PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s no secret, Philadelphia’s food scene is hot. And it just got turned up another notch, with Zahav being name the best restaurant in the country by the James Beard Foundation.
Philadelphia entered the national culinary conversation in the early 1980s with George Perrier’s Le Bec Fin. From then on, Philadelphia’s palate has craved more credit for its food scene. Now, the spotlight is on.READ MORE: Four Children Among Five Killed In Pottstown Home Explosion, Police Say
“We are from San Francisco, with a great food scene,” one tourist said.
In Philadelphia, these strangers share an appetite.
“I don’t know that we are going to be able to get in, but we will try,” the San Francisco native said of Zahav.
“We specifically came down here to Philadelphia because we have always wanted to eat at Zahav,” a New York couple said.
And so do lots of others.
“We made this reservation two months ago with a platinum AmEx, and the only time we could get was 5:30 p.m.,” the New Yorkers said.
Perfect timing, because less than 24 hours prior, Zahav was named the best restaurant in the United States by the James Beard Foundation, which is the so-called Oscars of the culinary industry.READ MORE: Beach Erosion Will Keep One-Third Of North Wildwood Beaches Closed Memorial Day Weekend
“He’s taking Israeli cuisine and and taken it to a different level that you haven’t seen anywhere else, and the fact that he’s done that in Philadelphia is really fun,” chef Gary Trevisani said.
Trevisani is the vice president of pastry and culinary arts at Walnut Hill College. He’s talking about Zahav co-owner and chef Michael Solomonov.
“Michael has put us on the map again,” Trevisani said.
The Philadelphia food scene has been marinating for four decades, awaiting true national recognition. With Zahav now earning Philadelphia its first James Beard distinction of the highest caliber, student chefs are paying attention.
“I hope it inspires them to know that we can attain such goals,” Trevisani said.
“It’s like, ‘Oh, this is local in my hometown. Like, if they can do it, I can do it too. It’s not just you need to go to France, you need to come from riches — no, you can be anybody,'” Walnut Hill College student leader Stephanie Sinclair said.
Any and everybody will likely be coming in for a taste — good if you’re in the business of great food, less savory if you’re not a fan of crowds.
“Philadelphia food is just amazing. It’s our best-kept secret, so this let the cat out of the bag. We are a little worried about that,” one Philadelphia resident said.MORE NEWS: CBS3 SummerFest: 2 St. Joe's Grads Bringing New Tiki Cruise Experience For Adults To Wildwood
Everyone I spoke to, I asked if Philadelphia deserved to be known as more than just a cheesesteak town. Everyone said “yes,” and also said the cheesesteaks are great.