The craft beer and competitive cooking worlds are male-dominated. It's typical to see nothing but guys' names on some of our favorite food-related events — which puts added pressure on Jennifer Choplin.
Choplin, who recently took over the kitchen at Dock Street Brewery, is the first woman to participate in Ommegang's annual Hop Chef competition, a multi-city battle that challenges chefs to create one dish that perfectly incorporates and complements an Ommegang brew. This is the third year Philly is getting into the action; the winner from each city moves on the the total showdown on Aug. 8 and 9 at Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York.
"It's slightly overwhelming," says Choplin, keeping her cool but admitting it's a nail-biting affair. She'll go up against James Kenngott of Strangelove's, Travis Masar of Sampan and the upcoming Independence Beer Garden, Jeremy Nolen of Brauhaus Schmitz, Ben Puchowitz of Cheu Noodle Bar, Chad Vetter of City Tap House, Townsend Wentz of Townsend, and the brother team of Jonathan and Justin Petruce, of Petruce et al.
"The more I research the other competitors, the more intimidating it becomes,” she says. “But then it just makes me more and more determined to win.”
Tweet it out
Hop Chef contestants are encouraged by Ommegang to blow up their Twitter feeds with trash talk against the opponents. But it turns out that is easier said than done.
"We're all kind of friends, and we're all really busy," Choplin says of her opponents. "The Petruce Twitter account has tried to trash talk," she adds, sounding less than impressed with their efforts — which might be her own form of dissing the competition.
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