Foobooz After Dark: Leigh Needham and Jeff Froehler at Vegan Commissary

Foobooz After Dark (Photography by Bethani Zeller)

Before I begin my story, I’d like to first confess something:

I never believed in vegan food. It always stood as this ridiculous symbol for a movement that tried too hard and failed to prove anything to the “real food” community. It added no substance, and subtracted even more, and in the end, there was always something left to be desired. It was a cuisine full of soul-sucking impostors, phonies and shams. So I gave up on it.

But the movement shifted. Places like HipCityVeg opened—that was my first reentrance to the cuisine. A few years ago, I took a bite of their fajita wrap and lost my mind. A few more trips back, and a visit to Vedge sealed the deal. These chefs weren’t aiming to convince anymore—they were showing off. Vegan options have grown in Philly since—all the way into South Philly, even. Which, admittedly, was expected given the gentrification eruption rolling there over the past decade. Now, on the corner of 11th and Morris, Steve Laurence’s Vegan Commissary exists, and the food coming out of that kitchen is as impressive as it gets in this city’s restaurant collection.

And so it begins: a look into our late, late night dinner, put together by a vegan chef, sharing knives with a steakhouse chef, both in a tiny little restaurant/commissary kitchen in South Philadelphia.

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Chef Shuffling: Starr Chefs to Former Starr Chefs

In addition to the big news that Walter Abrams is coming to Philadelphia via San Francisco and the French Laundry to be the new guy at Le Bec-Fin, there is a lot of other chef news.

Mike Santoro, who was the opening chef at Talula’s Garden and came to Philadelphia from DC’s Blue Duck Tavern, is opening his own restaurant in the former James space on 8th Street. Eater reports that Michael Dorris will be his partner and they are aiming to open in June. [Philly Eater]

What’s happening in the Starr System »