Web Original: Critic’s Notebook: Where Have All the Good Chefs Gone?

Last weekend, a good friend of mine spent the weekend in Philadelphia. Our food events included dinner, drinks and brunch for eight. Guess who was in charge of restaurant and bar arrangements? From the start, I knew brunch was a no-brainer: We’d go to the Ugly American. Brunch there used to mean dreamy homemade baked goods, like cinnamon-scented sticky buns and hearty, hangover ending dishes like buttery biscuits slathered in sausage gravy. But almost immediately upon arrival it was clear that chef Dave Gilbert and his pastry-genius wife Carla had left the building. (Gilbert’s now sous-chef at Bar Ferdinand.) Gone are the biscuits and breakfast cakes; only sloppily cooked diner staples like singed eggs and burnt bacon remain.

It gets worse. Dominique Filoni, whose cooking I extol in the current issue, has left Parc. And Terence Feury, the fish maestro who helped make Maia this year’s best new restaurant in the ‘burbs, is no longer cooking there. No word yet where Filoni or Feury will be stationed next, but best-case scenario when a chef leaves, someone who has worked closely under the departing chef will take the wheel and keep quality high. (Matyson and Marigold Kitchen come to mind.) Hopefully that’s what will happen with Parc and Maia, but I’m afraid the Ugly American as we have loved it is simply a thing of the past.