Jersey-born chef Jeff Froehler has been back in the Barclay Prime kitchen since the spring of 2012, working at returning the Rittenhouse Square steakhouse to where it was when it first opened. Sometime after the restaurant’s exciting beginning and before Froehler’s return last year, it hit a few snags and garnered several unsavory reviews from critics. But Froehler is just the chef to turn Barclay Prime around, since he was there when the restaurant opened its doors and surprised everyone by being a steakhouse that went against the grain. Of course, some things never change — like that $100 cheesesteak on the menu.
You’ve been at Barclay Prime just over a year now, but you were the original sous chef when it opened in 2004. How does it feel to be back at an old stomping ground?
I love this restaurant, it’s where I cut my teeth as a chef. I’ve always had a spot in my heart for Barclay Prime, even when it wasn’t at the forefront. We’re bringing it back to where it was four or five years ago.
How do you do that?
You need to get back the trust from the customer. You’re not going to find a better piece of meat in Philadelphia and we want to prove that. It’s always a constant challenge.
Can we talk about the $100 cheesesteak?
A lot of groups of six share it as an appetizer and we cut it in pieces for everyone. Or a couple might split it for dinner. I would recommend one of our steaks over that, but it makes a great appetizer.
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When you’re running out for an $8 cheesesteak, where are you going?
Jim’s, personally. I’ve tried them all and I prefer that one.
A steakhouse is a pretty manly thing. Do you have any manly hobbies outside of work?
My hobbies tend to evolve. I like golf mostly. I’m getting old here, going out and running a marathon isn’t my thing. I guess taking out the garbage — does that count as a manly hobby?
You just participated in the 9th annual Chefs’ Dinner for PAWS. How was it?
It was great. We were super excited to participate and it was a lot of fun. It seemed like the guests had a great time, too.
Do you have any pets of your own?
I have a cat named Calloway who is pretty awesome.