Michael Schulson Cooks for the “Hot Chicks” — and That’s Sexist

Michael Schulson and his wife, Nina Tinari | Photo by HughE Dillon

Usually, discussions about sexism in the restaurant industry focus on discrimination, harassment, and other barriers to success that women chefs face, or on harassment from customers, coworkers, or supervisors that leaves women who work front-of-house unable to do their jobs.

So it’s disappointing, but not surprising, to hear a prominent and successful business owner’s reductive view that his female customers are more desirable (to his business and to everyone else) if they’re “hot.”

Last week, Philly.com published an interview with restaurateur and chef Michael Schulson. Schulson, the owner of Sampan, Graffiti Bar, Double Knot, and Harp & Crown, among others, recaps career ups and downs, confesses his own non-foodie eating habits, and weighs in on the current state of Philly’s food scene — typical topics for this type of Q&A.

At the end of the interview, Schulson is asked why his restaurants are “such a hit with millennial women.” This was his response:

I have a belief, and I’ve said this for 20 years now: You cook for the hot chicks. And I hope nobody takes that the wrong way because it’s not meant to be chauvinistic or anything. When I think of my wife [Nina], I think my wife is very attractive and smart. I think she’s a hot woman. But when we go out to eat, she’s picking where we’re going out to eat, and cooking for the hot chick means you’re cooking a certain type of item, you’re putting crab, shrimp, lobster, filet — those are the kind of things — tuna, they’re looking for the lighter, cleaner things. That’s what women like to eat. So when they look at a restaurant or a menu, they’re going to pick that restaurant. And then take it further, then you have the single guy. Where does the single guy want to go eat? At the restaurant that has the pretty women. And the pretty women are going to be at the restaurant that serves the food that they want to eat.

Whether Schulson realized it or not, his words exemplify the way patriarchy influences the choices both men and women make, from where we spend our Saturday nights to what foods we decide to put in our bodies.

Let’s unpack this, shall we?

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Beer Garden Madness Continues as Independence, PHS Drop Opening Dates

Photo by Neal Santos

Photo by Neal Santos

It’s the time of year when the deets on soon-to-open beer gardens fly fast and furious. Today, Independence Beer Garden in Old City dropped its start date, drinks list, and menu. And the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society announced its plans for two pop-ups: its flagship near 15th and South and a new University City spot at 36th and Filbert.

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Here’s What You’ll Be Eating When Harp & Crown Launches Weekend Brunch

There are two big changes coming to Michael Schulson’s Harp & Crown in the next couple weeks. First, the restaurant will no longer be serving lunch following Friday, March 31st’s service. From then on, there’ll be happy hour on weekdays starting at 4pm, and then things will just roll right on into dinner. But hey, if you’re in the neighborhood and looking for something to eat before 4pm, Double Knot just a couple doors down (and also a Schulson restaurant) does a great lunch–rice and noodle bowls with some truly dangerous punch to drink–so just go there.

Anyway, that’s the first change. But the far bigger news is that the next day, Saturday, April 1st, Harp & Crown will start offering weekend brunches.

Want to know what they’re going to be offering? Of course you do. Check out the menu and details after the jump.

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Jonathan Petruce Has A New Gig


“I don’t have an official title,” Jonathan Petruce told me when I got him on the phone after yesterday’s review of Cinder went up. “I don’t really have a restaurant either…”

But what the former Cinder chef does have is a new job with Michael Schulson‘s restaurant group. He got it on Wednesday, he tells me. And he hasn’t even really started yet. But he knows one thing: “[Schulson] wants his places to be as close to perfect as possible. And I’m there to help him implement that.”

He chuckles.

“I guess.”

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The Authenticity Trap: Harp & Crown Reviewed

Photo courtesy Will Figg

Photo courtesy Will Figg

On a cold night in December, we threaded our way through the crowds on Sansom Street and found the unobtrusive door. We pushed through the heavy curtains hung to keep the drafts out and stepped into the front room hung with green and living things like a Charleston sunporch, then into the massive, vaulted main space of Harp & Crown, Michael Schulson’s newest experiment in feeding and watering Philadelphia.

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Harp & Crown Does Lunch

The upstairs bar at Harp & Crown | Photos by Arthur Etchells

The upstairs bar at Harp & Crown | Photo by Arthur Etchells

Michael Schulson’s newest project, Harp & Crown, has been running on a dinners-only schedule since opening night. But starting yesterday, they quietly rolled out lunch service, offering all sorts of salads, sandwiches and snacks in the big, upstairs room.

We’ve got a look at the menu for those of you that are interested. No word yet on whether or not you can duck out at noon for a little afternoon bowling between meetings, though…

Show me the menu

Here’s What You’ll Be Eating Tonight At Harp & Crown


Michael Schulson’s new, huge, beautiful and vaguely nautical Center City restaurant, Harp & Crown, is opening tonight. We already got a look inside last week (and came home with pictures), but one thing we didn’t get to see? The opening menus.

Well, now we have them, and they’re a mix of curated charcuterie and cheese, salads, wood-fired pizzas, snacks and full plates upstairs, with a more limited menu (mostly the charcuterie and small plates) available at the bar or downstairs in the hidden basement bar and bowling alley.

Anyway, Karen Nicholas is on board as chef, and I’ve liked what she’s done in the past, so I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do here. You can check out both menus after the jump.

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First Look: Inside Harp & Crown

Harp & Crown: Michael Schulson's latest on Sansom Street | Image via Harp & Crown

Harp & Crown: Michael Schulson’s latest on Sansom Street | Image via Harp & Crown

Harp & Crown is close. It is, by any reasonable measure, already finished. There are some plants that need to arrive. A few walls that need paint. Some stuff that needs to go up on the walls. But the big (seriously big) new restaurant from Michael Schulson (the guy behind Double Knot, most notably) is more or less ready to go. They were cataloging and polishing the glassware when we showed up this morning. Trying to staff up a place that seats more than 150 people (just counting the top floor). And it is gorgeous.

No, seriously. We’ve got the pictures.

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The Leftovers: Double Knot


Stray thoughts, random musings and extraneous details from this week’s review of Michael Schulson‘s new izakaya/cafe, Double Knot.

  • “This is one of the best restaurants in Philadelphia!”

That came from the comments on yesterday’s review, and the guy who wrote it is absolutely right. It is one of the best restaurants in Philadelphia. It’s one of the most ambitious, the most daring, the most exciting in a long time. So why didn’t it score 4 stars?

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What Lies Beneath: Double Knot Reviewed

In the basement of Double Knot | Photo via Double Knot

In the basement of Double Knot | Photo via Double Knot

Breakfast, 9:30 a.m. // Like Garfield and 10,000 novelty t-shirts, I don’t do mornings. Particularly not ones that haven’t snuck up on me accidentally—the sun rising while I’m still out doing whatever it is that insomniac food editors do—and caught me still in last night’s clothes.

One of the reasons I became a writer was so I’d never have to get up before noon. Sadly, somewhere in my youth I missed an important distinction. Some writers get to sleep the mornings away, sure. They’re generally the ones who own more than zero berets and have strong opinions about pencils. And then there are the ones who actually have to make a living.

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