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Northeastern Group Tour Summer 2014 : Page 86

Mid-aTl anTiC Italian Market, South Philadelphia Pack an appetite when visiting Philadelphia By Courtney Rivette Food in Philly Old City neighborhood, Amada is per-fect for groups and specializes in Span-ish and New World-infl uenced tapas in an elegant, yet comfortable setting. Famous restaurateur Stephen Starr, has more than 20 restaurants in Philly, including Morimoto in Center City. The restaurant is named after its head chef, Masaharu Morimoto, best known as an Iron Chef on the Japanese TV cooking show, Iron Chef and its spinoff Iron Chef America. Kevin Sbraga, winner of Bravo’s Top Chef Washington, D.C., also calls Philly home. His restaurant Sbraga features seasonal fare focusing on local and sus-tainable ingredients. “When we (the CVB) bring visi-tors to the city, the overall response is that they want more,” Said commented. “They want to try more of our cuisine, they want to stay longer and they want to experience more of what Philadel-phia has to offer.” Photo: R. Kennedy/ Visit Philadelphia 86 The city made famous by gooey cheesesteak, cannoli, water ice (local version of Italian ice) and soft pretzels is now a culinary destination. Philadel-phia is home to celebrity chefs, gourmet restaurants, farm-to-table fare and in-ternational cuisine. The emergence of Philadelphia as a culinary hot spot can be traced to its neighborhoods, all of which attract visi-tors with unique culinary offerings. Many restaurants are Bring Your Own Bottle (BYOB) establishments and allow visitors to sip their favorite spirits and save money. “Our BYOB scene is booming with 200-plus restaurants, and more are popping up often,” said Brian Said, ex-ecutive director of tourism for the Phil-adelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau. Celebrity chefs also host groups in some of their Philadelphia restaurants. Iron Chef Jose Garces has seven res-taurants in the city including his fi rst Philly restaurant, Amada. Located in the Foodies fl ock to Philly According to a group travel study conducted by Mandala Research, 30 percent of travelers deliberately choose destinations based on the availability of activities related to local food and drink. Said agrees with the numbers and believes groups come to Philadel-phia to experience its culinary offerings. “In addition to our well-known lo-cal cuisine, our food tours are grow-ing in popularity as visitors want to get a local’s taste for the City of Brotherly Love,” Said noted. “The Reading Termi-nal market and Italian Market are huge draws for us.” Chef Jacquie Peccina-Kelly, a Philadel-phia native and owner of Taste 4 Travel, a culinary tour company in Philadelphia, also sees the city as a culinary hot spot. “The city is world-class gourmet,” she said. “We’re on fi re — especially with four James Beard Award nominees [located] just on East Passyunk Avenue.” Summer 2014 • GroupTour.com

Food in Philly

Courtney Rivette


Pack an appetite when visiting Philadelphia

The city made famous by gooey cheesesteak, cannoli, water ice (local version of Italian ice) and soft pretzels is now a culinary destination. Philadelphia is home to celebrity chefs, gourmet restaurants, farm-to-table fare and international cuisine.

The emergence of Philadelphia as a culinary hot spot can be traced to its neighborhoods, all of which attract visitors with unique culinary offerings. Many restaurants are Bring Your Own Bottle (BYOB) establishments and allow visitors to sip their favorite spirits and save money.

“Our BYOB scene is booming with 200-plus restaurants, and more are popping up often,” said Brian Said, executive director of tourism for the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Celebrity chefs also host groups in some of their Philadelphia restaurants.

Iron Chef Jose Garces has seven restaurants in the city including his first Philly restaurant, Amada. Located in the Old City neighborhood, Amada is perfect for groups and specializes in Spanish and New World-influenced tapas in an elegant, yet comfortable setting.

Famous restaurateur Stephen Starr, has more than 20 restaurants in Philly, including Morimoto in Center City. The restaurant is named after its head chef, Masaharu Morimoto, best known as an Iron Chef on the Japanese TV cooking show, Iron Chef and its spinoff Iron Chef America.

Kevin Sbraga, winner of Bravo’s Top Chef Washington, D.C., also calls Philly home. His restaurant Sbraga features seasonal fare focusing on local and sustainable ingredients.

“When we (the CVB) bring visitors to the city, the overall response is that they want more,” Said commented. “They want to try more of our cuisine, they want to stay longer and they want to experience more of what Philadelphia has to offer.”

Foodies flock to Philly According to a group travel study conducted by Mandala Research, 30 percent of travelers deliberately choose destinations based on the availability of activities related to local food and drink. Said agrees with the numbers and believes groups come to Philadelphia to experience its culinary offerings.

“In addition to our well-known local cuisine, our food tours are growing in popularity as visitors want to get a local’s taste for the City of Brotherly Love,” Said noted. “The Reading Terminal market and Italian Market are huge draws for us.”

Chef Jacquie Peccina-Kelly, a Philadelphia native and owner of Taste 4 Travel, a culinary tour company in Philadelphia, also sees the city as a culinary hot spot.

“The city is world-class gourmet,” she said. “We’re on fire — especially with four James Beard Award nominees [located] just on East Passyunk Avenue.”

Fresh flavors
Philadelphia’s popular nickname, the City of Brotherly Love, isn’t just a name on paper. The sense of community among locals resonates to visitors throughout its culinary destinations. Two historic and popular markets — the Reading Terminal Market and the Italian Market — bring visitors and Philadelphians together over fresh, local cuisine.

Reading Terminal Market in Center City is home to 70+ merchants offering authentic cuisine including international and local fare. The market is the nation’s oldest and continuously operating farmer’s market.

To enhance the market experience, groups can take a 75-minute, The Taste of Philly Food Tour to learn the story behind cheesesteaks, hoagies, pretzels and other Philly food favorites.

In South Philadelphia, the Italian Market spans 10 city blocks and is one of the oldest and largest open-air markets in America. Dozens of vendors line the streets, selling fresh vegetables, fish, meats, spices and produce. Between the stalls, gourmet shops and restaurants entice visitors inside their storefronts.

Chef Jacquie is a familiar face at the market, as she leads groups on Taste of the Italian Market Tours.

Even though the market reflects a strong Italian heritage, the last decade has introduced international flavors like Mexican, Vietnamese and Korean.

“I want visitors to feel like extended family,” she said. “When we start the tour, guests consider me as ‘Chef Jacquie,’ but by the end they think of me as ‘cousin Jacquie.’”

Taste 4 Travel offers custom tours for groups to 100-plus. In addition to the Italian Market Tour and tours to Italy, Chef Jacquie leads Taste of the Avenue Tours along South Philadelphia’s own Restaurant Row, fabled East Passyunk Avenue.

Unique eats and Philly favorites
Another finding in the Mandala Research study is that 50 percent of all respondents said they travel to learn about or enjoy unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences — something that Philadelphia does well. A local restaurant favorite, City Tavern, pairs historic authenticity with a unique culinary experience. The tavern’s seven dining rooms, three wine cellars and spacious gardens are just part of the appeal. Staff, dressed in 18th-century clothing, serves Colonial-American inspired food and uses customs of the time period. Groups can order a flight of Colonial beers, based on historical recipes of the Founding Fathers.

In the Northern Liberties neighborhood, groups can dine at PYT, located in the Plazza at Schmidt’s. PYT is home to some of America’s craziest burgers and claims to be the only burger place in the world to offer a carb-free bacon bun as a substitute for a regular bun.

Some of the crazy burger concepts include the “deep-fried Twinkie burger,” the “PB&J bun burger” and the “Doh! Nut burger,” which includes chocolate-covered bacon, a beef patty and American cheese on a glazed donut bun.

“Our culinary scene is fun, affordable and eclectic,” Said noted. “We want groups to take away the authenticity of the City of Brotherly Love that can be found mixed in our culinary scene.”

Read the full article at http://bt.e-ditionsbyfry.com/article/Food+in+Philly/1687483/205413/article.html.

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