Philadelphia: Food, and almost nothing but Food

Here is why I am in Philadelphia:

10:45-11:45 a.m.

“BACK OF THE HOUSE TO HEAD OF THE CLASS”

Academic Bistro (6th Floor)

Scott Haas, PhD, psychologist and author of “Back of the House: The Secret Life of a Restaurant,” interviews Daniel Giusti, former head chef of Noma and current head chef of Brigaid.

2-2:45 p.m.

“COOKING UP CONTENT: FOOD WRITING FROM A CHEF’S PERSPECTIVE”

Academic Bistro (6th Floor)

Scott Haas, PhD, psychologist and author of “Back of the House: The Secret Life of a Restaurant”
Karen Stabiner, Columbia Graduate, School of Journalism, author of “Generation Chef”, and journalist for Saveur and theNew York Times
Lisa Abend, author of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentices” and food journalist for Saveur and The Guardian

DREXEL UNIVERSITY’s 3rd Annual Chefs’ Conference, and I’m honored to have been invited as a guest speaker to talk about my book, “Back of the House,” and to interview the very estimable Chef Dan Giusti.

I met Dan two years ago in Kyoto; he was then executive chef with NOMA, and I had helped to arrange that entire restaurant’s three day stay at Hyatt Regency.

Being in Philadelphia is a real pleasure.

It’s been about four or five years since I was last here.  Then it was to do a video with Chef Marc Vetri for the Breville food site.  Marc is a very cool guy.

I know the city pretty well, been here a lot since childhood, we used to go on school trips, had relatives outside the city, and wife grew up in Cherry Hill.

So yesterday walked from the Sheraton in University City all the way to 2nd & Market.  Hung out in Reading Terminal, which was a Sunday madhouse, and minus the best thing about it, which are the Amish farmers who sell buttery, salted chickens.

Wound up at Sonny’s: A terrific Philly cheesesteak joint: “With whiz,” and I was good to go.

That night, a lively cocktail reception for guests and sponsors.

Then dinner at Amis, a Vetri place, with D, a college housemate I had not seen in years, and she was as lovely as before.

This morning, it was Spread’s, a Montreal-style bagel place.  Poppy and lox spread!

The food in town is big, a lot of it is salty, and I drank a lot of water.  The food scene is really stunning, easily in the top two on the East Coast, with only NYC better, and flavors are gutsy, influenced by Italy, driven by ingredients, and not about the chef, but rather what’s on the plate.

Philadelphia this visit seems friendlier, more diverse than ever, the geezers who made it unpleasant are either dead, in nursing homes, or in Florida.  The folks I have been talking to have open faces.

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