2021 March Cheesesteak Madness

Double the historic cheesesteak fun!

The Devils in the Details part 8

The Final Four

Updated footnotes; ABC’s localish videoed the sweet 16 to finals.  They don’t share.  Here is a link to our videos on Localish’s FB page.  https://www.facebook.com/watch/localishfood/291922202649042/ or Facebook => Localish food => Series => Cheesesteak Madness. 

Cheesesteaks in those rounds had to be delivered by the shop to a central location.  Some shop owner’s (Goomba’s) didn’t want their cheesesteaks traveling and then being judged so they opted out of the tournament.  Angelo’s was closed due to a fire.  JRP does not do competitions.  Dalessandro’s did not return multiple calls and emails.  This post, the finals and then March Cheesesteak Madness will retire quietly to a series on my facebook page.

Drive to 1,000.  Be a guest eater!!

My name is Jim Pappas.  I have eaten 856 different cheesesteaks in the last 3 years.  I am on a Philadelphia Cheesesteak Adventure, My quest for the ultimate cheesesteak.  Philadelphians love to argue ‘Who has the best cheesesteak.’  I created March Cheesesteak Madness so we stop arguing.  Or make it a bigger argument.  March Cheesesteak Madness is a Bracket style cheesesteak tournament.  This was the first time in cheesesteak bracket tournament history that judges ate every Cheesesteak in every match.  We love making history and we love getting everyone involved so we also had a People’s Bracket.  The People’s bracket was completed by online voting.  We started with 64 Cheesesteaks in a bracket style tournament.  We ended with a Judge’s Champion and a People’s Champion.  

The Final Four.  It has been a long twisty turny road to get here.  In both brackets I am surprised at who won.  I selected the 64 cheesesteaks to be in the tournament so I thought they had a chance to win.  But, I seeded the tournament so I do have my favorites.  A 6 and 12 seed won their brackets.  I guess that is the attraction of bracket style tournaments.   We had to name champions but the tournament is also intended to celebrate all of the great cheesesteaks and the wonderful people that toil behind hot grills to make them from us!  There is a video for each contestant on www.marchcheesesteakmadness.com.  I hope you take the time to watch the videos and learn about the great people and places behind each cheesesteak in the tournament.

The Final Four for the Judge’s bracket;  

representing the Philadelphia region – Cleavers

representing the Delaware County region – Phil & Jim’s Steaks & Hoagies

representing the NJ/DE region – Donkey’s Place

representing the Other Counties region – Tony Joe’s House of Great Eats

The Final Four for the People’s bracket;

representing the Philadelphia region – By George!

representing the Delaware County region – Phil & Jim’s Steaks & Hoagies

representing the NJ/DE region – Donkey’s Place

representing the Other Counties region – Curlys

Without further ado,

The winner of the Judge’s Bracket was Phil & Jim’s Steaks & Hoagies, Parkside, PA.

Phil & Jim’s Steaks & Hoagies has new old owners.  Costa and Dan, the new owners, worked at Phil & Jim’s well over 30 years ago when they were teenagers.  They recently had an opportunity to purchase Phil & Jim’s.  We should all be glad they took advantage of that opportunity.  Costa and Dan have breathed new life into Phil & Jim’s.  The day to day breath comes from Dan’s wife, Gia.  Phil & Jim’s Steaks & hoagies won the Judge’s bracket by delivering the same great cheesesteak to every match.  

The winner of the People’s Bracket was By George!, Reading Terminal Market, Center City Philadelphia.

By George! One of my favorite things about Philadelphia Cheesesteak Adventure and 2021 March Cheesesteak Madness is that they forced me to discover the wonderful Reading Terminal.  By George! makes a great cheesesteak, period.  Reading Terminal makes By George better by 2.  1, You want to have dinner with 3 friends but you all want something different.  Go to Reading Terminal and get a table in the Center Court.  Get you separate dinners – including an amazing cheesesteak from By George! – and enjoy together.  Adult beverages are available.  2.  By George! Has great neighbor vendors and they collaborate on stupendous culinary creations.  I highly recommend the Pastrami Cheesesteak collaboration between By George! and Hershel’s Deli.

Memorable things for me;  

  1. The Contestants – When Philadelphians talk about their favorite cheesesteak they always spend more time talking about the place and people surrounding their favorite cheesesteak.  I got to see and meet 64 of those favorite places and people.
  2. The Judges – Huge THANK YOU to the Judges.  I dedicated episode 2 to their hard work.  We did have some fun and the Judge’s blooper reel plays continually in my head. 
  3. Consistency.  Someone commented on social media that they wished the shops would make us new cheesesteaks for every round.  Logistically we could not get new cheesesteaks every round but it did take three cheesesteaks to get to the final four and consistency played a very big role in picking a winner in the judge’s bracket.  
  4. Thinking of all the cheesesteaks from every round I try to make a ‘best of’ list.  I also make Super Matches, ie. Charlie’s 1st round cheesesteak vs. Tony Joe’s 2nd round cheesesteak.  

This was Part 8 of the Devil is in the Details; The Final Four.  Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed 2021 March Cheesesteak Madness as much as I did.

This is worth repeating, Philadelphia Cheesesteak Adventure is my quest to find the Ultimate Cheesesteak and the tournament is designed to name a champion.  But, both are intended to celebrate all of the great  cheesesteaks and the wonderful people that toil behind hot grills to make them from us!  You can see videos of every contestant on the tournament’s website, www.marchcheesesteakmadness.com and/or the tournament’s facebook page, March Cheesesteak Madness.

Drive to 1,000.  My name is Jim Pappas and I’ve eaten 856 different cheesesteaks during the last 3 years.  I want to get to 1,000 different cheesesteaks by the end of 2021.  I’m looking to have guest eaters join me.  Do you have a favorite spot I haven’t been to? Do you want to be a guest eater?   E-mail me; cheesesteakadventure@gmail.com

#driveto1000