Brett Naylor, who came on CP's radar at chef de cuisine of the short-lived Les Bons Temps and more recently cooked for Urban Outfitters and Tria, will become the new chef at Oyster House (1516 Sansom St.) this coming Monday. He's taking over for Andy Kikto, who's moved on to the nearby Butcher & Singer (both were preceded by Ted Manko and Greg Ling). No word yet on what sort of personal imprint Naylor will put on the popular Center City seafood spot.
Photo: Drew Lazor
Bibou (1009 S. Eighth St.), the culinary child of Pierre and Charlotte Calmels, is turning three, and Brad Spence of Amis (412 S. 13th St.) is throwing a birthday party-themed Industry Night tonight in honor of the French BYOB. Calmels is preparing a tripe-centric dish — perhaps a version of his mainstay braised tripe (pictured above) — and a traditional French stew for the celebration, while Spence is serving his take on French onion soup along with porchetta and house-pickled vegetables. For dessert, they'll have semifreddo in three layers to resemble the French tricolor. Come for the Calmels, stay for the Champagne (and beer and seasonal cocktails and shots, if you want). Standard Industry Night practices apply: free food, drink specials, cool guests, tipping well, restaurant pay stub necessary for entry. Sorry civilians, you're just going to have to stay home watching Amelie.
Photo: Jessica Kourkounis
Rob and Maggie Wasserman of Rouge (205 S. 18th St.) are bringing back Burger Brawl for a second year, this time with even more worthy competitors.
On May 6, 20 professional chefs are competing at the Fleisher Art Memorial (719 Catharine St.) to win best burger and help raise $40,000 for Meredith Elementary School. Last year's winner, Jennifer Carroll, is returning to defend her title against the likes of Marcie Turney of Barbuzzo, Robert Aikens of The Dandelion, John Taus of The Corner, Brian Ricci of Kennett and Jason Cichonski of Ela. The discerning palates judging the patties include Meal Ticket's own Drew Lazor, Marc Summers of The Food Network, Michael Klein of philly.com and Grub Street's Collin Keefe. Philly.com/food, which is one of the event's sponsors, has put together a short video of a few competitors showing off their burger entry and talking some smack (above). They've also listed each burger for the public to vote on. Entry to the event is $75 and tickets can be purchased on the Burger Brawl website up until May 5 (no tix the day of). One hundred percent of the money raised will go to Meredith Elementary.
Meals on Wheels Delaware, a local branch of the organization that benefits senior citizens, is hosting a number of big Meals from the Masters events this weekend. Tonight, An Evening with the Masters goes down at Wilmington's Doubletree Downtown. More than 30 local chefs, including Monica Glass of Fish and MasterChef winner Jennifer Behm, will be serving up samples and presenting hands-on demos. VIPs ($125; GA is $75) will have access to the Cellar Master's Wine Auction, which includes Glass' desserts, wine tasting and early entry to the event. All guests can enjoy food and drink, live music and a basket contest. Tickets can be purchased online.
Sunday, April 22 will see a benefit Celebrity Chef's Brunch. Chefs from around the country, including Philly's own Daniel Stern and Peter Scarola of R2L and PorcSalt charcutier Matthew Ridgway, are coming together for this fundraiser. In addition to eating, guests can participate in a silent auction to win kitchen supplies, wine or even a vacation. This portion of the festivities will take place at Bank of America in Wilmington and will cost $175. Tickets are available online, and $115 of the ticket price is tax deductible. If you want to attend all the events, an all-access pass is available for $250.
The ever-pedigreed Chris Kearse, who slid in at chef de cuisine at Pumpkin (1713 South St.) in late 2010 and took Ian Moroney and Hillary Bor's BYO in a daringly personal direction, just got the keys to his first-ever solo restaurant. The Bucks County native, who's cooked locally at Lacroix and Blackfish and has stints at meccas like French Laundry, Alinea, Tru and Charlie Trotter in his arsenal, has partnered with the Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation, which owns the small space at 1911 E. Passyunk that should open by late August. Construction is set to begin sometime in June for the restaurant, a 30-or-so-seat BYO that doesn't have a name just yet.
"It'll be more French than [my food] at Pumpkin," says Kearse. "A little more dialed in, a little more finesse ... very creative, but nothing too crazy. I'm very excited for it." Small menu — think five starters and five entrées ($25ish price point). Outdoor seating and Sunday brunch are also in the blueprints. Kearse plans on continuing his gig at Pumpkin right up until he opens. "I don't need time off," he says.
Photo: Drew Lazor
Kevin Sbraga, who we reviewed in the winter, is easing into spring. From Monday, April 23 to Thursday, April 26, the Top Chef winner will be previewing his new warm(er)-weather menu items at five-course chef counter tastings at his restaurant, Sbraga (440 S. Broad St.). Think parsley risotto with snails, chanterelles and sorrel; branzino en croute with charcoal oil, spring garlic soup and grapes; and a Thai take on chicken and dumplings with green curry sauce and coconut rice foam. The preview tasting is $55, and with seating for only six at the chef's counter, reservations are highly suggested. Two seatings, 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Get on it.
Photo: Jason Varney
Love us some anonymous food tweeters here at Meal Ticket, and this one's a new fave: The Sorry Thomas Keller account (@SryThomasKeller), comprising the honest admissions of a cook working in a kitchen whose standards might appall the French Laundry legend. Mission statement: "These tweets are an open apology to Thomas Keller and every other great chef out there. We could be like you all, but thats a lot of work."
As the first of the big Navy Yard food benefits (Great Chefs, benefitting Alex's Lemonade Stand, is next), the ACHIEVEability's Food for Thought tomorrow, March 24, is a good one. The goal for ACHIEVEability is to assist low-income parents and homeless families in the area become completely self-sufficient. Tix, ranging from $150 to $300, are available here or by calling 215-748-8800.
Along with honoring the night's speaker, Salome Thomas-EL, author, former principal in the Philadelphia school system and a regular contributor to The Dr. Oz Show, the event features 21 chefs from 21 food operations in the area, some of whom are already lined up for Marc Vetri's Great Chefs event. No menus available, but the list of attendees speaks for itself.
Mark down mid-April for the likely debut of Vernick Food & Drink (2031 Walnut St.), the straight-shootin' name of the restaurant from Greg Vernick, fresh to Philly after years working for Jean-Georges Vongerichten and more recently as chef at NYC's Tocqueville. The South Jersey native has long planned to relocate to the area with his wife Julie to be closer to family, arriving here last year and putting in work at Talula's Garden while his own space came into focus.
"Ultimately, the food is radically simple," says Vernick, a seasoned traveler who's opened Jean-Georges properties everywhere from Qatar to Tokyo, of his own imprint. He won't gravitate toward a particular discipline so much as reinterpret his international experiences for a local audience. "You have to separate yourself and your personal skills from the matter and focus on what people really want to eat." That translates to vegetable- and raw-driven selections, plates both small and large and a section of shareable mains (whole market fish, Amish chicken, bone-in strip loin) roasted off in a Woodstone oven and served with herb vinaigrette and charred lettuces.
Ryan Mulholland, a longtime friend of Vernick's from their Boston U. days, has relocated to Philly from Beantown's Eastern Standard to oversee front-of-house and beverage at VF&D. He's working on crafty beer and cocktail lists and a wine selection that'll span 40 bottles and 12 glasses. Peek below for some teases of dishes that might appear on Vernick's opening menu.
- Charred Spinach and Leek Toast
- Beef Tartare with gaufrettes
- Marinated Artichokes and Ramps
- Ocean Trout with crispy skin and chili
- Market Lettuces with seasonal vegetables, seeds and citrus vinaigrette
- House-made Mozzarella with rhubarb jam and sea salt
- Steamed Mussels with cherry tomatoes in a basil broth
- Potato Ravioli with lamb ragu and English peas
- Braised Beef Cheek with fava beans, celery and a herb salad
- Hand-Cut Buckwheat Pasta with broccoli rabe, spring garlic and lemon
- Pork Blade Steak with onion marmalade, cherries and mustard
On Monday we got the drop on putting up menus for Square Peg — chef Matt Levin's high-end comfort food salon with Barry Gutin and Larry Cohen (Cuba Libre, 32 Degrees) at the one-time home of Marathon Grill at 10th and Walnut. The menus read like a delight, with all-day breakfasts, meatball sandwiches and meatloaf with smashed potatoes (both with Levin's own beef mix) and a daily plate selection including items Levin brought from Adsum, such as homemade pierogies fried chicken.
Now, we snagged Levin, who'll launch Square Peg with a series of soft-open dinners on March 21 (soft-opening lunch starts in April), for a Q&A. He's been busy this week playing with his brand-new fryer, taste-testing spiked-up milkshakes and getting his feet wrapped. You'll find out below what that means after the jump.
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