With Great Food, Comes Great Beer

by Nicholas Rummell
April 2012

Additional Information

What: Ommegang's first ever Hop Chef Competition

When: Saturday, April 28, 2012, 1pm to 4pm

Where: Atlas Theater
1333 H Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002

How Much: $75

For more information visit Brown Paper Tickets.

Wine lovers, you are officially on notice—beer is now taken seriously as a complement to great food. The battle lines have been drawn, and the clarion call raised, by New York Brewery Ommegang, which wants to share the new paradigm of food and beverage pairing. In today's restaurants, food is often (and excellently) paired with great beer.

2011 Ommegang Mussel Tussle competition 2011 Ommegang Mussel Tussle competition

More than 200 tasters are expected to attend the first-ever Hop Chef challenge, which will be held April 28 at the Atlas Theater in Washington, DC. It will feature seven area chefs—including 2003 Rising Star Chef Jamie Leeds of Hank’s Oyster Bar and 2010 Rising Star Chef Nicholas Stefanelli of Bibiana Osteria Enoteca—cooking two dishes each, to be paired with Ommegang Belgian-style ales.

2011 Ommegang Mussel Tussle competition 2011 Ommegang Mussel Tussle competition

Eight star tasters will sample the hoppy goods and choose the winner. Among them are 2010 Rising Star Beer Sommelier Greg Engert, beer director at Birch and Barley, 2006 Rising Star Chef Bart Vandaele, and Washington Post Deputy Food Editor Bonnie Benwick.

Wine may get all the press when it comes to great pairings, but Ommegang is trying to change that: the event is part of the brewer’s “Great Beer Deserves Great Food” initiative to give beer a step off the conciliation prize pedestal and into the gold medal area. A slew of tastings nationwide will culminate in the Grand Hop Chef cook-off at Ommegang’s Cooperstown festival in August. The winning chef will then be invited to a final North East Cook-off competition, in which he or she will face off against the winners from similar competitions in Albany and Philadelphia. Last year's finalists competed in the Mussel Tussle, in which chefs prepared mussel dishes to be paired with Ommegang beer.

Tickets can be purchased here, or you can learn more about the event here.