Author opens a cafe

Chef Aliza Green at a table at Baba Olga's Cafe, inside the Material Culture store in Philadelphia. MICHAEL KLEIN /

For the leisurely lot of the cookbook author:

Get up in the morning, test a recipe or two, send off a few pages, collect the big paycheck.

Not quite, says Aliza Green, whose most recent of her 15 books are The Soupmaker's Kitchen and Making Artisan Pasta, both of which received national honors.

"I only wish," said Green, who is just north of 60, "I could make a living off my books."

So Green, one of the first women to head a big-time kitchen in town (DiLullo's), goes to work each day.

Last month, she opened Baba Olga's Cafe inside Material Culture, the worldly home-furnishings store off Route 1 in East Falls (4700 Wissahickon Ave., 215-849-8030).

"This is a good fit for me," she said, sweeping around the knickknack-filled, high-ceilinged showroom that serves as the cafe's dining room. (You can buy the table and chairs you're using, for example.) "I'm the boho type, and I like all the funky stuff."

Green serves scratch soups, hot and cold sandwiches, salads, and desserts. It's open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, till 4 p.m. weekends.


Hot pot spot

Philadelphia's Chinatown now has a restaurant dedicated to shabu, the Asian fondue/hot pot that involves cooking raw meat, seafood, and/or vegetables in a broth at the table. Simply Shabu (1023 Cherry St., 267-273-0354) is the product of Dennis Tuan, raised in Princeton and educated at Rutgers. He spent six months in Taiwan, working with his brother on a food start-up. While that business went nowhere, he gained a love of shabu. He and his wife, Kate, rented the building in shabu-starved Philly. Only a few Chinatown spots offer shabu, and not all the time. Bowls start at $10. It's open for dinner weekdays and lunch and dinner on weekends.


Restaurant weeks

The reservation books are filling up for Center City District Restaurant Week, coming up Jan. 19 to 24 and Jan. 26 to 31, with more than 100 restaurants offering $35 dinner specials (some also offering $20 lunches). After that, East Passyunk gets its turn. The hot slice of South Philadelphia will host its second restaurant week from Feb. 23 through March 1. This time, 24 restaurants will offer lunch and dinner specials for $15, $25, or $35.


Chef chat

Yun Fuentes is out of Jose Garces' new Cuban diner, Rosa Blanca, after less than a month. Fuentes, previously chef de cuisine at Garces' JG Domestic, said he and upper management "didn't see eye to eye." New chef is former Tinto sous chef Jose Olmeda.

Kimpton Hotels has tapped Jorge Chicas as its new executive chef at Red Owl Tavern in the Hotel Monaco on Independence Mall. Chicas - El Salvadoran-born, D.C.-bred, and Culinary Institute of America-trained - replaces Guillermo Tellez, who has returned to Chicago, where he works for Mercadito Hospitality. Square 1682 at Kimpton's Hotel Palomar, also Tellez's previous stop, has localite Caitlin Mateo in the kitchen. Chicas' background includes time with José Andrés' ThinkFoodGroup (including the Bazaar at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills and opening chef at Zaytinya, in D.C.).


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