| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

Food : Innovation + Job News

116 Food Articles | Page: | Show All

Bartram's Garden hosts first annual 'orchard to table' dinner

By now, we've all had a taste of farm to table, but how about orchard to table?

The Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP) -- with help from hosting Bartram’s Garden (near our summer On the Ground home in Kingsessing) -- is launching its first annual Orchard to Table Dinner for 50 lucky guests.

"This is the first year we’ve planned something like this and we’re really excited," says POP second-year intern Alyssa Schimmel, who specializes in promoting POP fundraising collaborations with businesses and other organizations.

The dinner will take place at Bartram's Garden in Southwest Philadelphia, 5 - 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 13; the cost is $60 per person. The evening will kick off with a tour of the orchard at Bartram’s led by POP Executive Director Phil Forsyth, followed by a happy hour featuring beverage Yards Brewing Co., Crime & Punishment Brewing Co., and Kuran Cider.

Main courses will be provided by local farm-to-table caterer Seedling and Sage, with dishes including pecan chicken with wilted arugula salad, or a vegetable creation made with produce from Philly Foodworks. Mycopolitan Mushrooms will serve up specially foraged hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, Brine Street Pickelry is bringing the pickles, Metropolitan Bakery has the bread covered, and the coffee is courtesy of ReAnimator Coffee. The meal will be served family-style from platters at joint tables. Artisans, local food and horticulture vendors, and live music will also be on hand throughout the night.

"We’re really focusing on our native fruiting trees," explains Shimmel. "What plants do we use in orchard spaces? And how can we familiarize them to a larger audience?"

That means local apples, pears and figs.

It’s all about "bringing people together for food that’s grown in local farms, and using that to highlight the power food has in our community," she adds.

Proceeds from the dinner will support more community orchards. Each year, POP works on five to 10 newly planted groves across the city with help from volunteers. Dollars from the new fundraiser will help pay for the plants and planting, enable education with the help of on-site POP liaisons, and go towards upkeep.

POP currently manages 54 community orchards comprised of 1028 fruit trees and those numbers are growing every year. After the September 13 dinner, supporters can check out the group’s sixth annual Philadelphia Orchard Week (October 8-16) featuring harvest festivals and other events across the city. Volunteers are also needed for fall planting season, running late September through mid-November.

"This dinner is going to be a great showcase of a lot of wonderful work being done in the community, both by the Orchard Project and all of our partners," says Schimmel. "We feel very fortunate to be in partnership with all those who are working on making local food more accessible."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Alyssa Schimmel, the Philadelphia Orchard Project

Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

'Animal Farm to Table' lets Fringe Fest goers get their hands dirty

Philadelphia Fringe Festival goers who want an unusual, interactive experience should head to The Renegade Company’s Animal Farm to Table, hosted by North Philly's Urban Creators. The show will involve discussion, walking around the farm harvesting vegetables, a communal meal and a roving performance inspired by the George Orwell novel Animal Farm. In other words, it’s not your typical theater experience.

"This is a piece that’s very active for an audience member," explains Renegade Artistic Director Mike Durkin. "You’re going to get your hands dirty and you’re going have bugs fly across your face."

Durkin says his interest in topics like access to healthy food started with his work at the Nicetown branch of the Free Library. Students who came for after-school programs didn’t have many food options besides the snacks for sale at corner stores.

"I began to get more and more interested in access," he recalls. "How we can obtain food? What impacts our food sources?" This year, it seemed like a good idea to integrate those themes of "seeking a food utopia, creating a food revolution" into another long-term goal: adapting Animal Farm into a Renegade show.

In recent years, Durkin’s Fringe work has included Damned Dirty Apes!, performed at FDR Park, and Bathtub Moby-Dick, performed in a South Philly rowhome.

Durkin approached Urban Creators about a Renegade partnership at the start of 2016. The theater company had looked at several area farms as possible collaborators, but ended up choosing the grassroots nonprofit at 2315 N. 11th Street. The organization has a strong relationship with local youngsters and a community-driven mission of economic development, support for social entrepreneurship, and transforming neglected spaces.

The experience will last about 70 minutes, not including an optional "open sharing" discussion circle for all ticket-holders happening an hour before the show. It’s a "ground to the plate" experience, beginning with showgoers finding and harvesting veggies on the farm; Chef Brion Scheffler (the man behind the Philly blog Food Junkets) will prepare a simple meal incorporating the audience members' finds.

The Renegade Company’s Animal Farm to Table, presented as part of the 2016 Philly Fringe Festival (check out our Flying Kite round-up of the fest here), is coming to Urban Creators for nine performances from September 8-18. All shows begin at 6:30 p.m.; come for an hour-long onsite pre-show discussion. Tickets are $20; discounts available for theater industry folks, teachers, students and seniors; pay-what-you-can admission is open to residents of the North Philly community.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Mike Durkin

EXTRA: Community dollars support big transitions at Bartram's Garden

This summer, Flying Kite's On the Ground program took an in-depth look at Bartram’s Garden, a historic horticultural gem on the banks of the Schuylkill River. Now there’s a chance for all Philadelphians to make a big difference for the site.

Gearing up to be more accessible than ever to city-dwellers with the completion of the Bartram’s Mile trail, the 45-acre national historic landmark recently reopened the renovated original Bartram House for public tours, as well as the Ann Bartram Carr Garden. Another burgeoning program is the four-acre Community Farm and Food Resource Center, a formerly a disused baseball field and tennis court. (Here’s an in-depth look at the amazing work blooming at the farm.)

This summer, the nonprofit launched a crowdfunding campaign aimed at raising $30,000 for the farm.

"What we’re doing is raising funds for stipends for the students, the farm co-directors' salaries, and all of the supplies that are needed," explains Bartram’s Assistant Director Stephanie Phillips.

Currently, the campaign has raised almost $7,000. If they can hit $10,000 by September 30, a large donor will match those funds with another $10,000.

"It means a lot to us," says Phillips of donors who give even a few dollars (the campaign currently has attracted supporters donating as little as $5 or up to $200). "The support goes a long way, because this is a very lean program that has a pretty huge impact."

The accumulation of those small donations signals the huge community investment in programs at Bartram’s and locals’ desire to keeping them running.

"We see this Go Fund Me campaign as a way to get our feet under us while we do more longterm strategic fundraising," adds Phillips. That can take the form of government grants, but those dollars move slowly and Bartram’s is already "looking to get outside of our borders."

For example, giving garden boxes to residents of nearby Wheeler Street, and helping them learn how to garden for themselves at home outside of Bartram’s fields and greenhouses.

Anyone who wants to pitch in to support Bartram’s workers, programming and supplies can donate to the historic site’s campaign through September 30, 2016.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Stephanie Phillips, Bartram’s Garden

Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

River Wards Cafe finds success in Port Richmond

When River Wards Café founder Joe Livewell gets on the phone with Flying Kite, his need to pause the conversation is a pretty good indicator of where the business is now, and where it’s headed.

Livewell works seven days a week at the café, which opened in March. There are two other staffers on the team so far, but he was behind the counter himself during our interview and had to put down the phone for a rush of customers.

"I think I just sold everything on the menu," he says of the variety of things his customers just bought.

Livewell grew up in Fishtown. The La Salle University alum started his career in finance, working as a high-yield bond trader, and then transitioned to a job consulting for a software company in San Francisco.

But owning his own business has always been at the back of his mind.

"I didn’t know how to transition from career to business owner," he recalls, "It is a pretty intimidating jump when I didn’t know which levers to pull to make it happen financially...I got this really strong feeling one Monday morning that I didn’t want to do [the software job] anymore."

He first branched out into working for himself with a kids’ clothing line that didn’t prove profitable, but it was the bridge he needed to think seriously about a more independent career.

"It got me living differently," he says. "I was flexible; I didn’t have a nine-to-five to go to…Basically, I started making connections and relationships that would allow me to [have my own business]."

Back in Philly, he began working for ReAnimator Coffee as a wholesale bagger in their roasting facility; he also worked a stint at Fishtown vintage retailer Jinxed.

ReAnimator was "a big influence on my coffee practice," he says of adding a passion for the brew to his existing expertise in finance and customer service. His first real look at opening a café of his own came when he bumped into real estate developer and future business partner Laurence McKnight (a family friend) about two years ago.

McKnight was developing a property on Richmond Street in Port Richmond, and there was a vacancy at 3118. They talked about doing a coffee shop. Work on the 800-square-foot space, which seats about 25, really ramped up in winter 2016 with woodwork from Fishtown’s Philadelphia Woodcraft Company.

Now River Wards Café serves ReAnimator’s Keystone Blend, pastries from Au Fournil and soft pretzels from Center City Pretzel Co.

Livewell says his customers enjoy the personalized experience they get at the café.

"We’re very open talking about what we’re serving and engaging the neighborhood," he says. He attributes much of his success so far to the active support of the community. "We’re doing well. Every day new customers come in, and a lot of times they’re so excited." Five months after opening, people are still saying "thank you for coming to Port Richmond. And I think that’s going to continue as businesses come to the street."

River Wards Café opens at 7 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. It closes at 3 p.m.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Joe Livewell, River Wards Café 

The 9th annual ACANA Festival will draw thousands to Penn's Landing

The ACANA Festival started small, but after eight years, it’s exploded into an event that draws thousands to Penn's Landing. Attendees come to explore the modern and traditional music, foods, crafts, and cultures of the African diaspora.

The African Cultural Alliance of North America (ACANA) is our current On the Ground home in Southwest Philadelphia (check out this recent profile of the broad-based African and Afro-Caribbean social services organization). August 7 will mark the ninth year that ACANA has hosted the event as part of the PECO Multicultural Festival Series, which brings eight free festivals to the waterfront between June and September.

ACANA originally made the series roster nine years ago with the help of a recommendation from the Kimmel Center. The nonprofit's founder and executive director Voffee Jabateh served on the community advisory board.

In 2015, the ACANA Festival drew an estimated 10 to 12 thousand people to the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing in a single day. This year, with headlining singer Pape Diouf -- a Senegalese star -- those numbers will only grow. Other performers at this year’s festival include Sharon Katz and the Peace Train South Africa, Chilton James Reggae Band, Deng, and the Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble.

Jabateh says the festival is gaining international traction and becoming a destination for African artists who want to connect with the vibrant African diaspora in the United States.

"[Diouf] is top of the charts in Africa," says Jabateh, but "many in the [American] community cannot afford the cost" of traveling to see him. So the ACANA Festival is bringing him here, free of charge to fans.

"Most of the artists in the ACANA Festival for the last five years have come from outside the United States," he adds. They’re "doing very well in their career back in Africa, and the diaspora group wants to see those artists here in America."

ACANA makes it happen.

The fest will also feature a huge range of African food, arts and crafts, and activities for kids.

The ninth annual ACANA Festival is coming to Penn’s Landing on Sunday, August 7 from 2 - 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Voffee Jabateh, ACANA

Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

MilkCrate for Communities helps companies and institutions reward sustainable living

About a year and a half ago, local startup MilkCrate began an incubator residency through Project Liberty. This came after a potent mix of bartering, bootstrapping and crowdfunding helped to launch the sustainable-living app. Now the company is ready to add a major new level to their platform that goes beyond individual users.
The free MilkCrate app officially launched in early 2015 as a resource for people who want an easy way to connect to socially and environmentally conscious businesses and services. It has since expanded beyond Philly to Denver, Boston and Asheville. Co-founder and CEO Morgan Berman, who earned a master’s degree in sustainable design from Philadelphia University, was pleased to see traction from the original concept, but the team quickly realized that more was on the table.
"We actually took a pretty radical approach to both our business model and our product," she says of the revamp, launching this month.
MilkCrate for Communities isn’t replacing the original free app -- it’s an add-on service that companies, universities and other enterprises will be able to purchase and extend as a perk to their employees, students or residents. It will also let buyers quantify and collect data on real-life social- and eco-conscious practices within their organizations, which can be harnessed both for external branding and marketing as well as internal messaging, all while encouraging sustainable living.
The company realizes that app platforms aimed at boosting sustainable practices at large institutions or companies already exist, but MilkCrate has a major edge because they already have a comprehensive localized directory and calendar within their existing product.  
Berman says MilkCrate for Communities is a premium, private "game-ified" social experience that clients can tailor for their users. Members of participating groups can download the free app and, unlike in the public version, log in and begin earning points for things like checking into a farm-to-table restaurant or fair-trade coffee shop, signing up for a composting service or CSA, or volunteering.
Participating companies and schools can use MilkCrate to tabulate the eco-friendly and socially conscious steps users make, and incentivize them with quarterly or semester-based rewards.
The first official buyer of the MilkCrate for Communities platform is Berman’s own alma mater, Philadelphia University, which will launch the experience for students and faculty this summer. Other clients are already in the pipeline, including the co-working provider Benjamin’s Desk, home to MilkCrate’s offices. Berman says a customized pilot product for Comcast is also in the works.
"We are looking for more corporate and academic clients that want to be part of the big launch this summer,"she adds. Anyone who wants to bring a demo of MilkCrate for Communities to their campus or office can get in touch.
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Morgan Berman, MilkCrate 

Primal Supply Meats brings sustainably-raised, nose-to-tail products to the masses

Even for farm-to-table chefs who are invested in serving humanely and sustainably sourced meat, connecting to the right supplier is difficult.
"It’s just a really broken chain," explains former Kensington Quarters (KQ) head butcher Heather Marold Thomason. Many chefs and home cooks want to minimize waste and know exactly where their meat comes from, "but it’s not easy for anybody to use whole animals."
Enter Thomason's new company Primal Supply Meats.
Over the last year, the idea for the startup evolved as she got to know her customers at KQ’s retail meat counter. Word was spreading around the city about the quality of the locally sourced meat for sale at this Frankford Avenue retail/restaurant hybrid.
"More and more people were approaching us," she recalls. "We had a really awesome relationship with people in the Fishtown area who were our everyday customers." She also began to notice shoppers coming from other parts of town -- from South Philly to Mt. Airy -- saying they wished KQ delivered or had other locations. "I also had a lot of chefs approaching me, saying, 'How are you getting this meat? Can you help me?'"
She realized there were farm-to-table chefs all over the city who aren’t able to take a whole animal into their kitchen, but didn't want pre-cut frozen meat either.
Primal Supply Meats, while not a retail counter like KQ’s, bridges that gap, acting as a liaison between farmers and chefs. The entire butchered animal is used, but shared among as many as three or four different clients asking for different cuts.
"I think that our customers have actually been receptive to what we’re doing and their responsibility as customers," says Thomason. With a fresh, whole-animal model at the KQ counter, part of her job was guiding customers to what was available that would also suit their tastes and needs. "Our customers were super-receptive to that."
That’s part of why she has high hopes for the CSA-like subscription model Primal will launch in a few weeks (those interested can visit the website). Individuals or families will be able to purchase meat packages on a rolling month-to-month basis, and have confidence in knowing where their meat is coming from.
While she hopes Primal will eventually gain its own space, it’s currently operating in West Philly via a partnership with the new FDA-certified facility 1732 Meats. For trucking and cold storage, Primal is partnering with North Philly’s Common Market.
This summer, things are still getting off the ground -- Thomason is visiting farmers one-on-one, learning both sides of the business.

"We’re working on getting all the infrastructure in place, making sure our supply chain works and our production processes are solid," she says. "[That way] we can make sure we’re ready to meet demand as it comes."
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Heather Marold Thomason, Primal Supply Meats

Empowered CDC expands community-driven change in Southwest Philly

Regina Young never set out to found a community development corporation. A New Haven, Conn., native who now lives and works in Southwest Philadelphia, she had a career in teaching and social work before going back to school for her masters in community development.

She says her inspiration for the CDC simply came from living in the neighborhood and interacting with friends and family there. In 2014, she launched Empowered Community Development Corporation out of Meyers Recreation Center at 58th Street and Kingsessing Avenue, not far from Flying Kite’s new On the Ground digs.  

Southwest CDC has been operating in the neighborhood for decades, but Young still saw a need for her group.

"The geographic area of Southwest is so large," she says. "It’s just pretty evident that one organization cannot possibly effectively handle all of the community in this particular area."

Young sees Empowered CDC as part of a local matrix that will see success in cooperation.

"This has to be a collaborative approach," she explains. "There’s not anything that can be done that’s sustainable if we’re an island. We have to deal with other organizations; we have to really get the community reinvested in beautifying and building and transforming the Southwest area."

Currently, Empowered holds some programs out of Myers, but because of needed building repairs there, the organization has moved its offices temporarily to nearby Tilden Middle School.

Their health and wellness program is the one Young is most excited about: A recent community garden initiative in a former vacant lot has spurred beautification, education, healthy food access, safe space for seniors and youth, and community cohesion. Empowered obtained a lease for three lots on the 2000 block of Cecil Street, and in the course of a year, formed a community garden club and installed benches and garden beds for flowers, fruits and veggies. This summer, the CDC is launching new educational programs around the garden for youth, seniors and everyone in between.  

"I charged the community with really leading the design of what this parcel of land looks like," says Young.

And the transformation there is spreading.

"It started with the garden," she explains, but now locals are saying, "if we can do this with a parcel of land, what can we do with our own block?" It’s lead to new painting, more street cleaning, a movement to get planters installed, and "really being a more cohesive block. That’s what Empowered is all about."

The organization is still new, but Young has high hopes for building and utilizing the skills of community members.

"Our biggest asset as an organization, being very new, is simply human capital: understanding how relationships matter, how communities have a voice," she says. "That’s what really propels us as an organization."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Regina Young, Empowered CDC

Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

What's on tap at The Oval for summer 2016?

For the fourth straight year, Eakins Oval will become The Oval, bringing a little summer fun to the Parkway. Running July 15 through August 21, this year's installation will also feature special events related to the Democratic National Convention.

"It’s a wonderful time in Philly," says Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. "We’re having this renaissance of things to do outside in the summer. It’s really becoming something [Philly is] known for."

The eight acres of the Oval feature lots of lawn, shady trees and a new 25,000-square-foot ground mural from the Mural Arts Program (Ott Lovell says the artist will be announced soon). The beer garden is also returning, and will have Sunday hours for the first time. A rotating food truck line-up will be on hand offering plenty of dining options. Last year’s popular themed days are returning, too, with Wellness Wednesdays, Arts & Culture Thursdays, Food & Flicks Fridays, Game Day on Saturdays, and Family Fun Sundays. (Click here for the full line-up.)

The annual pop-up park is a partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philly Parks & Rec, with support from PNC Bank, Warby Parker and Park Towne Place.

The site will host a wide range of summer programming, including games, live music, movie nights, workshops, performances and Saturday Quizzo. Offerings in honor of the DNC (July 24-29) will include special beer garden hours -- Sunday, July 24 from noon to 5 p.m. and July 25 - 29 from 5 p.m. - 10 p.m. (featuring Ales of the Revolution from Yards Brewing) -- and an "All-Presidents" Political Quizzo night, 7 p.m. July 25 with Johnny Goodtimes.

Ott Lovell says the park attracts a diverse mix of people from across the city, as well as plenty of travelers.

"I was stunned at how many tourists came through," she recalls. "They’re not from here, so they don’t know the Oval as anything but this beautiful park. They don’t realize that in December it’s actually a giant parking lot."

Over the last few years, Oval participants have pushed for expanding the park’s dates of operation, but it stays the same year to year due to the Welcome America and Made in America festivals.

That doesn’t mean Parks & Rec doesn’t have its eye on how to utilize the space year-round.

"I think longterm we need to start thinking about the future of the Oval," adds Ott Lovell. "Do we continue to pop it up every year [or] do we continue to think about longer-term investment? What’s a more permanent way that we can activate the Oval year-round?"

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Kathryn Ott Lovell, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

Meet Broad Street Ministry's new executive director

Last summer, we featured Broad Street Ministry (BSM), a powerful local organization offering an ever-expanding range of services and resources for thousands of Philadelphians experiencing homelessness, poverty, housing or food insecurity. This month, BSM is installing a dynamic and dedicated new leader: Michael J. Dahl.

"I had a desire to start working with the most vulnerable in our community at the grassroots level," says Dahl of what prompted him to make this career shift (he’s former senior vice president of Pew Charitable Trusts, overseeing the Philadelphia program). "It became a personal matter -- where do I think I could have the most impact at this point in my life, in my career? I was looking around for what the next chapter could be."

He was impressed by BSM’s model and services. He went and volunteered, and participating himself is what confirmed his desire to get involved.

A Stanford alum, Dahl is taking over for BSM founder Rev. Bill Golderer, who left the organization last November to seek a seat in U.S. Congress (Golderer will remain on the BSM Board of Directors through the transition).

Before his 15 years with Pew -- which encompassed planning, public policy, fundraising, evaluation, research, finance and legal affairs -- Dahl had a hand in two successful business startups spanning strategic advisory, and insurance and financial services software. He was also an economic, tax and policy advisor to Senator Bill Bradley.

Dahl argues that it’s become far too easy for us as a society to "dehumanize" entire populations. He appreciates BSM’s rigorous approach not only to programming (including offerings as diverse as art classes and mail service for people without homes), but to evaluating and strengthening its approach.

"I come from the model that if ain’t broke, fix it," he says of applying ongoing, measurement-based improvements. "How can we do a better job of helping these people, people who are facing hunger or housing insecurity? Can we help them find their way to reclaim their lives and become more productive citizens?"

Dahl especially appreciates the existing Broad Street Hospitality Collaborative, "but I think the real upside is once you gain the trust, what are the fleet of services and supports that can be provided that truly let these people move back into society?" He’s also a fan of BSM's inclusivity as a faith-based organization that’s "open to all faiths, and people of no faith."

Dahl will officially start as BSM’s new executive director on June 13.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Michael J. Dahl, Broad Street Ministry 

Weckerly's Ice Cream to open its first retail location in Fishtown

Philly ice cream connoisseurs have something to look forward to. Currently, if you want some top-rated Weckerly’s Ice Cream, you have to buy it by the pint (or sandwich) at a local cafe, food retailer or farmers' market, but now the company is gearing up to open its very own brick-and-mortar location on a bustling stretch of Girard Avenue in Fishtown.

Fronted by husband-and-wife team Jen and Andy Satinsky, Weckerly’s launched in late 2012 in West Philly’s Spruce Hill neighborhood. In 2014, the micro-creamery moved to Port Richmond’s Globe Dye Works.

"At that time, we really did want to open a retail shop eventually in West Philadelphia," says Andy. But the search proved difficult, so they broadened the hunt. With some help from New Kensington Community Development Corporation, they discovered a 350-square-foot shop at 9 West Girard Avenue, and knew it was the perfect place (they’ll still make their ice cream at Globe Dye Works).

"We definitely wanted a neighborhood," says Andy. "We wanted to be amongst families and homeowners, and people who engage in activities in their neighborhood."

Jen is an experienced pastry chef (her maiden name, Weckerle, inspired the company's moniker). A former bicycle mechanic, Andy eventually left his job to focus on the business full-time.

"[Jen] is the reason we make ice cream and have an ice cream company," he insists. "She’s the heartbeat of everything."

The company is known for unusual flavors such as buckwheat sour cherry and lemon verbena black raspberry, but "we do embrace the classics," he adds. "There’s a place for a vanilla ice cream made with grass-fed milk and cream and good-quality vanilla bean…that tastes like ice cream would have tasted 50 years ago."

Weckerly’s more adventurous combinations are inspired by the company’s mission to source seasonal ingredients from local farms. This is partly why the Satinskys need to grow their business with a retail location, rather than increasing wholesale production. With their own shop, they can stick with their model and showcase small batches of exclusive flavors -- perhaps only five gallons at a time.  

"There are aspects to the way we operate that don’t lend themselves well to a rapidly growing wholesale business," explains Andy, noting the difficulty of scaling up while still working exclusively with local farms.

The new Girard Avenue shop will be open year-round seven days a week, offering a selection of signature ice cream sandwiches and hand-dipped cups and cones, with six rotating ice cream flavors and two sorbets.

They couple isn't sure of an opening date yet, but hope to launch by late summer or early fall. Fans can follow along for the latest @Weckerlys on Twitter and Instagram, and on Facebook.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Andy Satinsky, Weckerly’s 

Philadelphia makes another prime showing in latest Knight Cities Challenge

After nabbing more project grants than any other U.S. city in the Knight Foundation's inaugural 2015 Knight Cities Challenge, Philly has more reasons to be proud. As announced at an April 12 celebration at Reading Terminal Market (RTM), local winners received the largest share of the national grant program’s $5 million pool for 2016: over $873,000 for four local initiatives.
This year’s contest, which invites individuals and organizations nationwide to submit their ideas for improving city life, drew over 4,500 applicants. That was narrowed down to 138 finalists and 37 grantees. Philadelphia's winners include the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA) for its 20 Book Clubs, 20 Cooperative Businesses; Reading Terminal Market Corp. for its Breaking Bread, Breaking Barriers; Little Giant Creative for its Institute of Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship, and Benjamin Bryant for his Little Music Studio.
Caitlin Quigley of PACA spoke at the celebration. Her organization will use its $146,000 grant to launch 20 book clubs in 20 Philly neighborhoods. Attendees will focus on studying cooperative business models, and then use what they’ve learned to launch a co-op business serving a need in their community.
Quigley hopes the initiative will "activate Philadelphia residents to be lifelong agents of change in their neighborhoods."
RTM General Manager Anuj Gupta spoke on behalf of Breaking Bread, Breaking Barriers, recipient of $84,674. According to Knight, the project will build "cultural bridges to Philadelphia’s immigrant communities with cooking classes celebrating ethnic food," led by RTM chefs.
RTM is one of the city’s most diverse public spaces, explained Gupta, and it’s known "as a place where one can expect civility," no matter where you come from, over the common enjoyment of food.
Tayyib Smith's Little Giant Creative is receiving $308,640 for its project that boosts "economic opportunity by using hip-hop to provide hands-on business training to members of low-income groups." As Smith noted, one third of our city’s population lives in poverty. With a GED and two semesters of college, he’s now the founder of four businesses, and he wants to see Philadelphia's entrepreneurial community talk as much as they can about local poverty.
Bryan's The Little Music Studio, which netted $334,050, will be a "traveling playground for musicians," making musical instruments accessible in public places to anyone who wants to sit together and play. The "project is not about performance," says Bryan, but about diverse people connecting through spontaneous jam sessions. (He’s leading the project through his role as director of planning and design at Group Melvin Design.)
As Knight Foundation Philadelphia Program Director Patrick Morgan put it, "Each of these ideas represents the best of Philadelphia."
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Patrick Morgan, Knight Foundation Philadelphia, and Knight grant recipients 


Temple Blackstone Launchpad student wins pitch contest with campus food delivery app

Recent Temple graduate Andrew Nakkache and his business partner, fellow grad Mike Paszkiewicz, got the idea for their winning 2016 College Pitch Philly concept Habitat when they grew frustrated with the student meal plans. The resulting startup is a food-delivery app linking local food trucks and restaurants with campus-dwellers.

The duo -- who both graduated about a month ago -- met on their very first day on campus and soon identified a couple things about student life that weren’t ideal, including the fact that they (or their parents) were wasting money on meal plans with meals that expired weekly.

"Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was an off-campus meal plan?" Nakkache remembers wondering. It was just a concept at that point, but a year-and-a-half later, he and Paszkiewicz launched the initial version of Habitat, a general "student-to-student marketplace."

"It failed big-time," recalls Nakkache. It was "buggy" and they released it in April, shortly before the summer exodus. People were downloading the app, but in one month, they didn’t book a single transaction. There was work to be done.

The partners headed to San Francisco for some mentorship -- one successful entrepreneur assured them that they had a great market, but needed to zero in on a much more targeted service. They realized that there was a huge opportunity in food alone.

Nakkache points to existing meal delivery apps and websites like GrubHub; they realized none of them were focused on the college market. The revamped version of Habitat, launched September 1, 2015, operates with "runners" (exclusively Temple students) delivering food to campus sites within a half-mile or less of participating restaurants and food trucks for a $2.50 in-app delivery fee.

Since launch, Habitat has clocked about 1200 orders, with over 400 in the last month. Nakkache touts a 75 percent success rate with vendors: out of 28 food trucks and restaurants approached by Habitat, 21 came on board.

At the February 24 College Pitch Philly competition, Habitat took top honors, nabbing $7,500 out of a total $15,000 prize pool. (The contest is sponsored by the Philadelphia Regional Entrepreneurship Education Consortium and partners StartUp PHL, Blackstone Foundation, and Quorum at the University City Science Center.) Wins like this -- including a $21,000 boost from the Fox School’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl -- have helped propel the young company, which now has six full-time employees.

Habitat’s latest update speaks to the founders’ original inspiration: a stored-value feature that allows app users (or their parents) to buy tiered plans that include a certain number of pre-paid meals (at $8 each) and some free deliveries.

Next up? Burnish the metrics at Temple and expand to University City. The founders hope the prize money from College Pitch Philly will help bring Habitat to Penn and Drexel by fall 2016.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Andrew Nakkache, Habitat

Food News: Eclectic Double Knot brings coffee, pastries, banh mi, sushi and more to Midtown Village

Coffee. Pastries. Banh mi and lunch bowls. Sushi. Japanese-style small plates. Robatayaki. You can get them all at Double KnotSampan's exciting new neighbor on 13th Street. For Michael Schulson and his MJS Restaurants (of Atlantic City's Izakaya, Sampan and the Independence Beer Garden) the new spot came after a quick turnaround -- it took less than a year from lease to launch. The dynamic space is an intriguing addition to Midtown Village's exploding restaurant scene.

There’s so much happening at Double Knot (120 S. 13th Street) that it's good to have a tour guide. The space has two levels: about 1100 square feet upstairs and a larger downstairs space offering about 3000 square feet including dining rooms, a bar (under beverage manager Zachary Davis), and a twelve-seat sushi and robatayaki bar.

The Double Knot day starts at 7 a.m. in its street-level coffee bar where they serve a buzzy proprietary blend through a partnership with Elixr; the menu also includes coffee cocktails and pastries (from pastry chef Roxxanne Delle Site). From there, it's on to lunch: Schulson says his mid-day patrons have been especially enthusiastic about the midday offerings: create-your-own lunch bowls or banh mi for just $7.

At 4 p.m., the cocktail lounge opens, serving a daily punch, wine and beer on draft, desserts, and selections from the downstairs sushi and robatayaki menus. Dinner starts at 5 p.m. with 35 seats upstairs -- along with a full bar serving sake by the glass and bottle -- and 80 seats downstairs, plus the sushi bar.

"We wanted to do something that made the downstairs feel a little bit more exclusive, more hidden," says Shulson of building a space that patrons will discover "tucked away" down a hallway and back stairwell.

And dinner?

Executive Chef Kevin Yanaga supervises a menu featuring sushi, Japanese small plates (Schulson recommends ordering about eight for a table of two) and 38 robatayaki options. Robatayaki is a Japanese-style skewer slow-grilled over open charcoal; Double Knot’s offerings include duck hearts, lobster, shrimp, venison, chicken breast and asparagus.

As for the small plates, take your pick. The menu has nine sections including meat, fish, sushi, sashimi, hot, cold and crispy. Schulson's favorites include the hearts of palm salad; the tuna tartare with chili oil, avocado and rice pearls; and the rib-eye for two served with sushi rice and lettuce for wrapping.

Kate Rohrer of Rohe Creative designed the space. Upstairs patrons will find a light, earthy palette including exposed brick, reclaimed wood, tile, antiqued mirrors and industrial-style lighting. Downstairs, there's "dark and moody" velvet booths, industrial fixtures and two hand-painted murals.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Michael Schulson, MJS Restaurants


Historic Fair Hill Burial Ground works to get its due

Historic Fair Hill (HFH), a landmark burial ground on Germantown Avenue, houses the remains of some of America’s most prominent abolitionists and women’s rights advocates. After decades of neglect, the rejuvenated site is planning another year of programming growth under new executive director Jean Warrington.

A Philly native and current Chestnut Hill resident, Warrington got involved with the project over a decade ago. In 2004, the HFH board hired her as its part-time program director and as of January 1, 2016, she took on the role of the organization’s executive director.

The HFH site dates all the way back to the early 18th century. It was started by George Fox himself, founder of the Religious Society of Friends and the land’s original owner. According to HFH, his will asked that the space be used "for a meeting house, a burying ground, and a garden and grounds" for kids to play and learn.

The site’s adjoining Quaker meeting house at Germantown Avenue and Cambria Street was sporadically active from 1703 all the way until 1967, when shrinking attendance led the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting to sell the property. Maintenance of the grounds -- the site of the graves of American luminaries such as Lucretia Mott and Robert Purvis -- deteriorated.

In the late 1980s, "it was the biggest open-air crack cocaine market in the city," says Warrington of the five-acre site. In the 1990s, a dedicated cross-cultural neighborhood coalition slowly reclaimed the site as a safe green space. Outreach to local Quaker leader Margaret Hope Bacon (a Mott biographer) resulted in renewed attention and eventually a nonprofit that raised funds to buy back the grounds in 1993.

"What we’re doing is using a historic site…to carry forward the values of the people buried there. We’re using the past to serve the present," explains Warrington of HFH’s current work, which hearkens back to Fox’s will by focusing on urban gardening -- both on and off-site -- and a reading program at the neighboring Julia de Burgos School.

There are currently 20 HFH "reading buddies" who volunteer in the classroom there and work to restore the school library that was closed down (along with many others across the city) in 2010. A large local Hispanic immigrant community means this kind of support is crucial: Many local kids have parents who don’t speak English, so bridging the English-speaking literary gap is important.

"The kids are so lovely," says Warrington. "They are respectful, eager, curious, bright. They’ve got to have a library. They’ve got to have books. They’ve got to have people who can read with them."

In her new role as executive director, she wants to increase the number of reading buddies to 50 and expand the site’s existing gardening programs. Working outside "increases the peace," she argues. It correlates with better performance at school and is "just a good thing in this society that is so wired and pushy and loud and unjust."

Also on the horizon is increasing the site’s visibility with an improved website, better social media presence and monthly events. That includes an upcoming Women’s History Month tour on March 12 honoring the graves of leaders of the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s right’s convention.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Jean Warrington, Historic Fair Hill

116 Food Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts