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5 Philly Chefs Dish on Their Favorite Comfort Foods

By Magdalena Becker and Bernie Rodgers | April 22, 2020 | Food & Drink

It’s no wonder that Philly is a regular destination for the James Beard Foundation’s prestigious Taste America Pop-Up Dinner. With an abundance of culinary creations—from refined American classics at Talula’s Garden to Mediterranean-inspired dishes at Barbuzzo—the city is a haven for foodies and chefs alike. This all-star line-up of local restaurant moguls share the comfort foods that make them melt.

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Aimee Olexy, Owner of Talula’s Table, Talula’s Garden and Talula’s Daily

THE DISH: Grits

“When you ask about comfort I say...G.R.I.T.S. Even the process of making grits is filled with absolute comfort—the cure for all things in all seasons...morning, noon and night. If you must spice it up, I recommend any of these treats: maple Syrup, Beecher's Cheddar, fried ramp leaves, Mazi Piri Hot Sauce, jalapeno or a pile of tender South Carolina shrimp. ”

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Steve DiFillippo, Owner/Chef of Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse

THE DISH: Kobe Beef Meatballs

“One of my favorite comfort foods is, and always has been homemade meatballs. Our Davio’s Kobe Beef Meatballs are inspired by my mother’s family recipe. They are incredibly rich in both flavor and texture and are a staple item on our menu. ”

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Ellen Yin, Founder & Co-Owner of High Street Hospitality Group

THE DISH: Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

"Taiwanese beef noodle soup—I make it every day for my mother and I crave it, too. Essentially, it's braised beef shin with tendons with tomato, star anise, soy, sesame and noodles. Sometimes I’ll mix in ancho pork stew sauce from Fork for added spice when I’m making it for myself.”

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Nicholas Ugliariolo, Chef de Cuisine at Jean-Georges Philadelphia

THE DISH: Spicy Italian Sausage with Cannellini Beans and Tuscan Kale

“This is one of my favorite comfort foods and is relatively easy to make at home. It can be as intricate as you'd like if you make the sausage, cook the beans and bake the bread. Alternatively, you can support local vendors by ordering groceries to your home. Once plated, torn chunks of fresh bread will go a long way. This is one of my go-to meals that I've enjoyed numerous times at home.”

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Valerie Safran, Co-Owner of Safran Turney Hospitality

THE DISH: Pasta

“For me, it can be almost any pasta dish – and the bigger the pasta dish, the better! However, if I had to pick one then it would be a big bowl of spaghetti & meatballs…now, I know I’m biased, but the spaghetti & meatballs in particular at our restaurant Little Nonna’s always does the trick!



Photography by: From top, photo: courtesy of Aimee Olexy; courtesy of Davio's; by Catherine Karrow; by Christian Horan; by Neal Santos