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The French-born, well-traveled, master of restaurant openings Marc Plessis says that all his career moves were intended to finally bring him to Philadelphia. He’s been doing alright in Philly, too. The former chef de cuisine at XIX just helped open the kitchen at the new Pennsylvania 6 in Midtown Village. We chatted with him about his past, his latest project, and that fascinating Pennsylvania 6 marrow bone-turned-whiskey luge that everyone is buzzing about.
You were born in France. How did you eventually end up in Philly?
We moved to Kentucky when I was 11 because my dad was working for Laughing Cow cheese and they have a factory there. Getting to Philly was a long process of culinary travels, it was not by accident. I was working with Hyatt and I had my eye on the one in Philadelphia.
So that’s how you ended up opening XIX. You’ve been a part of other restaurant openings, too, right?
Yes, I’ve done quite a few. I’ve opened in Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami. The one in Miami — Hotel Victor — was the most challenging one because we were opening an entire hotel from scratch.
Do you consider yourself a Philadelphian?
That’s interesting. Atlanta was kind of my first home, and I’ve bounced around a lot since then, spending two or three years in one place. It eats you up. Philly was planned from the get-go. After I left XIX I was trying to open my own place and things didn’t happen. I was concerned because I put so much energy into being here. I stuck it out and luckily for me it worked out. The long term goal is to be in Philly and be a Philadelphian.
Everyone is talking about this bone marrow and whiskey luge. Can you explain that?
It’s a split femur bone. It’s called a canoe cut because they cut it in half lengthwise. It exposes the bone marrow, which we season and roast and top with a crust. It’s rich on rich and it’s got a lot of textures. You scrape out the marrow with a little spoon and once you’re done you have the option of doing a shot of Woodford Reserve down the center of the bone. It’s like Jager shots down an ice sculpture, only it’s the food version.