We Want Answers: Diana Sabater

Photograph by Claudia Gavin

Photograph by Claudia Gavin

When did you first realize you loved to cook?
When I was a kid. My mother and I would watch Julia Child together on Saturdays. We’d jot down a recipe, go to the market and get all the ingredients, and then run home and make it together. My mom was big on cooking Italian and Greek food, but my grandmother taught me the foundation of cooking Puerto Rican food.

You spent 10 years on the police force. How did you end up there?
I joined in 2002. I had just graduated from Temple University with a degree in Latin American studies, and I wanted to become an FBI agent. I took the test for the FBI but didn’t pass, and someone suggested I should become a police officer to get some investigative experience and then maybe reapply. Read more »

Ralph Natale and the Decline of the Philly Mob

Book photo by IStockphoto

Book photo by IStockphoto

Ralph Natale was all of 12 when he first felt a dark, primal urge inside him — the desire to kill another man. On that occasion, the guy on Natale’s bad side was his father, Michael, who ran numbers for the mob.

Michael had decided to punish his boy for missing a curfew by kicking him. “If I had something in my hands, I would have killed him. That’s when I knew what I was,” Natale, the former head of the Philly mob, recalls in the new book Last Don Standing: The Secret Life of Mob Boss Ralph Natale (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press). Read more »

How Matt Klentak Plans to Rebuild the Phillies

Klentak in the team’s under-construction analytics department. Photograph by Chris Crisman

Klentak in the team’s under-construction analytics department. Photograph by Chris Crisman

Matt Klentak agrees to meet me at Citizens Bank Park at two o’clock on a bitterly cold January afternoon. I show up early and kill some time in the lobby. A receptionist cheerily informs me that Klentak’s secretary will come to get me in eight minutes. Not “right away” or “soon” — in eight minutes.

It’s quirkily precise, and I can’t help but ask Klentak about this when I reach his second-floor corner office overlooking the charcoal runway that’s Pattison Avenue. The Phillies’ 36-year-old general manager breaks into a small smile. We’d said we’d sit down at two o’clock, he explains, so it made sense to stick to that plan. And Klentak is all about sticking to plans, particularly the one he and other members of the team’s evolving brain trust have developed to right a ship that lost its way in the wake of the most successful era in franchise history. Read more »

Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Their Wildly Separate Paths to the Sixers

Left: Joel Embiid (Cal Sport Media/Associated Press); right: Ben Simmons (Steven Freeman/NBAE/Getty Images)

Left: Joel Embiid (Cal Sport Media/Associated Press); right: Ben Simmons (Steven Freeman/NBAE/Getty Images)

Ben Simmons wears the face of a kid getting dragged to Sunday school when he’d rather settle in for a Call of Duty marathon with friends. He looks the part, too, a neatly buttoned white dress shirt and skinny black pants clinging to his lanky six-foot-10-inch, 20-year-old frame. His teammates on the 76ers are within arm’s reach, laughing and joking as they go through a pregame practice in gray t-shirts and blue shorts at the Wells Fargo Center.

Simmons wants to be out there with them, but for the moment he can only hover at the edge of the court and stare at the gleaming maple floor and the UFO-size Sixers logo. Pockets of fans who show up early for this mid-December matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers start to notice him standing there — the savior in the flesh. Ben. Ben. Hey, Simmons! Bennnn! He turns and walks down a tunnel to the locker room, frustrated, injured, alone. Read more »

Ellen Gregory’s Family Marks Sad Milestone by Fighting Domestic Violence

Relatives of the late Ellen Gregory (left) will gather at her King of Prussia home Monday, a day after her killer -- her husband, Rafael Robb -- was released from prison on parole.

Relatives of the late Ellen Gregory (left) gathered at her former Upper Merion home on Monday, a day after her killer — her husband, Rafael Robb — was released from prison on probation.

They knew this day was coming.

Ellen Gregory’s family had fought tooth and nail to keep her killer — her husband, former University of Pennsylvania professor Rafael Robb — behind bars for as long as possible. But his release from prison was inevitable; Robb received a 10-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2007, having admitted that he bludgeoned his wife while she wrapped presents a few days before Christmas 2006. Read more »

On the Record With World Cafe’s David Dye

David Dye gets his hands dirty at Main Street Music | Photograph by Gene Smirnov

David Dye gets his hands dirty at Main Street Music | Photograph by Gene Smirnov

The door to Main Street Music swings open, and a windswept-looking David Dye lurches into a room filled with shoppers half his age, thumbing through vinyl like it’s 1970 again.

It’s funny how time works — how you live in a moment that feels like it will last forever, and then suddenly you’re back at the beginning again. Dye has been mulling life’s cyclical mysteries since November, when he announced he would step back as host and producer of World Cafe, WXPN-FM’s nationally syndicated weekday musical cornucopia, after 25 years.  Read more »

Jersey Shore Politics: This Is What Happens When No One’s Looking

A deserted street in Avalon after the shoobies have gone home | Photograph by Eric Prine

A deserted street in Avalon after the shoobies have gone home | Photograph by Eric Prine

THE SKY IS SHAPELESS and gray, looming above Margate like a wool curtain. Dustin Widas sits behind the wheel of a black-and-white Ford Explorer, sizing up empty million-dollar homes for unexpected signs of life as raindrops pitter-patter across his windshield. An inky-black AR-15 rifle is mounted to his right, a few inches from a 20-ounce cup of Wawa coffee.  Read more »

Philly Pays $4.4 Million Settlement For ‘Regrettable’ Police Shooting

CityHall-940x540

One of the most troubling police shootings in recent Philadelphia history has led to a massive payout.

The Kenney administration announced on Friday that a $4.4 million settlement has been reached to resolve lawsuits filed by Philippe Holland, a local pizza deliveryman who was left critically injured when a pair of undercover cops fired 14 shots at him in the spring of 2014.

Read more »

Grossman: Philly “Deserves Better” Than Seth Williams

Former city prosecutor Beth Grossman announces her candidacy in front of a Kensington pawn shop where her family once owned a candy store.

Former city prosecutor Beth Grossman announces her candidacy in front of a Kensington pawn shop where her family once owned a candy store. Photo by David Gambacorta

If you’re going to try to hold a press conference in the middle of Kensington, you have to expect the unexpected.

Former city prosecutor Beth Grossman seemed prepared for most of the little interruptions that came her way on Wednesday afternoon: the occasional burst of thunder from the Market-Frankford El, the get-out-of-my-way horns from passing motorists, the locals who hovered nearby and talked over portions of a short, formal speech that outlined her decision to run as a Republican to unseat her former boss, District Attorney Seth Williams. Read more »

What’s in Store for Philly’s Police Union in 2017

Fraternal Order of Police president John McNesby looks ahead to a busy 2017.

Fraternal Order of Police president John McNesby (left) looks ahead to a busy 2017 that will include supporting a candidate to unseat District Attorney Seth Williams (center), working with state Rep. Martina White (top, right) on a bill that addresses police shootings, and dealing with the uncertain fallout of president-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

John McNesby sounds like he’s in a good mood when he picks up the phone a few days before Christmas. The president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5 is tending to some odds and ends around the office, putting the finishing touches on what has proven to be an interesting year for the union and the 6,100 or so members who make up Philadelphia’s police force. Read more »

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