PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some of the area’s best chefs who recently got some much deserved national attention are back in their kitchens, but they did take a time-out to savor their awards, with Mayor Kenney.
At Murrell Dobbins CTE High School, near the industrial kitchen, James Beard Award recipients Michael Solomonov, Greg Vernick and Stephen Starr discussed how they got started.
They also offered words of wisdom, including the best paths to success in the industry.
Solomonov, the chef who serves up Israeli cuisine at the acclaimed Zahav in Society Hill, was named the best chef. But he was in the weeds, early on in his career, at the once famous Striped Bass Restaurant, where he was fired after two months. The owner relented, and let him clean up after the other cooks.
“And I worked as hard as I could, said Solomonov. “In six months, I was running the kitchen.”
Chef Vernick, whose upscale restaurant near Rittenhouse Square, won as the best chef in the mid-Atlantic region. One tip, in his words, “catch the goofy old TV shows” of Jacques Pépin, or thumb threw his numerous cookbooks.
“He’s my go-to chef, when I want to look up a recipe,” said Vernick.
Starr, with 31 restaurants in Philadelphia, New York City, Atlantic City, south Florida and Washington, was named the best restaurateur in America. He told the students to learn how chefs became the legends that they are.
“And how they got to where they are,” he said. “It’s important that you respect the history of food.”
Then the students asked about their signature dishes. Solomonov didn’t hesitate.
“Everyone comes for the hummus,” he said. “They don’t care about anything else.’
Vernick says it’s his simple dishes.
“The roasted chicken is something that people go crazy over,” he said.
Starr plugged a dish from his original restaurant, the Continental.
“Cheesesteak eggrolls,” he said.
Students then turned the tables, and served up sample dishes.
Senior Rashia Vaughn said, “I made Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells,” and fellow senior Latisha Jacobs, said “I made Manicotti from scratch.”
At Dobbins, graduating students are prepped for jobs in the food service industry, or more study at a culinary institute or college.