A Black Tie Affair

The other weekend I was lucky enough to get invited to a big charity event going on here at the URBN home offices. More than 20 top chefs from around Philadelphia came together to serve up tastings in support of Achievability, a charity that provides organizations with solutions to improve physical activity, health, and related outcomes through training and workforce development, strategic consulting services, and real-time measurement tools. It was an inspiring evening and an adventure for the palette, that’s for sure.

Infinity rolls from Zama welcomed us as we walked in

The Long Kiss Goodnight made with Tito’s handmade vodka, apricot/tarragon shrub, sel-de-gris, protégé bitters, ginger beer, and tarragon garnish from Phoebe Esmon, a member of the U.S. Bartender’s Guild.

One of my favorite dishes all night: baked haloumi cheese with fig preserves and pear slaw.

The Brooke Studded Satchel is the perfect dosage of edge added to a formal look

A salted caramel dessert that blew our taste buds away. And, how adorable are these center pieces below made with vegetables and herbs?

With so many top chefs in one place, I had to catch up with one of my favorites, Mitch Prensky from Supper. I live right around the corner from the restaurant, and although it’s a top Philadelphia dinner spot, it’s also one of my favorite stops for weekend brunch. All of the ingredients used in the restaurant come from the privately-owned organic, Blue Elephant Farm, located in Newton Square, PA. Check out an interview with him below, and if you’re ever in the city stop by Supper or his recently opened, Lemon Hill for a simple, fresh, and delicious meal.

What sort of training do you have?

Well, I’m originally from NYC. I trained at the culinary institute 24 years ago. From there I worked at March in NYC, Le Chantilley, Province, and under Bobby Flay.

How long have you been in Philly and when did you open Supper?

I first came to Philadelphia 15 years ago. Supper was opened 5 years ago, and I just recently opened Lemon Hill in the Fairmount area.

Tell me your food philosophy in 2-3 sentences?

Well here it goes: I make the same stuff that you love, but a little different and a lot better. It’s always local, fresh, seasonal, simple, and straight forward – with a twist.

What is your favorite ingredient currently in season?

The ramp – it’s like a wild spring onion, and it has to be found, you can’t farm it. One of my favorite ways to prepare it is in a pesto for pasta or risotto.

What is your guilty pleasure food?

Cold sugared cereal or you know what it really is? Okay this gross…a toasted everything bagel…with cream cheese and bbq chips – smashed. It’s so good.

Besides your own restaurants, where is your favorite place to eat?

Villa di Roma in the Italian Market. It’s this small dark place with all homemade Italian food. My wife and I love to go there.

Tell us your craziest kitchen story?

Well one time, someone forgot to pay our gas bill, which was crazy. We were always on time with the payment, but for some reason or another it slipped through. It was a Wednesday afternoon and we had to cook the entire evening with butane burners. It was like we were camping or catering. Of course it ended up being much busier than we had thought it would be.

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