Scott Schroeder’s locally sourced mushroom cheesesteak a hoagie fit for the pope [video]

What would you cook up if you had the chance to serve dinner to Pope Francis? We asked some of the city’s top chefs to weigh in. Here’s what they said.

This is part one in a series

Visitors to Philadelphia will tell you their trip isn’t complete without a cheesesteak. And, as any Philadelphia native will tell you, there’s no agreeing on a favorite.

Chef Scott Schroeder, owner of the soon-to-open Hungry Pigeon in Queen Village, won’t have the Holy Father chow down on just any old cheesesteak. “Ninety-five percent of [cheesesteaks] in Philadelphia aren’t very good,” said Schroeder.

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So what would he feed Pope Francis? A mushroom cheesesteak hoagie, made in his home kitchen.

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Schroeder chose from a mix of ingredients that he would serve in his restaurant, along with items picked up in South Philadelphia, where he lives. 

The grass-fed beef comes from Rineer Family Farms in Lancaster County. A quick freeze makes the beautifully marbled top round a breeze to slice nice and thin. Schroeder flipped the seared pieces in a cast-iron pan with a hint of salt and pepper while a combination of maitake and beech mushrooms from Kennett Square cooked in oil and butter on another burner.

He toasted a roll from Sarcone’s Bakery in the Italian Market, and spread on a layer of the good stuff — Hellmann’s Mayonnaise. And after the burners were shut down, Schroeder got to work building his masterpiece.

Red leaf lettuce, topped with slices of steak, then the cheese — a sharp provolone from Claudio Specialty Foods in the Italian Market. Next, some sliced tomatoes, red onions and chopped freshly pickled long hot peppers.

It involved a level of craft that tourists waiting behind glass sneeze guards for their “chopped wiz wit” could never fully appreciate.

Would the pope himself appreciate a cheesesteak made to such exacting standards? No one seems to know much about the pope’s actual culinary tastes, but, as a Jesuit, he appears to keep things simple. He did tell one interviewer after his installation that he missed the anonymous outings he used to take as a cardinal to a Roman pizzeria.

For Schroeder, too, it’s not just about the cooking. It’s all about the experience in his home, enjoying a meal alongside those he cares about.

“My passion, and usually my deepest connection to food that would be spiritual, would be feeding people, especially in my home,” he said. “Where I’m sitting and eating with them, and conversation actually takes place, versus a restaurant — which I’m passionate about, too, but is very disconnected.”

The end result?

A plate fit for the pope.

This is part one in a series

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