5 New Chefs to Check Out in Philly

By Danya Henninger  |  April 28, 2014
Credit: Danya Henninger

Looking for something new to try, but don’t want to give up old favorites? Check out one of these five established restaurants that have recently hired new toques to turn out food.

Talula’s Garden/Talula's Daily
When Aimee Olexy is pleased with something, her happiness is infectious, so we’re already excited about the new executive chef overseeing her Washington Square dining rooms. Jeremy McMillian previously ran the kitchen at the Columbus Circle outpost of A Voce and at Richard Gere’s Bedford Post Inn in Westchester County. Olexy has been taking him around to meet all her local suppliers - he recently discovered daylily shoots, thanks to a farmer outside Kennett Square - so expect lots of new spring dishes on the menu (210 W. Washington Sq.; 215-592-7787).

Forage American Brasserie
On May, 1, the former Vella Grill in Exton will officially take on this new name (it’s already soft-open) and with it, a new concept and chef. Owner Derrick Wheeler tapped Ralph Fernandez to manage and run the kitchen, building on his experience at White Dog Cafe, Moshulu and Harrah’s Chester. Look for snacks, small plates, toasts and entrees built around local ingredients on lunch and dinner menus that change seasonally (120 Woodcutter St., Exton; 610-524-3334).

Justin Perdue is now overseeing food at the Sofitel in Rittenhouse, including the ground-floor restaurant. Previously sous chef at the Sofitel Chicago, Purdue is a French Culinary Institute grad who’s worked under Bobby Flay and Rick Bayless. His new spring menus will feature vegetables, herbs and honey from the hotel’s rooftop garden and two new beehives (120 S. 17th St.; 215-569-8300).

El Vez
When Dave LaForce left to open the brand new NYC outpost of this exuberantly modern Mexican, Stephen Starr called on Kevin Taylor to take up the mantle at the 13th Street original. Taylor is a New Jersey native and CIA graduate who discovered Tex-Mex cooking at The Mansion on Turtle Creek resort in Dallas. After honing his technique at Virginia’s Little Washington, he returned to Mexican cuisine running the kitchen at South Jersey’s Los Amigos, before being promoted in Philly (121 S. 13th St.; 215-928-9800).

Lloyd Whiskey Bar
The drinks were always the main draw at Scott Coudriet’s East Girard hang - he is a former bartender at NYC’s Whiskey Ward - but now there’s reason to visit for the food, too. Waldemar “Val” Stryjewski has been cooking up a storm since landing at the Fishtown joint after leaving Le Cheri (before that he was running + bar). Look for refined pub fare - there’s a triple-decker burger with bourbon pork belly, cheese plates and fingerling potato skins with duck and ramps (529 E. Girard Ave.; 215-425-4600).