Essen Bakery (Outstanding Baker semifinalist) – Facebook
This story has been updated.
The almighty James Beard Awards Committee rarely ever left its comfort-zone when it came down to Philadelphia restaurants. Year after year, it was always Philly’s ultra-notable restaurants and chef names that made the cut — Zahav, Vedge, Vernick, Fork; Vetri, Starr, Solomonov — with the occasional nod to any Philly talent considered under-the-radar on the national scale, e.g. Joe Cicala, Konstantinos Pitsillides, Andre Chin and Amanda Eap (Artisan Boulanger Patissier). That’s not to say those big-name nominations weren’t deserved — they absolutely were — it’s just that there’s so much more to this city than Zahav and Marc Vetri. The rest of the country just isn’t aware.
But for whatever reason, this year, Philly-area chefs and restaurants, both big and small, caught the committee’s attention. Check out who’s repping Philly in 2017:
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2016 was a big year in Philly’s restaurant community. We saw the openings of some of the best restaurants in the city–and a couple of the worst. We saw a continued revision of the city’s signature style–this kind of casual-local, over-educated, multiply-influenced neighborhood-level version of new New American that is unique to Philadelphia–and saw a kind of ennui settling into the heart of its cuisine. Fine dining took a few more body blows. Fast-casual continued to boom in a huge way. Our chefs expanded outside the bounds of the city and suburbs as Philly became a national force in cuisine, and we saw some big time national restaurateurs looking at Philly with hungry eyes and wondering what THEY could do here.
So yeah, it was an important year. A formative one. And Foobooz and Philadelphia magazine were there for all of it. This week, we’re looking back at some of the biggest names and biggest moments of the year gone by, and where better to begin than with the most important restaurants of the year?
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This Sunday, November 20th, Martha in Kensington is throwing an apple-themed dinner to highlight the many varietals of apples you’ll find in the Philadelphia region. There will be 14 apple varietals featured in the $35 per person, vegan dinner.
Martha’s Jon Medlinsky will be joined by Ben Wenk of Three Springs Fruit Farms and Vincent Finazzo of Riverwards Produce. Wenk and Finazzo will share their knowledge about apples for the assembled.
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