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At long last, Speck is near completion in the Piazza

For months you couldn't miss it. With its 40-foot mahogany fašade stretching across two former retail spaces in Northern Liberties' Piazza at Schmidts, Chef Shola Olunloyo's forthcoming Speck Food and Wine has had the foodie blogs buzzing since January. Once rumored to be opening in Washington Square, Olunloyo announced in August that the Piazza would be the place. Now, with construction near completion, only the health inspection remains for this "new American" modernist palace. Management anticipates a mid-December opening.

"The art of Speck is the food and the people so it is very elegant and understated," says Speck's Chef de Cuisine Akiko Moorman. "There is a lot of woodwork. We have been working with these local carpenters, Papajohn Woodworking. They are incredibly talented. It is absolutely stunning."

Philly food aficionados may know Olunloyo for his oft-referenced StudioKitchen blog and his members-only StudioKitchen program where the chef cooks a prix fixe menu for a select group in a studio--Moorman calls it his laboratory--down the hall from his home. StudioKitchen became a safe environment to try out new dishes on friends. It was here that many Speck dishes were born. This tradition continues at Speck with the Chef's tasting table, an eight-person, reservation-only elevated table allowing guests to watch their food being prepared. The tasting table builds on StudioKitchen's concept of the kitchen staff "cooking for you" as opposed to you choosing something from a menu. This nine-course experience is already taking reservations. With construction complete, reservations for the rest of the restaurant will begin as soon as final inspection is completed. The staff is as anxious as Philadelphia's foodie community to bring this long-awaited establishment to the Piazza.

"If I could personally check the floors myself, I would," says Moorman. "Shola has completely taken over this project. He is in there now with a diamond bit drilling holes in the ceramic tile to put up the shelves in the kitchen. Everything we can do ourselves, we have been to move this project forward."

Source: Akiko Moorman, Speck Food and Wine
Writer: John Steele

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