Hot Chef: Townsend Wentz has a few tricks up his sleeve

Townsend Wentz serves up sophisticated pub fare at McCrossen's Tavern. Credit: Provided
Townsend Wentz serves up sophisticated pub fare at McCrossen’s Tavern.
Credit: Provided

Chef Townsend Wentz want to show you some of his secret moves. Wentz, who has been loyal to McCrossen’s Tavern in Fairmount for nearly three years, collaborates with sommelier Lauren Harris to create sophisticated yet approachable monthly dinner pairings. But that’s only one day a month. We learned what talents Wentz is flexing the rest of the time.

What’s in the works for the next monthly pairing?
Our June 6 dinner will be a beer pairing. It’s my version of French barbecue. I like to keep it fun and summery. We’ve been doing the monthly pairings for going on two years now. It’s fun because it’s an opportunity to step outside what we do on a normal day and offer more of ourselves and our expertise.

So you have a degree in chemistry, biology and psychology?
Well, an associate’s in psychology. I didn’t learn enough to wield it effectively.

How did you end up as a chef then?
I went to Rutgers and cooked my way through college. I started by washing dishes until I had an opportunity to cook.

What do you think of the recent news about Le Bec Fin closing? Is it an end of an era?
Undoubtedly. Georges Perrier did an unbelievable job. He’s been the vanguard of fine dining for, what, 40 years or so? I call that a great run. You’re going to trace a lot of work in the city back to that leadership as far as being the head of the culinary scene. But the dining room and lifestyle of Le Bec Fin is retiring and moving on.

The world is different now and the expectations are different. I think in terms of how the kitchen is run, you’ll still find that: kitchens that are run in that French brigade fashion. That’s important, that creates chefs. That’s the legacy of Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia.

Do you have any summer rituals?
Every summer I take Wednesdays off and I race my sailboat on the Delaware river. Very bourgeois, I know! I used to travel to Key West, racing, when I had more time. My cheesemonger, Rocco Rainone [of Di Bruno Bros.] sails with me. It’s so much fun.


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