Philly’s Restaurant Scene, Circa 2012

Posted by Keith Wallace

Nostalgia for Philly Chefs

Long before the pandemic, the Philly food scene was tumultuous. A lot of the great chefs from the early oughts were crashing and burning. The financial crisis of 2007 had really taken its toll, and a lot of chefs never recovered. At the time, we had just started offering our food and wine pairing classes, which drew a number of chefs to the school.

Remember the Food Blogs?

January 2012 was both the high point and the death knell for many food blogs in the city. The writers had gotten so clannish and arrogant by this point they were impossible to be around without vomiting.

We even started a “Best Philly Food Writer” contest to support the scene, with the intention of hiring the best food blogger to a full-time writing position. Dealing with them felt like we in high school again, and we were definitely not the cool kids.

Fortunately, the winner, Tara Nurin, was actually a great writer and an awesome person. But there are only a few Tara’s, so we gave up on the project after a year.

2012 is coming in with a whimper, at least  here in food scene-ic Philadelphia. 

David Ansell

It’s only a few days in, and we are bidding a great chef goodbye.  The days of Pif and Ansell are long over, but David Ansell was a great talent in the kitchen.  It doesn’t surprise us that Foobooz is reporting on his imminent move to Jamaica, though.  Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Guess we can stop hoping he would get his shit together and open up another scene-changing BYO.

Mike Stollenwerk

It’s so very confusing. Fish, which used to be Little Fish in Queen Village, grew up and relocated to Graduate Hospital. But Little Fish remained, but the building fell apart and it had to close, then it relocated to another building a few blocks away. Now big Fish is moving across town to the Gayborhood. But it’s not open yet.  Blah, blah, blah.  

Mike Stollenwerk is a scene-ster favorite, so all this is reported in sparkling detail over the last few months. It’s supposed to be open now, but it’s not. Let’s hope the place lives up to the hype when it opens, whenever that is.

The Rest of the Chefs in Philly

Fairmount remains the only upwardly mobile neighborhood in Philly without a lauded small-plates restaurant. I am sure they are crushed.

Another chef leaves Farmers’ Cabinet. One of the owners’ attitude was fingered for the departure.

Finally, looks like the  Piazza at Schmidts in NoLib has a bit of a restaurant curse on it.  Just a few hours into the new year, and sushi joint Raw went MIA from the same location where Shola’s Speck dreams were dashed.

Not a great way to usher in the new year!

Today is Better

There are a growing number of great restaurants. We keep a list of the top ten BYOB restaurants in Philly. You should check it out!

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