James Beard Finally Acknowledges Philly’s Little Guys (and Gals) for its 2017 Semifinalists List

Essen Bakery (Oustanding Baker semifinalist) - Facebook

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 CicalaKonstantinos PitsillidesAndre 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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Taking a Stand for Immigrants and Undocumented Workers at Le Virtù

Joe Cicala at La Panarda | Photo by Alex Tewfik

Photo by Alex Tewfik

Look, there’s a long story to this and there’s a short one. A complicated one and a simple one.

The short, simple version is this: On March 15, Le Virtù is hosting a dinner to benefit PAUWR (Popular Alliance for Undocumented Workers’ Rights), a group working toward gaining legal status for this group. Chef Joe Cicala and his sous chef, Poli Sanchez, will be working together to create a four-course “Sanctuary Supper” with a menu where each course includes both a Mexican and an Italian component. The dinner, including a wine pairing, starts at 6:30pm and will cost you $120 per person (not counting tax or tip), and all profits will go to PAUWR as part of a national fund-raising campaign to help them continue to fight in what is becoming an increasingly adversarial political environment.

You wanna help? Go eat dinner. That’s the simple version. But like so many things these days, the motivations behind it are complicated. Why Le Virtù is doing this dinner, how they got connected with PAUWR and why owner Francis Cratil Cretarola thinks that this kind of event at this time in history is so important? That’s the long story.

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How to Super Bowl Like a Pro This Sunday

Revolution Taco/Official

Revolution Taco/Official

Maybe you’ve got the most incredible buffalo chicken dip recipe known to man, or maybe you enjoy grilling in the cold. Maybe you’re just some sort of crazed masochist who actually enjoys holing up in a kitchen while your friends and family have all of the fun without you. Sane people? They like to relax on Sundays — especially Super Bowl Sundays — and you can too if you let a bunch of these Philly pros do the work for you.

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Watch: The Story of South Philly Barbacoa’s Cristina Martinez

Cristina Martinez in the cart days | Photo by Emily Teel

Cristina Martinez in the cart days | Photo by Emily Teel

As part of Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants coverage, the magazine produced a video on Cristina Martinez, the undocumented Mexican chef who runs the #6 restaurant on that list, South Philly Barbacoa. If you don’t know the story of Martinez and her husband Benjamin Miller it is a must-watch video.

And even if you do know the story, in this election year, it is a good reminder that immigration doesn’t just happen in a theoretical world, the struggles, successes and frustrations play out right here on the streets of Philadelphia and very often, in the kitchens of our favorite restaurants.
Watch the video »

South Philly Barbacoa Named to Bon Appetit Top Ten

Lamb tacos at South Philly Barbacoa | Photo by Emily Teel

Lamb tacos at South Philly Barbacoa | Photo by Emily Teel

Bon Appetit has announced its annual Hot 10 list of the best new restaurants in America and Philadelphia’s South Philly Barbacoa placed 6th on the list. Deputy editor Andrew Knowlton and senior editor Julia Kramer traveled more than 5,700 miles to more than 40 cities to create this list of the best new restaurants in the country.

But hurry if you want a torta »

Philly Style Bagels Gets Best New Sandwich Nod

The Classic Lox Sandwich Philly Style Bagels

The Classic Lox Sandwich
Philly Style Bagels

Bon Appetit is back praising Philadelphia. A week after naming South Philly Barbacoa and Wm. Mulherin’s Sons among the 50 best new restaurants in the country, the magazine crowns Philly Style Bagels’ Classic Lox on a bagel as the best new sandwich in the country.

Editor Andrew Knowlton and Julia Kramer boast that whatever you put on this bagel, it will be “life-changing.”

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Two Philadelphia Restaurants Land on Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants List

Pizza Room at Wm. Mulherins Sons | Photo by Matthew Williams

Pizza Room at Wm. Mulherins Sons | Photo by Matthew Williams

Today Bon Appetit rolled out its 50 Best New Restaurants for 2016 and two Philadelphia restaurants make the cut. One might have been expected, the other is a surprise but a mighty deserving one. Slick Wm. Mulherin’s Sons is the expected choice, what with its gorgeous redo of a century old building and with celebrated chef Chris Painter in the kitchen. The magazine praises the pastas and pizza while also remarking on the cocktails coming from the bar.

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Bon Appetit Highlights Philadelphia in Travel Issue

Bon Appetit's Travel Issue, How to Devour America's Best Food Cities | Instagram

Bon Appetit’s Travel Issue, How to Devour America’s Best Food Cities | Instagram

Philadelphia gets a six page spread in Bon Appetit’s May issue on travel. Bon Appetit’s Editor in Chief himself, Adam Rapoport spends 32 hours in town with co-worker and former 12 Steps Down employee Amiel Stanek. The pair get local help from W/N W/N Coffee Bar co-founder Anthony Fulvio as they eat and drink their way through town.

On the high end, the crew hits Vernick Food and Drink, Zahav, Kensington Quarters and a.kitchen. But they also hit small spots like Stargazy, Philly Style Bagels, Tortilleria San Roman, South Philly Barbacoa and Café Diem.

It’s an impressive 32-hours of food and drink. And at six pages, is as many as any other city is allotted in the issue.

Full list of spots mentioned »

South Philly Barbacoa’s Benjamin Miller Hosting Right to Work Events

benjamin-miller-south-philly-barbacoa-400

Benjamin Miller at a barbacoa event.

South Philly Barbacoa’s Benjamin Miller has been a vocal supporter of immigrant restaurant workers and he is going to be hosting a series of events to raise awareness and show solidarity with those unable to work legally in the United States. On Monday, November 30th, he is hosting a dinner upstairs at Nomad Pizza. The event will begin at 6:30 with a meet-and-greet, dinner, presentations and live music.

A donation is requested for the dinner and the event will be capped at 50 people. Chefs Nick Macri (La Divisa Meats), Calvin Okunoye (Restaurant Opportunities Center), Cristina Martinez  (South Philly Barbacoa) and Elijah Milligan (H2o Kitchen).

Reservations will be accepted starting at noon on Monday, November 16th. Watch the Facebook page for a number to call.

More on the goals of the event »

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