Tom Coffey, right, Mary Carr, and daughter Bernadette. (Click on photo for more.)
On one side of the table, Mary Carr. On the other, son-in-law Tom Coffey. In front of each: a foil tray filled with simmering Irish stew. Her stew. His stew. And only one stew can be … the best. It’s Mom vs. Tom.
On this Sunday afternoon at Finnigan’s Wake in Northern Liberties … Tom is the winner. His Irish stew is judged the best in the amateur category at the Sixth Annual Great Irish Stew Cook-Off, sponsored by the Hibernian Hunger Project.
Tom Coffey accepted his award with grace. Of Mary Carr, he said, “She needed a good ass whuppin’.”
But seriously, now, folks … “She (Mary) is a good sport,” says Tom. “I didn’t marry my wife. I married a family, and they’re a very social group.”
So no worries about where Tom Coffey will have Easter dinner. Rivalry aside, Tom’s making dinner. “And I always invite myself,” he says.
Here are the other winners:
- Hibernian: Maryanne Burnett (LAOH 87)
- Irish Organization: Helen DeGrand (Mayo Association)
- Professional: Josh Landau (a 2007 winner)
- People’s Choice: Team Kerrigan (a 2009 winner)
Joe Kerrigan accepts his prize from Hibernian Hunger Project director Ed Dougherty.
There was something about Joe Kerrigan’s Irish stew. Maybe it was the tarragon. Possibly the Worcestershire sauce. Perhaps all the beer.
Whatever the secret—and there was, unquestionably, something mouth-wateringly different about Kerrigan’s stew—it was clearly the people’s choice for best stew by an amateur cook at the annual Irish Stew Cook-Off at Finnigan’s Wake, benefiting the Hibernian Hunger Project.
One key difference Kerrigan was willing to admit to: the meat. Most of the contestants went with American-style beef, a few with lamb in the Irish fashion—and one entry included both. Kerrigan, a Fishtown florist and member of AOH Division 87, used beef brisket, cooked long and slow until fork-tender.
Kerrigan, who looks a bit like John Goodman, says he and his buddy Tom Sullivan started Thursday morning (the event was Thursday night) in Sullivan’s kitchen. And it sounds like Kerrigan’s not a neat cook. “We both were working on it,” he says. “We started at 11:30, and it’s been cooking since 1. At 2, we realized we didn’t have enough meat so I had to send him (Tom) out for more … I really destroyed his kitchen.”
The recipe started out as a variation on Kerrigan’s chili, which, in his own very humble estimation is “awesome.” All of his buddies were telling him to give the competition a shot. The 2009 cook-off was his first.
Taking first place in the pro category was the Starboard Side Tavern, also in Fishtown.
We have photos from the night.
The 2009 grand marshal James Coyne and wife Ginny.
The threat of snow couldn’t keep loyal supporters of the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade away from Finnigan’s Wake on Sunday afternoon. The fund-raiser for the parade, which is attempting to make up a $40,000 shortfall in funding due to city cutbacks, offered a bit of late winter warmth for many parade fans.
Helping to hot things up a bit was the Birmingham Six, which took to the stage early and kept on hammering out tunes ‘til the party was over. Finnigan’s, always a gracious host for worthy Irish causes, provided great food and more than a few pints.
The fund-raiser is one of two big events planned. The next one comes this Sunday at Springfield Country Club, 400 W. Sproul Road, in Springfield, Delaware County, starting at 4 p.m. The mighty band Blackthorn provides the music for that one.
Check out all the fun at Finnigan’s.
Campbell School dancers Stephanie Miller and Alison Silverman step lively.
Local supporters of Hillary Clinton were gathering downstairs at Finnigan’s Wake to await the outcome of the primaries. They probably had a happy night.
Meanwhile, local Irish were up on the third floor with the primary purpose of celebrating their own special month. And was there ever really any question that they would have a great night?
The Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade Observance Association, under the leadership of director Michael Bradley, gathered with their partners from CBS3, for one last big blowout. (There’ll be a luncheon later, too, of course.)
There was, as always, some fabulous Irish music and some great dancing. (The food and the drink were pretty good, too.)
The 4th Annual Great Irish Stew Cook-Off, sponsored by the Philadelphia Hibernian Hunger Project will be held on Thursday, March 13, from 6 p.m. ‘til 9 p.m. at Finnegan’s Wake on Spring Garden Street. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Hibernian Hunger Project’s Cook-In, being held on Saturday, March 29, at the Aid for Friends facility in Northeast Philly.
The Hibernian Hunger Project got its start right here in Philadelphia in March of 2000 and, since that time, more than 67,500 individual and bulk meals have been prepared, packaged and delivered to organizations like Aid for Friends, the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service & Education Center, St. John’s Hospice, and others that feed the elderly, homeless and less fortunate. The Hibernian Hunger Project is now a national charity of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
We are challenging Philadelphia area restaurants and pubs to join in the Spirit of Saint Patrick’s Day and help the less fortunate, while competing for the bragging rights to “Philadelphia’s Best Irish Stew. Previous winners have included the Plough and the Stars Restaurant (2004), McFadden’s Restaurant – Old City (2006) and Chef Josh Landau of Colleen’s on the Parkway (2007).
Amateur winners have included Jude Fanning of AOH Division 39, Phil Bowdren of AOH Division 51 and Ann Marie Parkinson & Kathy Higgins of LAOH Division 1. Past Celebrity Judges have included CBS 3’s Larry Mendte & Bob Kelly.
The event is open to the public and, for a $5 donation; you will have the opportunity to sample some of the greatest Irish Stews made in Philly.
For more information on the event or to register for the competition, please contact:
Ed Dougherty – Hibernian Hunger Project National Chairman @ 215-338-4315
Donna Donnelly – Philadelphia Hibernian Hunger Project Cochairperson @ 215-964-7830
Phil Bowdren – Philadelphia Hibernian Hunger Project Publicity Chair @ 267-254-2219 or firstname.lastname@example.org