It Was Philly’s Year at the 2017 James Beard Awards

james-beard-awards-940

It was all fun and games when the James Beard Foundation announced Philadelphia’s semifinalists back in February. In previous years, only our industry’s biggest names ever made the cut, but for whatever reason, this year, they took notice of our city’s BYOBs, tiny bakeries, taquerias, and the women who make our scene so great.

A month later, the finalists were announced. That list was less surprising but still exciting. Our biggest deal restaurant group (CookNSolo) got a lot of attention: Michael Solomonov was up for Outstanding Chef, Zahav for Outstanding Service, and pastry chef Camille Cogswell for Rising Star Chef Of The Year. The Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category was a big one for Philly, too, with Vedge’s Rich Landau and Greg Vernick from Vernick Food & Drink still in the running. Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione was competing for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional and Stephen Starr capped the list as the lone Philly finalist for Outstanding Restaurateur.

Last night, the James Beard Foundation announced the 2017 awards recipients (chef and restaurant categories), and Philly won big.

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Monday Morning TL;DR: Just Another Story About a Vegan Strip Club

Photo via Grubstreet

Photo via Grubstreet

Happy Monday, everyone? If you’ve found yourself here yet again, that means you’re wondering what that special button on Donald Trump‘s desk does. No, not that button. The other one. And also maybe what Stephen Starr had to do with the Fyre Festival (nothing) or how to get into the artisanal candy business (hint: you’ll need a briefcase and a bicycle).

Well don’t worry. We’ve got all the answers for you right here. But this week, let’s begin with an opening for what some people (not me) are calling the greatest job in the world: Michelin Guide inspector.

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Fyre Festival’s Food Fiasco Is Not Stephen Starr’s Fault

fyre

At this point, you’re probably well aware of the Fyre Festival disaster unfolding in the Bahamas. The short and sweet of it: rapper Ja Rule and tech tycoon Billy McFarland set out to host an ultra-high-end, VIPs-only music festival on the Islands of the Exumas. It came with its own video starring Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski. People who bought tickets to the festival were promised “first-class culinary experiences and a luxury atmosphere”, which meant everything from chartered yachts to morning yoga to food catering by Starr Events. But when guests arrived on Thursday, they were met with, as the New York Times put it, “soggy tents, bad food, and general disappointment verging on panic”. Obviously, the festival’s been postponed until further notice.

The “bad food”, by the way, was a styrofoam take-out box filled with sliced bread, cheese (not grilled cheese), and salad.
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What’s New, Stephen Starr?

(AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

(AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

It’s been a while since we’ve heard Stephen Starr’s name being whispered in Philly.

He’s got the number one restaurant in all of New York City, he’s opening restaurants in France — at this point in his career, he’s outgrown whispers. But lately, his name keeps popping up, what with two new restaurants opening in Rittenhouse Square and another rumored to open in the old Cosi space at 15th and Locust. So Foobooz decided it was time to check in with our city’s celebrity restaurateur to see how his Philly empire’s shaping up in 2017.

First things first: Starr will not be opening at 15th and Locust Streets.

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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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Stephen Starr Still Has Plans For Philly

Stephen Starr

Stephen Starr

Stephen Starr is having a big year. There was the surprise Paris restaurant opening. Le Coucou (the New York restaurant he’s doing with partner Daniel Rose) got named as the best restaurant of 2016 by Pete Wells. And he currently has 33 restaurants up and running in Philly and elsewhere.

And in this month’s Vanity Fair, he gets a big interview in which he talks about his sudden success, getting fired from his first DJ job, his fear of heights and, most important to us here at Foobooz World HQ, his future plans for restaurants in Philly.

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Stephen Starr Restaurant in NYC Tops New York Times List

Stephen Starr landed a major restaurant plaudit in the New York Times today.

Well-respected critic Pete Wells, famed for his scathing reviews of Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen & Bar and Señor Frog’s, put Starr’s Le Coucou at number one on his Top New York Restaurants of 2016 list.

“The genius of this project from the chef Daniel Rose and the restaurateur Stephen Starr is that it gives us almost everything we loved about New York’s old-line French restaurants without the things we didn’t,” Wells writes. “The dining room isn’t stuffy, the service isn’t snooty, and people don’t get seated in Siberia if their pronunciation of boeuf bourguignon doesn’t have the right backhand spin.” Read more »

Stephen Starr Goes International

Stephen Starr

A while back, while chatting with Peter Serpico about his future plans with boss Stephen Starr, he told us that Starr was totally focused on a project in NYC with chef Daniel Rose–a collaboration between the two that involved the opening of a very French restaurant in New York (which turned out to be Le Coucou and opened over the summer) and some other “unnamed French restaurant” that might (or might not) be opening in New York a few months later.

Well, as things turned out, the timeframe was more or less right, but the location? Not so much. Because back in October, Starr and Rose very, very quietly opened a restaurant in Paris called Chez La Vieille.

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