June 4, 2009 |
It was a bit of a surprise all around last fall when Martin Hamann showed up in the sprawling kitchen of Philadelphia's old-line Union League. The accomplished chef, a product of Morton, Delaware County (where his father ran a bakery specializing in Danish and after-church pastries), had spent fully half his 50 years at the classy Four Seasons hotel, working his way up from apprentice to top chef. He'd ascended to that post in 2001 when his friend and mentor Jean-Marie Lacroix stepped down.
September 14, 2010 |
IT'S PRETTY HARD not to recognize former Sixers center Dikembe Mutombo . But Dana Spain , president of Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, says that she couldn't figure out why the 7-foot-2 passenger she spoke French with Sunday on a flight from Paris looked so familiar. Spain, who also works in branding and marketing, said that she and Mutombo talked real estate, including how he hasn't been able to sell his home in Villanova, and only when they traded business cards at PHL baggage claim did Spain get "clued into the fact that I'm a total f---ing idiot," she told us yesterday.
September 14, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - Philadelphia's capital culinary cred was on display here last week, when seven area chefs were named to the American Chef Corps, a new State Department program engaging the country's top toques to foster diplomacy among nations. Chef Joe Cicala of Le Virtú, who was thrilled to be tapped along with some of his "culinary heroes," believes this is an opportunity for him to serve his country with what he does best. Chef Jean-Marie Lacroix, the old-guard French master at the restaurant that still bears his name after his departure, considers it a chance to show the world how far American cuisine has evolved.
January 19, 2012 |
ASK MOST siblings what they like to do together, and breaking down a 200-pound hog isn't usually at the top of the list. Unless the siblings in question are brother/sister chefs Evan and Marcie Turney. The Turneys share a passion for food: Evan is executive chef at Mercato and Varga Bar, which he co-owns; Marcie, along with partner Val Safran, owns Barbuzzo, Lolita and the new Jamonera on 13th Street, among other businesses. So it's not too surprising that the Turneys' idea of a fab brother-sister bonding experience was to enroll in Fleisher's Meats' Butchery 101, a knives-on, five-day artisanal butchering course offered at the well-regarded, family-owned Hudson Valley shop.
August 31, 2008 |
It's a pity the Geneva Conventions haven't been invoked to end the cruel abuses regularly inflicted on Cajun and Creole cuisine hereabouts - horrible bread suffocating the po'boy, gumbos salty beyond belief, gummy rice, unrecognizable jambalaya, odd olive salads that insult the great state of Louisiana. I have taken to squirming and averting my eyes upon encountering Cajun-themed eateries, unleashed by the blackened-redfish craze of the 1980s, still popping up now and then, often in the worst of all possible hands.
December 26, 2010 |
Matt Ridgway calls the slabs that come out of his curing room at PorcSalt, simply, bacon. Which doesn't quite tell the whole story. That the pork bellies come from flavorful, old breeds - Berkshire and Berkshire-Duroc crosses, that last one from Breakway Farms in Mount Joy. That it is cured in the Bucks County honey his father, Josef, collects. Or alternatively - for 10 days - with red Burgundy wine. Or that it is, by design, hot-smoked for 10 hours over fruitwood at temperatures 10 degrees higher than name brands, which renders it (unlike commercial bacons)
May 28, 2009 |
NEW YORK - Dan Barber emerges one recent afternoon from the Union Square Greenmarket with a spring bounty: asparagus, purple kohlrabi, ramps, fiddlehead ferns and dandelion greens. They're luscious, fresher-than-fresh and Barber can't wait to get them into the kitchen. When he does, what will he do with them? The answer is pure Dan Barber. "Not a lot," he says with a smile, sipping iced coffee near the market. "As I get better and better as a chef, I'm doing less and less.
November 4, 2010 |
It was a fine soiree at the Union League last month, champagne flutes bobbing across what was once the North Marble Dining Room, diver scallops seared and plated one by one, and at the caviar station, three types of caviar, best sampled, guests were instructed, by dabbing a dollop just below the first knuckle of the index finger, "the way they taste it in Tashkent. " It was the first anniversary of the 148-year-old club's brave new plunge into finer dining - evident in a $6 million face-lift of the once dreary space; and in a curtain call for snowy-domed Martin Hamann, the League's Doc Halladay of a new chef.
September 1, 2000 |
When William F. "Willie" Wilson retired from the Long Island Railroad, they named a railroad car after him. The "Wilson Special" traveled between New York and Florida, the same route Wilson manned as master chef for about 30 years. Wilson would leave his South Philadelphia home long before dawn and catch the Amtrak to New York to make his LIRR connection. He'd be gone for days at a time, supervising his 80-man galley crew, and sometimes he slept over in New York or Florida to make another run. His penchant for punctuality earned him the nickname "Tick Tock" up and down the LIRR lines.
July 3, 2011 |
Usually, we can only begrudge the über-rich their private chefs. But not this summer at the Jersey Shore, where you can eat like a big shot, too. It just so happens that the two best meals I savored near the beach this season were cooked by chefs who have recently emerged from their clients' luxury cocoons - be they mountain chalets at Lake Tahoe or a penthouse soaring above Washington Square - to grace the suntanned paying public with their...