Thursday, July 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 3:29 PM
Wajih Abed and Fergus Carey at Fergie's new beer garden, 1214 Sansom St. (MICHAEL KLEIN / Philly.com)

Everybody is getting into the pop-up beer garden act, Fergus Carey was saying to himself recently.

Fortunately he and business partner Wajih Abed have an empty lot next door to their Fergie's Pub at 1214 Sansom St.

Starting Wednesday, July 16, they'll have a tent, picnic tables, light strings, and 4 drafts (Sixpoint Apollo Wheat, Sierra Summerfest, Lagunitas Dogtown Pale Ale and Angry Orchard Cider, all $6).

POSTED: Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 2:03 PM
Dining room at Avance, 1523 Walnut St., Philadelphia. ( DAVID M WARREN / Staff Photographer )

Avance - Justin Bogle's upmarket American on Walnut Street - seems to have dodged a bullet.

Its landlord's demand for eviction is on hold, per a filing yesterday in Common Pleas Court.

Avance's initial landlord was chef Georges Perrier, who operated Le Bec-Fin there for three decades. But Perrier lost 1523 Walnut St. in a sheriff's sale.

POSTED: Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 11:22 PM
The future Tuk Tuk Real at 429 South St. (MICHAEL KLEIN / Philly.com)
What is a Thai taqueria?

We're about to find out.

Thai chef Alex Boonphaya, who owns Circles Contemporary Asian Cuisine, is partnering with his Mexican-born sous chef, Silvestre Rincon, on a place called Tuk Tuk Real, which they describe as a taqueria merging Thai and Mexican influences and ingredients.

POSTED: Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 12:47 PM
Chef Michael Cappon. (MICHSEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)

Six months after leaving, chef Michael Cappon is returning to Conshohocken's Spanish-Mediterranean bar-restaurant Isabella (382 E. Elm St.)

Cappon, who had worked for a food distributor, starts Thursday. His new menu - replacing that drawn up by Mario Rodriguez-Feo - starts in September.

A statement from owner Tom Richter said Rodriguez-Feo "left to travel and explore new possibilities."

POSTED: Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 12:13 PM
Guy Fieri's Chophouse

Poor Guy Fieri.

You blast the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives host's spiky peroxided hair, his hyperkinetic finger-pointing, his blathering of catch phrases, and his fulsome raving about any food that gets within two feet of his pie hole.

Of course, while you trash him, he is laughing all the way to the bank - in the driver's seat of his $200,000 Lamborghini.

This month, Fieri opened Guy Fieri's Chophouse at Bally's in Atlantic City. What with Steve Martorano newly open at Harrah's, it looks like Atlantic City - or at least parent company Caesars - is going for bad-boy brash these days.

POSTED: Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 4:22 PM
Teen competitors Alexandria Brooks (left), 16, and Dante Foggy, 17, as seen on Food Network's Chopped, Season 21. (David Lang/Food Network)

Two South Jersey teens are competing on Food Network's Chopped Teen Tournament, a five-part stunt that features 16 culinary whiz kids who are given ingredients and are asked to make magic.

Winners from each episode will head to the finale on Aug. 12, where the winner gets $25,000 and a culinary school scholarship.

Alexandria Brooks, 16, of Voorhees, competes on the premiere Tuesday, July 15 (10 p.m.). She's been cooking for seven or eight years, she told me, and got the bug by watching cooking shows. At 8, she was allowed to solo and made a mac and cheese that was "far from traditional." It had heavy cream, penne pasta, chopped ham, parmesan, mozzarella and white cheeses - no cheddar. On this Chopped, the mystery ingredients included lamb loin chops and kale chips in the appetizer round and french fries and cookies in the entrée round. As Brooks enters 11th grade at Eastern Regional, she has a food blog, YouTube channel and is a teen contributor for Miss Moxie online magazine. This summer, she is working at Kingside restaurant in Manhattan doing prep and utility work. Hmm. Its chef, Marc Murphy, was a judge on her episode.

POSTED: Monday, July 14, 2014, 1:53 PM
Chef Peter Woolsey, creating La Peg restaurant on Delaware Avenue for FringeArts, wears his heart on his ... arm. (MICHAEL KLEIN / Philly.com)

In a steamy July only a few years ago, I could count a few dozen restaurant projects on the books. Economists told us we were in the throes of a recession.

As we veer into the second half of 2014, I now count 85 in various stages - from "imminent" (Independence Beer Garden, across from Independence Mall) to "targeted to open in 2015" (the Cheesecake Factory at 15th and Walnut Streets, now a hole in the ground).

And there are more than 85 cooking at the moment. Many restaurateurs are not eager to share their plans or their progress. Even with a signed lease, there are unions to duck, permits to pull, community groups to coddle and financing to obtain. Better to do it under the radar.

POSTED: Sunday, July 13, 2014, 11:37 PM
"Angry Ralph’s Lobster Mac and Cheese," by Ralph Mazzocchi of Lancaster, is the Philadelphia episode winner on "Frankenfood." (MICHAEL KLEIN / Philly.com)

Bobby Fisher, chef at Molly Malloy's in Reading Terminal Market, was the guest judge on last night's Philly-shot episode of the Spike TV comedy/cooking show Frankenfood.

Not only did he judge hundreds of kooky dishes alongside series hosts Josh Capon and Tony Luke Jr., Fisher now has to cook the winning dish every day for three months.

That would be "Angry Ralph’s Lobster Mac and Cheese," which last night made $10,000 for contestant Ralph Mazzocchi, chef-owner of Ralph's in Lancaster, a takeout shop.

About this blog
Michael Klein, the editor/producer of philly.com/Food, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here. Reach Michael at mklein@philly.com.

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