who grew up eating venison and molasses cookies, hunting and fishing, and pulling turnips from his great grandfather’s farm starts flipping through wild game cookbooks and the regional American recipes in James Beard’s American Cookery.
He eventually stumbles upon Dr. William Woys Weaver’s Pennsylvania Dutch Country Cooking at a local bookstore and his passion for regional food cultures inspires him to attend culinary school at Pennsylvania College of Technology.
He goes on to work for three James Beard Award winning chefs (Barbara Lynch at No. 9 Park in Boston, Jean Joho at Everest in Chicago, and Joseph Lenn at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee).
In 2010, he moves to Philadelphia to work as a sous chef at the Yardley Inn before becoming head chef of Farmicia and then executive chef at Johnny Brenda’s in Fishtown.
Throughout the years, his curiosity about the cuisine rooted in the country culture of his childhood leads him to explore Pennsylvania culinary history.
He finds recipes that used to be all the rage in Philadelphia like turtle soup, catfish and waffles, and ham pot pie. Dishes that have long since fallen out of fashion from a time when local shad, carrier pigeons, cranes, beaver, and frogs were popular delicacies.
He thinks, what if a chef revived these dishes and reintroduced them to diners?
And what if the indelible childhood sense memory of the bounty and care of homemade food from his grandparents’ farmhouse—the comforting roasts, lucious mash, “seven sweets and sours” accompaniments and tables of handmade desserts paired with seemingly bottomless tins of cookies—could be refashioned into a fine-dining experience?
Take that slice of local culinary history and combine it with a celebration of a chef’s personal history rooted in the resilience of country living and you get Elwood. Come on by.