When Chef Nick Farina moved his Union Taco from Seventh and Girard in Northern Liberties to Manayunk last year, he was left with an empty 25-seat restaurant — a perfect space to host what he calls “homeless chefs.” EAT, a space for chef pop-ups, is now open.
Professional chefs are using EAT to test menus, generate buzz and impress potential restaurant investors; home cooks are booking the space to practice their skills.
“I see EAT as a stage we make available to chefs to showcase their talents,” says Farina. “Anyone who works in any kitchen has different menus in their heads, but until now, couldn’t see those ideas in practice unless they were lucky enough to have that large space to call their own.”
Visiting chefs are responsible for advertising their events, with reservations made through EAT’s website (www.eatrestaur
antphilly.com). They keep half the profits from an event and EAT gets the other half.
How it works
“Chefs bring their cooking supplies, while the restaurant provides space and the majority of the pots, pans and utensils,” explains Noelle DeHarpporte of NoelleEve, a new organic catering and private chef service”she owns with Greg Stein.
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NoelleEve was one of EAT’s first users. Chef Stephen Latona of Smoke Kitchen also hosted a dinner there this month, as did Trevor Ford, sous chef at Verdad in Bryn Mawr, who roasted a 100-pound pig for his guests. (Farina is chef at Verdad.)
“The experience was great,” says DeHarpporte of NoelleEve’s meal, which included Brussels sprouts with shaved fennel and apple, seared scallops, and citrus-braised pork shank. “The open kitchen was a sensational surprise.”
An intimate space
EAT opens its doors six times a month to guest chefs. Farina says he’ll use the space regularly as a test kitchen and for his own experimental dinners. “I like cooking there because its intimacy enables me to touch every plate and get immediate feedback from guests,” he says.