The stakes are high at Square 1682’s fifth anniversary block party Sunday. Actually, it’s the steaks: The Hotel Palomar restaurant is hosting High Steaks! The Great Philly Cheesesteak and Cocktail Competition, with top Philly chefs cooking it out to make some not-so-traditional, elevated cheesesteaks. And don’t feel bad about gorging all day — proceeds go to Philabundance.
Bartender Chauncey Scates, named one of Zagat’s 30 Under 30 in Philadelphia, will run the craft cocktail competition. Victory Brewing will provide the beer.
So what makes a winning cheesesteak? We asked three chefs taking part in High Steaks!, including host Caitlin Mateo.
Caitlin Mateo,Square 1682
“Plain and simple, you need great ingredients, starting with the bread. You need a roll that is soft and spongy to suck up the juice of the meat and the whiz or other topping, but strong enough to support all those ingredients as well. You need to have quality ingredients and not be afraid of getting a little creative. Last time around for Cheesesteak Challenge, we did a braised goat cheese steak with a goat cheese sauce, and it was so delicious.
“This year, I’m looking forward to getting creative with some nontraditional ingredients and more hearty flavors that complement this time of year — but all of the key components will be included.”
AlexBoonphaya,Circles andTuk Tuk Real
“For me, a great cheesesteak contains moist, well-seasoned meat paired with flavorful cheese (sharp provolone or American) and caramelized onions, tucked into crusty bread that’s crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. I need all those elements to fall in love with a cheesesteak.
“If one part is missing, the whole creation is flawed and I’m not happy.”
RobertSurdam,Red Owl Tavern
“What makes an excellent cheesesteak for me is taking a classic and amping it with superior ingredients. That’s what we do at Red Owl Tavern. We use a really good shaved rib eye, and then top it with caramelized onions and a nice Cabot cheddar.
“We add a touch of heat to engage the full palate with some roasted long hots. They give nice balance and it’s just delicious.”
Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
Between 16th and 17th streets on Sansom St., outside Hotel Palomar’s Square 1682
$40 in advance, $45 at the door