The Gastronaut: Philly vs. Manhattan

Illustration by Kagan McLeod

Illustration by Kagan McLeod

For an ex-lawyer, Mike Traud makes a pretty good cook. Good enough to open Osteria for Marc Vetri and work the line at Zeppoli with Joey Baldino. And for a cook, he makes a pretty good teacher. That’s his gig now—a director at Drexel’s Center for Hospitality and Sport Management. In simpler terms, home of Drexel’s culinary school.

I know, I know. Culinary school? A vain and pointless waste of time and money for anyone serious about cooking. That’s something Traud agrees with, in general terms. He went to culinary school, to Johnson & Wales in Charlotte, and he doesn’t argue when I say JWU is excellent at turning out Applebee’s kitchen managers and not much else. The Culinary Institute of America, the restaurant industry’s Ivy? A diploma mill for over-moneyed kids who think the best thing about being a chef is leaving the kitchen to tape cooking-show pilots or meet with their cookbook agents.
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Philly Chef Conference Coming To Drexel

drexel-chefs-summit-940

You know, it’s about time something like this happened.

On January 13 and 14, Drexel’s hospitality school will be hosting an industry-focused conference called, naturally, the Philly Chef Conference. It’s bringing together pretty much everyone who’s anyone in the scene for two days of panels, talks and demos, all with an eye towards putting local, up-and-coming cooks in the same rooms with the city’s best chefs (and allied tradesmen) and getting them talking.

This whole thing is being driven by Mike Traud–a former cook, chef, lawyer and, currently, program director for the hospitality school at Drexel–who told me that the inspiration for this came, first, from the panel discussions around last year’s StarChefs event at Drexel, but more important, from the problems that chefs have with hanging out with other chefs.

“There’s never time,” he said. Maybe you get two or three guys together for drinks after shift one night, but there’s never a time or place for a whole bunch of chefs to gather and talk about chef-ly things. At least not until now.

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