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Philadelphia Celebrity Chefs

Posted on Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Eat a meal prepared by a culinary star

The History

Philadelphia has always been well known for its great food, but with the advent of reality television, many people are starting to get to know some of the talented chefs that make Philadelphia’s great food.  Many of Philadelphia’s best restaurants are run by chefs who you may recognize from Bravo’s Top Chef, the Iron Chef, and a number of other cooking shows.  If you want to dine in a restaurant helmed by your favorite TV personality, we’ll show you how.
Arguably the first Celebrity Chef to open a restaurant in Philadelphia was acclaimed Japanese Chef Mashaharu Morimoto.  Morimoto started his culinary career in Hiroshima and opened his first restaurant in 1980, becoming a master in Sushi and traditional Kaiseki cuisine.  After moving to America, Morimoto began working in New York City restaurants before finally opening his first American restaurant in Philadelphia.  Opened in 2001 and named “Morimoto” the restaurant has become well known for its amazing food and futuristic interior.
Morimoto’s restaurant brought him wide acclaim here in Philadelphia, but it wasn’t until he began appearing on Iron Chef America in 2005 that the rest of America came to know his skill in the kitchen.  Now with global fame and restaurants across the world, Morimoto is too busy to spend night after night working in his original namesake restaurant as he did a decade ago, but every item on the menu is still made to his exact specifications.  Even without Morimoto’s constant presence, his restaurant remains the height of Japanese cuisine in Philadelphia and a unique dining experience.  While Morimoto may have been the first Iron Chef to call Philadelphia home, he would not be the last.

What to See

 Today, the Iron Chef that reigns supreme in Philadelphia is unquestionably Jose Garces.  While originally from Chicago, Garces honed his skills in Spain before moving to Philadelphia and eventually becoming an Iron Chef in 2009. Garces owns over half a dozen restaurants in Philadelphia, all with their own themes and styles, and each with a menu crafted by Jose Garces himself.  His first restaurant was Amada, which he opened in Old City in 2009.  Amada immediately became one of the best reviewed restaurants in Philadelphia and remains the best of Philadelphia’s tapas restaurants today.  
After Garces’ success with Amada he went on to open Distrito, Garces Trading Company, JG Domestic, Tinto, Village Whiskey and Volver.  Garces even has a café in Dilworth Park next to Philadelphia’s City Hall and a taco truck!  Most recently Garces opened The Olde Bar, an oyster bar that is located in the former home of Old Original Bookbinders.  Bookbinders opened all the way back in 1893 and for decades it was known as Philadelphia’s best restaurant.  Garces designed The Olde Bar to harken back to Bookbinder’s glory days while adding his own personal touch.
Sbraga on the Avenue of the Arts
Philadelphia is also home to a number of Top Chef contestants, including two winners of Top Chef.  Kevin Sbraga, who won season 7 of Top Chef runs his flagship restaurant Sbraga on South Broad Street.  The upscale restaurant features a tasting menu which contains a number of dishes that helped make Sbraga a Top Chef champion.  Sbraga also recently opened a second restaurant in University City called The Fat Ham.  The Fat Ham pays homage to southern cooking in a more casual atmosphere than Sbraga.
Philadelphia is also home Nicholas Elmi, the season 11 winner of Top Chef, and the executive chef at Laurel, one of Philadelphia’s hottest restaurants.  Unlike the large restaurants run by Kevin Sbraga, Elmi’s Laurel is a small BYOB in South Philadelphia that seats only 22 people.  The restaurant which is not even two years old has already won an impressive amount of accolades.  It was named the best restaurant in Philadelphia in 2015 by Philadelphia Magazine and the 8th best restaurant in the entire country by GQ Magazine.  Laurel was also a semi-finalist for the James Beard Award in 2014 and 2015.  If you want to dine at Laurel during your trip to Philadelphia, be sure to plan ahead, Laurel is fully booked months in advance.

Insider Info

Aside from Philadelphia’s many hometown chefs that run amazing restaurants in the city, there are also quite a few celebrity chefs who have brought their food to Philadelphia.  The Food Network’s Bobby Flay opened a location of Bobby’s Burger Palace in West Philadelphia.  With a menu that contains burgers, fries and milkshakes, Bobby’s Burger Palace presents the opportunity to taste a menu designed by a celebrity chef without breaking the bank.
Carlo's Bake Shop Philadelphia
Philadelphia is also home to a location of Carlo’s Bake Shop.  The original Carlo’s in Hoboken New Jersey became famous as the location of TLC’s show Cake Boss.  The Cake Boss himself, Buddy Valastro opened Carlo’s Bake Shop in Philadelphia just recently in 2015.  At the Philadelphia location you can purchase some the amazing baked goods you’ve seen on Cake Boss without any of the drama depicted on television!


Varies by restaurant

Additional Information

723 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
217 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
125 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
440 South Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19146
3131 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
1617 East Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19148
3925 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
2101 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
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