ducasse?"), Katz, Solo and Woolsey all expressed that the were amped to get out of their kitchens for a spell it's events like this, and the upcoming Zahav Jersey Shore dinner
that all three are participating in, that provide a low-key respite from the fire and knives that tend to populate their every waking professional moment. This became especially clear during our exit caravan from Skytop, which involved us getting kind of lost (totally our fault)
making pitstops at a Polish grocery store and a kitsch-as-hell barbecue spot. The crew loaded up on candy and pastries and various meat products, tore it all apart with the quickness and provided pointed opinions about everything, mouths full all the while. Chefs they're just like us.