Chef Brad Spence knew he loved to cook from a young age. Initially inspired by his mother, he began working in restaurant kitchens in high school, and after graduating studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Since then, he’s worked with renowned chefs like Mario Batali and was even named a finalist in both 2013 and 2014 for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic award. Spence currently serves as culinary director and partner at Vetri Family Restaurants and when he’s not in the kitchen, the Haddonfield resident enjoys staying active with boxing and spending time with his wife and three kids.
Best late night meal?
My go-to late night meal is the roast duck and dumplings at Sang Kee (238 N. Ninth St.) in Chinatown, simply because duck fat makes me really happy.
Best meal under $10?
For under $10 bucks, grab the pork milanese torta from Los Gallos (951 Wolf St.) because it covers all four of the major food groups: deep fried pork, cheese, beans, mayo and lettuce.
Best hidden foodie gem?
Freddy & Tony’s (201 W. Allegheny Ave.) is Philly’s best-kept secret. I order the Mofongo because it is one of my all-time favorite dishes, and because I love raw garlic!
Best place to dine alone?
Pho 75 (1122 Washington Ave.) because it’s the best pho around and always fresh, but more importantly, because no one bothers you.
Place you always take or recommend for out-of-towners?
At Zahav (237 St. James Place) you can order anything and everything off the menu and it’s all delicious. Plus the lamb shoulder is like crack!
Go-to date spot?
For date night it’s always Ralph’s (760 S. Ninth St.). The servers are fun, the vibe is relaxed yet energetic and they treat us like family every time we talk through the door. But mostly because my wife goes crazy for the mussels in red.
Best place to catch up with friends?
Well I’d have to say that would be at my house in Jersey. For dinner, I’m thinking cutlets, spaghetti and clams, broccoli rabe, long hots, square pizza, sharp provolone and Breyers mint chocolate chip ice cream. Because what is better than providing a home-cooked meal for good friends?
Most Instagrammable restaurant
Vernick (2031 Walnut St.) has a very similar cooking style to me, however somehow [Chef Vernick] makes it look so much more “Instagrammable” than I ever could — still not sure how he does that.
You can keep up with Brad Spence’s latest adventures on Twitter @chefbradspence.
For more on Vetri Family Restaurants, visit: vetrifamily.com.