Here we are, Super Bowl weekend! It is a celebration of advertising, a celebration of food and, oh yeah, there is a likely predetermined football game happening between two of the better teams in the NFL.
What better time than to follow up my own made up “Super Bowl of Sandwiches” columns from the past two weeks with an outrageous column on a Super Bowl worthy challenge, the great "Philly Taco Challenge!"
First, if you are from Philly and have not heard of the Philly Taco, that is all right. You just probably don’t scroll through social media like 25 percent of the population. No, really, shame on you ... get with the program.
I first saw the Philly Taco on Instagram and immediately needed to learn more. “Is this for real?” I thought. Why yes, yes it is. Apparently in 2003, Jeff Barg and Adam Gordon (real Philadelphians) came up with the idea and dubbed it “The Lorenzo’s-Jim’s Challenge.” It was a late-night, crazy thing to do, combining a cheesesteak from Jim’s on South Street with a slice of Lorenzo’s cheese pizza from their big 24-inch pie.
You either roll the cheesesteak up in the pizza from the tip of the slice towards the crust, or you set the cheesesteak lengthwise in the slice and fold it like a taco. Whichever works best for you. Then, you attempt to eat this whole thing!
It was a joke at first, a thing he wrote about as something that actually was happening (it was not), but then it caught on and people were really doing it. Many folks jumped on this bandwagon and that caused NPR and many media outlets to do stories on it. Well, as a fan of New York-style pizza and Philly cheesesteaks, I felt like I, too, needed to check this Philly Taco out.
I set the wheels in motion and called a few guys that I knew would be able to help me out with this adventure. First, I ran the idea by John Kolar, of Thyme 2, who is a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef that started out in N.Y.C. So, John knows a few things about a New York slice and a Philly Cheesesteak and I know he is up for outrageous challenges.
Next, I solicited the help of Jeff Miller, owner of Courthouse Pizza in Medina. Jeff makes a traditional New York slice with a great crust, so his pizza was the perfect match for the challenge.
It was a cold, icy January Tuesday and we all gathered in Courthouse Pizza on Medina's Public Square. I had the help of a few courageous Medina High School students, who were going to attempt the challenge and see if they could finish off one of these outrageous combos.
We were also fortunate to be joined by a guy I just recently met, Jeff Wiseman, owner of The Original Steaks & Hoagies, with his new Medina location slated to open soon. He brought cheesesteaks, John from Thyme brought cheesesteaks and Jeff at Courthouse, and his manager Tom Hinkle, supplied the large slices cheese pizza.
Tom also attempted the challenge. Post editor Kevin McManus attempted it, as well, because this was too crazy to miss. Plus, he is somewhat young and can still put away food like this.
First, you are probably wondering, “did this actually taste good as a combo?” Why yes, it really did. The words “amazing” and “awesome” were tossed around. Brett Morlock said, “Two of maybe God’s greatest foods all rolled up into one! Sign me up!”
Second, what way worked best? Rolled like a burrito or folded lengthwise like a taco? Rolled was best.
Third, would his make a great contest? Absolutely!
Fourth, did anyone finish? Yes, the high-schoolers completed the challenge. The rest of us ate “half.”
Finally, do doctors recommend this? Umm, no. Calories on the slice of pizza are about 1,800, the cheesesteak about 900. So only 2,700 calories. Plan in a few workouts and you’ll be fine.
Does Cookin’ with Karl recommend this? Of course, I do. If you are a hot-dog-eating contest kind of guy, or an Olympic swimmer or large football player, then this could be a daily thing. At first, I thought I would not enjoy this. Now, I can’t wait to try it again.
Do your own version for the Super Bowl and email me a photo! Game on!