The most fun you’ll have with a calendar of events all week. And you just might learn something, too.
Sunday, Jan. 28 — Worcester’s Best Chef Competition, 5-8 p.m., Mechanics Hall, 321 Main St. Good news for this year’s competitors: Back-to-back defending Iron Chef champion “Wandering William” Nemeroff — who’s represented Cedar Street Grille, Ceres Bistro, The International and BT’s Smokehouse in previous competitions — will not be in the trophy mix for the 11th annual edition of what’s become a staple on the city social calendar.
Nemeroff, though, will be back at Mechanics Hall as a judge, along with familiar-faced competitors like serial People’s and Judges’ Choice award winner Chris O’Harra of the Flying Rhino, Michael Arrastia of The Hangover Pub and Broth, and Rick Araujo of Civic Kitchen & Drink.
VIP tickets are $75 and get you early entry (3:45 p.m.), time mingling with the chefs and previewing their menus, and access to a private room with complimentary “relaxation services.” Regular tickets are $55 for 5 p.m. admission, $50 for 5:30. Fees apply.
Wednesday, Jan. 31 — WPI women’s basketball vs. Smith, 7 p.m., Harrington Auditorium, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 151 Salisbury St. [parking garage] WPI coach Cherise Galasso has been churning out winners, on and off the court, for nearly two decades now. And this season’s no different, as the Cougars won 14 of their first 18 games on the heels of back-to-back 20-win seasons and NEWMAC conference championship game appearances.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have former Holy Name star Ama Biney leading the way (14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists per game). The 1,000-point scorer is about to take ninth place on the school’s all-time scoring list. Biney gets help from steady seniors Madison Beck (12.4 points per game), Maura Buckley, Brittney Lambert and Stasha Greenalch.
Smith was 13-4 at press time, led by star forward Kennedy Guest-Pritchett, who averages about 16 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Thursday, Feb. 1 — Brantley Gilbert: The Ones That Like Me Tour, 7 p.m., DCU Center, 50 Foster St. Not to be confused with Harvey Weinstein’s That One Weirdo Who Still Calls Me tour, Brantley Gilbert brings his country-fried, tough-guy crooner show deep into Northern Yankee territory for a night of boot-wearing, pickup-driving, flag-waving fun. The Georgia-bred singer-songwriter is considered to have a distinct connection with his legion of fans, “BG Nation.”
According to an NPR review: “Gilbert is acutely aware of what keeps his audience feeling connected to him, his bellicose tone, his defiant posture, the contempt he aims at any hint of condescension, the slight suggestion of softness behind the sneer.” Tickets range from $29.75 to $59.75.
Friday, Feb. 2 — Worcester Railers vs. Adirondack Thunder, 7:05 p.m., DCU Center, 50 Foster St. The North Division rival Thunder play their home games in Glens Falls, N.Y., in a facility called (for now, anyway) Cool Insuring Arena. Which got us to thinking. The ECHL is a distinct experience in many ways, for players and fans alike, what with the roster churn, eclectic team names and ubiquitous promotional efforts — what kind of stadiums play counterpart to the venerable DCU Center?
Well, there’s the Norfolk Scope (which is actually super-cool-looking), the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, the Indiana Farmers Coliseum, and the Bon Secours Wellness Arena. So, yeah, there’s plenty of ECHL flavor there. Speaking of ECHL flavor: Adirondack is one of two teams in the league named Thunder (Wichita). Tickets start at $15. Oh, and it’s 2-3-4 Friday (get a $2 popcorn, $3 hot dog and $4 Bud Light in the Bud Light Lounge).
Saturday, Feb. 3 — Love Week at Crompton Collective, 138 Green St. That’s right boys and girls, if “Love Week” is a thing, then Valentine’s Day must be right around the corner. So, you could prove your devotion with overpriced chocolate, undergrown flowers you’ve never seen before and the wordplay of strangers — if you’re into that sort of thing. Or you could avail yourself of the overhyped, under-humbled Canal District and one of its many hipster havens.
After all, the Crompton Collective provides you with a one-stop shop for antiques, crafts, handmade gifts and much more from local vendors. And on Saturdays, there’s even a year-round farmers market. Through Feb. 11 during regular business hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday and Tuesday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Wednesday and Friday; 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Thursday.