Bromance Dinner at Ela brings creativity

Jason Cichonski and Scott Schroeder collaborated for a Valentine’s Day themed dinner, recognizing the two’s “bromance.”

Jason Cichonski and Scott Schroeder have a bit of a bromance.

Together, they delicately sip their signature chocolate cake milkshake while onlookers stare and snap pictures.

But they don’t mind because it’s all part of their collaboration event, “My Snuggle Bear: A Bromantical Evening with Scott Schroeder and Jason Cichonski” this past Wednesday.

Cichonski, chef of Ela, and Schroeder, chef of American Sardine Bar and South Philly Tap Room, teamed up together to put a twist on traditional Valentine’s Day celebrations. The two met weeks before the event to come up with a completely new menu for an appropriate dinner for the holiday.

They ended up with a four-course tasting menu starting off with warm poached oyster and foie gras with additional courses like black garlic glazed pork cheeks, ending with their signature chocolate cake milkshake.

“We were really focusing on making everything kind of luscious and decadent sort of feeling,” Schroeder said.

“Rich and comforting and very make-you-feel-warm and good,” Cichonski added.

“Like a hug on the inside,” Schroeder said.

Collaborations are definitely not new to the Schroeder and Cichonski, especially with the amount of chefs in Philadelphia who often work together. Back in 2012, Cichonski worked with Shola Olunloyo from StudioKitchen for a modern Japanese collaboration dinner. Schroeder recently teamed up with David Katz to bring back his popular fried chicken from his closed restaurant, Memé.

In fact, this is not the first time that Schroeder and Cichonski have worked together either. Last year, the duo hosted a Whiskey and Waffles brunch, also at Ela, based around its first course – a “Pancakes and Syrup” shot followed by breakfast courses like sausage waffles with foie gras whipped cream, ham powder and smoked maple-whiskey syrup.

Having known each other before Cichonski was a chef, the “bromance” between these two was evident during the interactions made in the kitchen.

Whether it was Cichonski running off his mouth when they couldn’t agree on if a sauce was broken or not, or when Schroeder was making fun at Cichonski’s rather short run on this year’s season of Bravo’s Top Chef, the connection appeared to be there

With Schroeder wearing a Slayer T-shirt and Cichonski banging his head to the rock music playing from a speaker in the kitchen, all the things that these two do aren’t the usual attributes to expect from a couple of the most well-known chefs in the city.

There professionalism came out when it came to preparing the food for the special dinner. The two perched over a metal table inspecting each individual course dish and added any necessary touches.

One thing that Cichonski has been known for is his plating expertise and Billy Riddle, cook at Ela, praised his skills.

“A lot of us have learned how to plate immaculately like him,” Riddle said. “He’s a f——- killer plate stylist.”

Riddle, having worked with Cichonski since executive chef days at the Lacroix in Rittenhouse who also helped him open Ela, knew of how unexpected his good friend can be at times, like with this event. In retrospect, he said he sees the entire experience in the kitchen as a good one, even with its pros and cons.

“It keeps him entertained, it keeps the staff entertained, it keeps me entertained,” Riddle said. “It’s been a crazy experience since I’ve been here.”

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