Having lived in Philadelphia for much of my life, I have to say that there are few events that really blow me away, but this year’s “Feastival” event hosted by Steven Starr, Audrey Taichman, and Michael Solomonov was one of the best events that I have been to in the last decade. It took place at Pier 9, and was a charity event to benefit the Philadelphia Live Arts, and it featured cooking booths with the best of Philadelphia’s restaurants and chefs including outside of the hosts, Marc Vetri, Chip Roman, “Top Chef” Finalist Jen Carroll (Kade Nation will remember our interview in July and who by the way is one of my favorite people on the planet who was just named a “2011 Philadelphia Daily News Sexiest Single” along with me and landed the actual cover of the newspaper on Tuesday because of how gorgeous she is), Parisian dancers on trapeze that were doing Cirque De Soleil acrobatics, an absolutely beautiful set-up inside the warehouse, and electric/people dressed to the nines atmosphere, and sooo much more! Not to mention that the who’s who of the city was there from the “A-List” socialites, to the political powerhouses including Mayor Nutter (Who I got to chat with for a while), and my biggest compliment for the event was what I told Matt The Producer, “This feels like an event in NYC”. Truly amazing job by the hosts and Gloss PR (Thanks again Corie!) for putting on an absolutely amazing event as Kade Nation will see from the videos and pictures below!! Enjoy!!
Steven Starr (President, Starr Restaurant Organization): He is the MichaelAngelo of Philadelphia restaurants (Although he is all over the country now!!), having created the largest, trendiest, and most advanced network of restaurants this city has ever seen. Steven Starr took this city from just a “Good” culinary destination, and through the now 25 restaurants he owns here, NYC, Atlantic City, Florida, and soon DC, transformed Philadelphia into one of the trendiest and hottest culinary destinations in the world. He has brought elements of NYC, Paris, Japan, Italy, etc..and combined it with artistic flair and cutting edge vision to create some of the top restaurants in the country such as Buddakan (The one in NYC is where Sex And The City was filmed and one of my fave places to eat in the city), Continental, Parc, Dandelion, and soo many more!! In the process he turned himself into a celebrity (Although he would never use those words, but I can tell you it’s true) and one of the premiere restaurateur powerhouses in the world!!
Michael Solomonov: He is one of the hottest chefs in the country right now, having just won the “Oscar for Chefs” in winning the James Beard Award for “Best Chef Mid Atlantic”, having arguably the best restaurant in the city (He won Philadelphia Magazine’s Number 1 spot!!) with Zahav, while also owning the delicious Percy St. Barbeque and Federal Donuts, almost beating Iron Chef Jose Garces on Food Network’s Top Rated Iron Chef (He lost only by a few points), and just had an amazing feature written about his story to becoming a Chef in the NY Times this week after the killing of his brother (Such an inspirational and endearing story that made me admire this man so much more!) as well as being featured on ABC New’s Nightline as well.
Audrey Taichman: If the two gentleman above are the current Kings, then now you’re meeting the queen!! Audrey is the owner of two of Philadelphia’s hottest and trendiest restaurants, Audrey Claire and 20 Manning (Both are 2 of my favorites because the food is amazing and the atmospere is always electric), and she herself as transformed herself into one of the cities premier socialites and contributors. She is an amazing combination of beauty, brains, innovation, and class, and has helped spearhead the growing of Philadelphia’s culinary expansion with the opening of “Cook” (Read this amazing article on it by Zagat) which is a 16-seat flexible space that “will provide a platform for classes, conversation, demonstrations, experimentation, and private dining events.” Philadelphia Magazine is a partner in the venture, which has hired Starr Restaurant alum Jackie Baik as Director of Development along with former Philly Homegrown lead Cope and will be programming approximately 20 classes per month, some taught by well-known area chefs (Ranging from legends like George Perrier to “Late Night’s” Questlove). There will be classes in knife and butchering skills, cocktails, stocks and sauces, pasta, home-brewing, pastries and much more, and also cookbook series.
Georges Perrier: There is no one more famous, more well known, or more respected as a chef in this city, and perhaps the culinary world then this man! He is a National Treasure, who is the prolific owner of Philadelphia’s (And one of the world’s) most famous restaurants, Le Bec Fin (The restaurant has been rated as America’s finest French restaurant and the Mobil Travel Guide has traditionally rated it as five stars, the highest overall ranking and honor that any restaurant in the world can receive) and in 2009 the French government even awarded Perrier the Legion d’Honneur for his accomplishments!! To say that Georges Perrier is an icon in the culinary world would be a gross understatement, because he is to Philadelphia what the Renaissance was to Italy, and Le Bec Fin is one of the most famous restaurants in the world (It has been compared to the Philadelphia Museum of Art because of it’s quality and history!!) still even after 40 years, and anyone who has had the honor of eating there will not say anything less then “That was a bucket list experience with some of the most famous celebrities in the world past and present from Mick Jagger to Yul Brenner regarding it as one of their favorites)!! This man is a true legend, and is still after all these years reinventing himself with the opening of his super hot bar/lounge underneath Le Bec called Tryst (The interview below is filmed there, and I can tell you that it is one of my favorite places to go because it feels like NYC or Paris, both romantic, sexy, and just plain old cool all in one!!) as well as other ventures around the city and it’s suburbs. You can not be in this man’s presence and not just feel in awe, and I always ask Chefs that I interview who would cook your last meal, but if you asked me that same question, my answer would be Georges Perrier…