In Like A Lion, Out For A Cheesesteak!
March is our favorite month. Why, you ask? Sure, spring is coming, baseball is getting started, March Madness is a blast…but most of all, it’s when we get to celebrate National Cheesesteak Day!
Once again this year, the big day falls on a weekend—specifically Sunday, March 24th.
Naturally, it’s a big deal in our hometown. But this is NATIONAL Cheesesteak Day. As long as you’ve got quality meat, cheese, and bread, you’re good to go, regardless of where the GPS says you are.
Get Prepared—We Can Help
Need some tips on the ingredients and/or technique? We got you covered: watch “How To Make A Real Philly Cheesesteak” here or on our YouTube channel. The Prep School feature here on our site has recipes and other ideas if you’re feeling bold in the kitchen.
You can also check out “Cheesesteaks Across America” where we highlight a dozen shops around the country (including here in the City of Brotherly Love) where you can quench your jones for an authentic ‘steak.
Join the Conversation
Celebrate “The Legend”
And if you’re #HungryForHistory and want to brush up on your knowledge of cheesesteak lore—fun facts, colorful characters, and the story of how an icon has evolved—dig into our mini-doc “The Legend of the Philly Cheesesteak” which traces the story from humble beginnings to worldwide sensation.
Happy #NationalCheesesteakDay, fellow carnivores! Let’s gooooooo!!
Legend — defined:
1. story handed down by tradition from earlier times and popularly accepted as historical.
2. totally worth of respect for any reason; someone or something whose coolness extends beyond all space and time.
The Philly Cheesesteak has earned its legendary status—from humble beginnings to worldwide sensation.
Original Philly is proud to present this mini-doc that traces the real backstory of how the cheesesteak has grown into one of the world’s proudest and most polarizing indulgences.
Come for the fun facts, stay for the stories and colorful characters that make the cheesesteak legendary. Dare we say it’s a must-watch for anyone who loves cheesesteaks or wants to know the truth about who, when and how!
So this year’s installation of the Philly Cheesesteak & Food Fest is in the books.
Judging by the smiles (and cheesy crumbs) on people’s faces, the event was another solid success, and a delicious way to spend a Saturday in October.
Put simply, the 2018 Fest was just right.
The crowd was heavy…but not so packed that you couldn’t move freely. There were couples, families, big groups, and even some cheesesteak hunters flying solo, all coming together in one spot on one day to devour cheesesteaks by the collective ton.
Some of the food lines were long…but not too long—just enough of a wait to let you know you were going to get something great.
The weather was cool…but not too chilly. The Fall afternoon temps were perfect for jeans and a sweatshirt or long tee (and no sweating).
The venue was smaller than the Ballpark…but by no means tight. 2300 Arena had plenty of room for a couple dozen food vendors, games inside and out, our giant Philly-proud photo station, live music, and other tasty fun.
Thanks to all the guests who stopped by to chat, put their short-term memory to the test by playing our cheesesteak-themed Match game, pose for some pics in front of our huge “City of Cheesesteaks & Champions” backdrop, grab an Original Philly magnet or two, or give a quick wave on their way to the ‘steaks in our Vendor Area. (Who could blame them if they were in a bit of a hurry to get to the grub?)
See you at the 5th (!) Annual Cheesesteak Fest next year.
What are you up to this weekend?
For the fourth consecutive year, the City of Philadelphia will host the annual Cheesesteak & Food Fest. Um, where else would it be?!?
The party’s this Saturday, October 13th starting at 1:00 PM (noon for VIPs) and raging until 6:00.
After a few years at the Ballpark, the Fest has a new home: the 2300 Arena (2300 S. Swanson St, Philadelphia, PA 19148), inside the legendary boxing venue, as well as outside where the Vendor Area will be the center of the food action. It’s a great spot—maybe you’ve been to the Wing Fest or another gig? Plenty of parking, great bar area for guests 21+, outdoor fun and games, a couple stages for live music, and more.
So the venue may be new, but the point remains the same: you come to taste tons of mouth-watering cheesesteaks—classic and creative—flex your Philly pride, and have fun with friends and family. (And if you know anyone who can’t make it, go ahead and make them jealous!)
We have a new surprise this year to help attendees capture and share some memorable selfies. Let’s just say it was inspired by the World-Champion Philadelphia Eagles, the NCAA Champ Villanova Wildcats, and one Jason Kelce. (Don’t worry…we’re keeping it clean and family-friendly.)
This magical event is an annual affair, so don’t miss out! You can get more info at the Fest’s website.
As we like to say when this event gets close, “PREPARE TO FEAST!”
See you down there.
If you’re curious what the Cheesesteak Fest is all about, check out our recap and photos from last year’s event.
Another spring showcase in Chicago, and thousands more authentic Philly cheesesteak samples shared with hungry show-goers. It’s always a good time, and a surefire sign that summer can’t be far off.
As usual, we promised delicious cheesesteaks, and our team delivered! Nick and Gerard, in particular, handled the grill like champs—showing laser-like focus, undeterred by long lines, toasty temps, and clouds of swirling steam.
This year, we were thrilled to be back next to fellow Philly folks, the legendary Amoroso’s Bakery and their perfect sandwich rolls. It was also fun to have our new Tyson Foods family with us while we caught up with tons of other customers, industry reps, and foodies across all walks of life.
We’d do it every month if we could. But, alas, the NRA comes but once each year. So we’re determined to make it count!
You can sense it’s close. Yep, we’re getting ready for another year at the industry’s gold standard: the annual NRA Show in Chicago. It kicks off in just 10 days, running May 19-22, 2018 at McCormick Place.
This will be a special year for Original Philly—our 22nd appearance in total, but our very first as part of the Tyson Foods family.
As always, we’ll be there with our trusty mobile steak shop. Our customized booth is practically the stuff of legend—complete with full-service grill, fridge, cutting boards, heat lamps, spatulas, and anything else you need to make cheesesteak magic wherever you happen to be.
We expect the lines to be long…’cause they always are. But we keep ’em moving, and NO ONE EVER LEAVES DISAPPOINTED.
Before the curtain drops on the 2018 NRA Show, we’ll serve thousands and thousands of cheesesteak samples to carnivores in town for the big event.
Last year, we brought some 600 pounds of meat and accompaniments, producing 6,400 cheesesteak samples for friends old and new. How much in ’18? Not sure yet, but one thing we do know is that we’re excited to be back next to our old pals from Amoroso’s. They’re flying in from Philly just like we are, and we’ll be neighbors on the show floor.
Feel free to check out our recap of last year’s show.
And if you’re planning to be in the Windy City, be sure to come by to say hello and grab a sample (or a few)!
Thirty years. 30!
That’s 360 months. Over 1,500 weeks. Just about 11,000 days. You get the picture. It’s a long time.
Earlier this month, we threw a surprise anniversary party at our HQ celebrating 30 years’ worth of loyalty and contributions by one of our longest-tenured members of the Original Philly team: Mark Freeman.
Even in an established, family-run business, it’s not every day you get to recognize someone for that kind of longevity. It takes a special kind of individual to remain with one organization for that amount of time—devoted, productive, determined, flexible, tireless, positive. Mark Freeman is all that, and more.
Mark has seen Original Philly grow from a small, mom-and-pop-type of business to an innovative, worldwide, Philly steak market leader, recently becoming part of Tyson Foods. He’s also seen the company welcome hundreds of “new” team members since he first joined our ranks—many of them every bit as valuable as he’s been to our operation. But on this momentous occasion, we were excited to bring everyone together to honor a man—a colleague and friend—who has dedicated a huge chunk of his life to helping Original Philly succeed and grow.
We took the opportunity to ask Mark to reflect on his time with Original Philly Cheesesteak Co. After some cake, naturally…
OP: What’s your earliest memory at Original Philly?
MF: I couldn’t find the building! On my first day, I walked past it like four times. I asked a lady. It was an old garage. I could barely see the sign. I rang the bell and a short, old man came out (lol). It was Mr. George (Original Philly co-founder George Kontodemos).
OP: What was your first job here?
MF: Packing meat in trays, molding.
OP: Biggest technology change at OP in the last 30 years?
MF: When we got the punch-in time cards. Let’s just say it was CRAZY!
OP: Most memorable colleague?
MF: Mr. George, that’s my buddy.
OP: Best Philly sports moment since you started?
MF: When the Phillies won the World Series, they closed the city down. We still had work though. Mr. Nick (Original Philly co-founder Nick Karamatsoukas) and Mr. George were like, “we still have to work!” Lol.
OP: If you didn’t join Original Philly, what might you be doing?
MF: Still in the restaurant business. I used to be a cook’s apprentice for seven years before I came here.
OP: What is your favorite thing about Original Philly?
MF: Coming to work every day. I am blessed to come to work every day.
And we’re blessed to have you. Cheers, Mark. Here’s to the next 30!
Last Thursday, Tyson Foods CEO Tom Hayes met with Original Philly leaders and team members at the company’s headquarters in Philadelphia. It was his first official visit since Tyson announced the acquisition back in November of last year.
Tom Hayes joined Tyson on the last day of 2016, and he had an eventful first year at the helm. In addition to the purchase of Original Philly late in 2017, he led Tyson’s $4.2 billion acquisition of convenience and ready-to-eat foods company (and former Original Philly rival) AdvancePierre in April, after announcing efforts to increase its focus on core protein-based businesses. Throughout the year, the company revealed plans to build and expand multiple processing facilities. He also committed to eliminating antibiotics from Tyson’s flagship poultry products. Nearing the end of his first year on the job, Tom Hayes was recognized as “Food Executive of the Year” by industry publication Food Dive in December.
As expected, Tom’s visit was met with much excitement. During the early part of the day, Original Philly execs and managers enjoyed the opportunity to meet with their new parent company’s chief, discussing Original Philly’s history, the brand, products, sales dynamics, and details about the unique manufacturing process, among other topics.
After that lively conversation, the proceedings left the conference room in favor of a “field trip.” This particular journey required our distinguished guest to suit up in the Original Philly “tour uni”: a hard hat and white coat. The senior team chaperoned Tom on an in-depth VIP tour of the plant and production lines. Tom’s knowledge about the Original Philly story and business was evident, but this was his first chance to get an up-close look at our innovative blast freezers and “Chop Shop” production floor. He finished a full morning with a robust sense of what makes us different.
THE RIGHT STUFF: Tyson CEO Tom Hayes joins members of the Original Philly leadership team on a tour of the company’s production floor—affectionately known as “Nick & George’s Chop Shop—at its HQ in Philadelphia (April 2018)
When it came time to break for lunch, there’s wasn’t much intrigue surrounding what the hosts would be serving. However, Tom was treated to a special visit from Jerry’s Kitchen, one of Philly’s celebrated food trucks, which parked itself outside the offices and cooked up Original Philly’s legendary WOW steaks and cheesesteak appetizers. Everyone, including the special guest, got to experience their ‘steaks to order: “wiz wit,” American or without. Despite the chilly April temps outside, team members loved the lunch surprise and congregated around the truck for a truly authentic Philly cheesesteak experience: tasty bites, spirited dialogue, and good friends old and new.
Once the lunch truck party concluded (with full bellies, one and all), Tom and the senior team made the short drive to the Original Philly Fully Cooked office and production facility. There, the group met to discuss that unique side of the business, which included the second plant tour.
Despite the hearty lunch, the leaders of Original Philly and their important visitor found room for a nice dinner to cap the busy day. The theme of family was prevalent—as that is a vital part of the Original Philly story, and something it shares with the larger Tyson brand and operation.
Original Philly’s leadership in the growing Philly Steak category was a main attraction for Tyson, and a critical piece of the CEO’s vision for Tyson’s dominance of the protein-based food market.
As part of the dynamic Tyson family, Original Philly customers across the country and globe can look forward to increased distribution, new and innovative products, deep and useful resources, and exciting opportunities to grow their Philly cheesesteak offerings.
Tom Hayes and his new pals at Original Philly are going to make sure of it.
On Saturday, March 24th, legions of cheesesteak fanatics in every corner of the U.S. of A. will flock to their favorite local steak and pizza shops, delis, convenient stores, full service restaurants, and other eateries to celebrate this most worthy of designated National days.
In case you’re wondering, National Today tracks nearly 700 special days—including gems like Static Electricity Day (Jan. 9th) and Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19th…Arrr they serious?!) Okay, we’re hardly Switzerland here, but National Cheesesteak Day is definitely one of the most glorious. Am I right?
To help everyone gear up, we decided to take a 12-stop “virtual road trip” to find some of the top cheesesteak destinations from coast to coast (starting in our hometown, naturally). Take a quick spin with us to sample Cheesesteaks Across America—from Philly down to Florida, through Texas on the way west to see our friends at Boo’s in LA, then back across the Rockies and Midwest to where it all began…
So how will you indulge this year? Classic beef, American, and grilled onions? Chicken cheesesteak with provolone? Pizza steak? Cheesesteak hoagie? Mushrooms and peppers? Good ol’ Whiz wit’? No onions? No problem. You make the call!
For those DIYers out there who aspire to build their very own masterpiece at home, we tip our hats and invite you to check out this smart video to help guide you to the Promise Land. (Our Prep School feature also has recipes and other tips if you’re game!)
However—and wherever—you partake, know Original Philly is right there with you…in spirit, and hopefully in the middle of your Amoroso or Liscio’s roll!
And, as always, there are generous ‘steak purveyors that will be offering free eats all around the country, so we urge you to do a bit of homework (Google + 30-60 seconds) to see what special happenings may be on tap in your neck of the woods.
Happy #NationalCheesesteakDay, amigos! Prepare to FEAST!
So the Philadelphia Eagles are playing for all the marbles this Sunday. Let’s just say we’re “Super” stoked for what some are calling the battle of Destiny vs. Dynasty.
The biggest Sunday of the year—known for football & feasting
If you’re among the millions of people expected to celebrate by serving and savoring Philly cheesesteaks—here in the Delaware Valley, or wherever you’re planning to take in the game (yes, even New England)—make sure you cook ’em up the authentic, tried-and-true way.
Of course, Philly natives know how it’s done. But for those less seasoned, there’s no need to search on Google or YouTube. Original Philly’s got you covered. Just watch, learn, then go forth and feast!