For those of you who care about restaurants and chefs (and I mean really care about restaurants and chefs), one of the most maddening and mysterious stories of the past year has been the on-again/off-again promise of Speck Food + Wine–the never-opened (but widely theorized about) modern culinary wonderland by chef Shola Olunloyo. The man had done private, half-secret dinners that had become legendary among Philly’s swells, but never had a restaurant for the masses.
That was supposed to change with the opening of Speck which, itself, was supposed to be the culinary centerpiece of the Piazza at Schmidts in Northern Liberties. But then…
Plans took shape in the spring of 2010. Presided over by Shola Olunloyo, the city’s most mystifying chef, the bistro was supposed to be the fine-dining showpiece of Bart Blatstein’s Piazza at Schmidts in Northern Liberties. Then, in March of this year, Blatstein locked Olunloyo out, effectively closing Speck before it even opened.
The million-dollar fiasco seems like a simple tale of a virtuous artist, an avaricious businessman and their inability to compromise. We all know how that story ends.
So much for simplicity.
Over on phillymag.com, Franz Lidz has the whole story of Shola, Blatstein and Speck–from the cook’s enigmatic beginnings, through his rise to darling of Philly foodies, to the mess at the Piazza. It’s a great restaurant-world story, filled with money and ego and liquor and all the other elements that tend to haunt these kinds of tales. You wanna know what truly happened with Speck? Read on…
Shola vs. Blatstein: The Saga of the City’s Most Mysterious Chef [Philadelphia magazine]
Photo courtesy Ed Cunicelli