Sure, it’s still about the food, but these days chefs are thinking brand when they delve into their restaurant empire. Cookbooks, media appearances, television shows … we have raised the occupation to something akin to actors and musicians. And I believe for good reason. Food is an emotional experience, and anyone who can wow our taste buds and steal our hearts in a single bite is worthy of some adoration. Philadelphia’s food scene is full of amazing cooks who have found fame and followers. Check out five of the biggest names to hit the city and where you can get a taste of their talents.
1 Jose Garces
Just looking at the list of establishments that Garces has opened in the past five years can be overwhelming. And with each destination booked in advance and winning accolades left and right, you can only imagine how Garces feels. But yet he powers ahead, competing in and winning Food Network's The Next Iron Chef, taking on competitors in Kitchen Stadium, penning a cookbook called Latin Evolution, purchasing a farm in Bucks County and planning even more restaurants for our area. We think he deserves a break, for sure, but we can't wait to see what he cooks up next.
2 Masaharu Morimoto
He may not live here, but one of television's most famous chefs -- rocking the stage in both the original Japanese-run Iron Chef and the newer American version -- chose to open his first restaurant here. The Old City space is a destination for area sushi lovers as much for the super-fresh fish as the interior design, featuring some serious lighting schemes. Morimoto has also written a serious of cookbooks and opened a second location for his restaurant in New York City.
3 Georges Perrier
Does owning and running the best restaurant in the country give you star status? It did for Le Bec-Fin's Georges Perrier, who opened the French fine dining establishment at the age of only 23 and quickly won national acclaim. While the restaurant has dropped one of its former five stars to become more casual in today's dining atmosphere, it still puts out amazing food. Perrier has also written a cookbook and is working on new ventures around the city.
4 Marc Vetri
The king of Italian cooking, Vetri has been drawing attention since opening his first restaurant, Vetri, and almost instantly having a wait list. Food & Wine named him one of the top 10 new chefs of 1999, and a few years later the James Beard Foundation dubbed him the Best Mid-Atlantic Chef. Now thanks to new restaurants Osteria and Amis, a planned Italian beer bar, plus a cookbook, Vetri's rustic yet polished cuisine is more accessible to Philadelphians. Which is good, because we can't get enough of it.
5 Eric Ripert & Jennifer Carroll
Ripert has been known for years for Le Bernardin, his New York Times four-star-rated restaurant in New York City. But his role as a guest chef on Bravo's Top Chef brought him in the larger public eye. The show did the same for his Le Bernardin sous chef, Jennifer Carroll, who was a contestant. In 2008 the two paired up again to open 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge in the Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia. Carroll, a local girl, was recently back on the air in an All Star season of the show, but was cut in December.