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Eat Like an Insider: Camille Cogswell of Zahav

The James Beard finalist has quite the eclectic palate.
Camille Cogswell of Zahav
Camille Cogswell of Zahav

Camille Cogswell got her start in the food industry as a high school student, when she worked at Bruegger’s Bagels in Asheville, NC. She went on to study at the Culinary Institute of America and spent time working in New York City’s food scene before becoming the pastry chef at renowned Philadelphia restaurant, Zahav. This year, she was even named a Rising Star Chef finalist for the James Beard Awards. When Cogswell is not whipping up tasty treats in the kitchen (like her signature Turkish coffee custard), she admits she loves dining out, enjoying everything from chicken liver toast to pho to British pie and mash.

Best late night meal?
Tai Lake (134 N. 10th St.). It’s one of my favorite restaurants in Chinatown and an industry late-night favorite. Chinese food is so craveable after a long night of service. Be sure to include the stuffed hot pepper with minced shrimp in your order.

Best meal under $10?
South Philly Barbacoa (1703 S. 11th St.). The owners Christina and Ben are passionate and talented people. They only serve tacos (lamb or pork) and lamb consommé (a rich and delicious broth with rice and chickpeas), so both are absolute must-haves. You can get one taco and one bowl of consommé for $8, although it’s so delicious you’ll probably want more than that.

Best hidden foodie gem?
Aldine (1901 Chestnut St.). George Sabatino makes delicious, composed food and doesn’t get nearly as much press as he should. The restaurant is also easy to miss because it’s on the second floor of a building downtown in center city. Most of his menu changes every single day, but one of my favorites is his chicken liver toast. It’s one of the best I’ve ever had.

Best place to dine alone?
Pho 75 (1122 Washington Ave.). Philly has great pho and this might be the most-loved spot. It is soul-satisfying and an easy and quick stop-in meal on your way to or home from work. I get the #11 (slices of eye-round steak and well-done flank with your noodles and broth) and a Vietnamese iced coffee.

Place you always take or recommend for out-of-towners?
Stargazy (1838 E. Passyunk Ave.). British pie and mash shops are rare in the U.S. and this one is not only insanely delicious, but also run by the most lovable, quirky chef, Sam Jacobson. He has a few different types of meat pies every day, but I really love the sausage roll — a tasty meat tube of housemade pork and fennel sausage wrapped in the flakiest crust.

Go-to date spot, hands down?
Amis (412 S. 13th St.). It’s my favorite Italian restaurant in town and perfect for all kinds of dates. It’s lively, with a boisterous open kitchen and a large menu including the best pastas in Philly, in my opinion. Don’t miss their signature bucatini with almond pesto and jalapeños.

Best place to catch up with friends?
Rooster Soup Co (1526 Sansom St.). One of the new openings from our company, it’s the type of diner that I’ve always craved since I moved to Philly. Retro vibes with a modern look and simple, delicious food. It’s comfortable and casual, and 100% of the restaurant’s profits go towards helping vulnerable Philadelphians in need through their collaboration with Broad Street Ministries. Order a combo, with smoked matzo ball soup and a bacon, latke, and tomato sandwich.

Most Instagrammable restaurant?
Royal Sushi & Izakaya (780 S. 2nd St.). Jesse Ito, the chef there, is creating some super cool food here that I haven’t seen anything like anywhere else in Philly. They have a superb, extensive beverage menu and amazing bar food in the form of Japanese small plates. He also recently opened a sushi counter in the back room. It’s hard to play favorites here but you must try the nasu dengaku — Japanese eggplant glazed with sweet miso.