This past Sunday marked the second Abbey’s Kitchen Stadium at Mod Club. Last month, my counterpart Adam checked out the first one and after reading his write up, I decided I wanted to attend the second one myself. Well, in reality I knew I had Sunday Funday planned with my bestie @SamMillarTO (we had fourth row tickets to the Beyonce show), so I figured hitting this fun party up in the daytime would be a great way to start!
And it was, as Ms. Abbey Sharp struck again. First I will say that this girl knows her food. While her first kitchen stadium included the likes of Matt Pettit (Rock Lobster), Matt Basile (Fidel Gastro/Lisa Marie), Rocco Agostino (Pizzeria Libretto) and Bruce Woods (Woods), the second set of smackdown chefs included another four noteworthy culinary stars. So let’s see how these competitors did with this month’s secret ingredient: McClure’s Dill Pickles.
As I walked in, the smell was intoxicating and the first thing I saw were beautiful meatballs simmering in a huge pot – well hello there Chef Rodney Bowers of Hey, Meatball, nice to see you (and your balls) here. I did not venture into a meatball sandwich as they were not small and I knew there was more to eat. However, a friend we ran into did and her eyes grew bigger with every bite until she had inhaled it. Her first words after eating it were, “I wasn’t going to finish it but it was too damn good!”
Next up were the two Mexican kings (check our their Instagram feeds – @Andres_Tequila and @fondalola – and get hungry) who served a tostada de tinga and a quesadilla nopales (this was a crowd favourite). Heard both of these were also very tasty but given my recent Mexican intake, I was saving myself for the next competitor: Chef Jesse Vallins from The Saint. He was serving a fabulous heirloom carrot and dill soup that had my tastebuds dancing as well as a dill brine braised bacon sandwich with Russian dressing. Damn – now that was good. The bacon was thick, juicy and paired with the sauce and soft bread, it was a joy to bite into.
Last, we tried the new kid on the block, Chef Peter Ramsay of Geraldine who will be opening in the place of the well-known and missed Cowbell. He was serving a fried smelt sandwich on a housemade bun with coleslaw, pickled shallots, pickle puffs and pickle brine caviar. This sandwich had fantastic flavours and left you wanting more. My only complaint was the bread was very heavy so I ended up leaving it and eating the deliciousness inside.
Judges included Trish Magwood (Food Network, Celebrity Cookbook Author), Mike Chalut (Proud FM, TV Actor), Vita Chambers (pop star recording artist of hit song “Fix You”) and Maggie McKeown (Food Network Judge) and all the proceeds were going to My Food My Way, an organization that aims to proliferate healthy relationships with the “culture of food” amongst up-and-coming generations via initiatives like the Recipe Lab Innovation Project and the Urban Farming Innovation Project.
So who won? Mr. Meatball himself. When I heard that, I immediately regretted not making some room in my ever growing belly for a man that can put dill pickles in a meatball sandwich and have everyone salivating for more.
Good job Abbey – we look forward to the next one!