The High Steaks Challenge will decide who serves best cheesesteak

Consider this a warning to all of your other Sunday plans: Center City will smell like cheesesteaks, lots of cheesesteaks, starting at noon. At the High Steaks Cheesesteak Challenge — an annual high-calorie block party outside Square 1682 — local chefs will represent their respective stomping grounds with their takes on the city’s most famous sandwich. We caught up with Caitlin Mateo, chef de cuisine at Square 1682, for a preview.

So what’s our deal? Why do you think Philadelphians are so obsessed with cheesesteaks?

Philadelphians are very passionate about everything that is Philadelphia — cheesesteaks, Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, Philadelphia beer and the Mummers.

Tell us about the best cheesesteak you ever had.

The best was with my husband the first time we ate Talk of the Town cheesesteaks together. We constantly crave them, and from time to time walk down to their shop to get some.

There are 11 participating chefs. Whose cheesesteak are you most excited to try?

I’m excited to try everybody’s because I know there will be lots of variations and concoctions.

After this event, will you be avoiding cheesesteaks for a while?

I’m sure that I won’t be avoiding cheesesteaks, but I may have to eat salads for a week to avoid feeling guilty.

Outside of cheesesteaks, where are you eating, drinking or adventuring on your day off?

I just ate at Will BYOB for my birthday, and it was fantastic. We’re always adventuring outside, but with the cold weather on its way we are going to have to get creative. We haven’t been to the Barnes yet, so that’s next on the list!

If you go

Square 1682 (121 S. 17th St.) is hosting the Cheesesteak Challenge block party on Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. All proceeds from the $25 entrance fee — which scores you steaks from each chef — benefit Philadelphia Academies, which helps to prepare Philadelphia public high school students for college and careers.

On the roster

In addition to Mateo, here’s who’s manning the grills Sunday:

Daniel Stern


Nick Farina

Verdad Restaurant & Tequila Bar

David Boyle

Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse

Wayne Whiteside

Aksum Mediterranean Kitchen

Natalie Maranski


John Brandt-Lee


Thomas Dunklin

B&O American Brasserie

Joe Hunt

Alfa American Tavern

Paul Trowbridge

Devil’s Den

Guillermo Tellez

Red Owl Tavern

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