Philadelphia chefs form a tight-knit community, so when they throw their collective weight behind something, you can bet it’s gonna be good. Case in point, last month’s Audi Feastival, which combined clever chef collaborations with burlesque and musical performances and more.
The annual event counted Michael Solomonov, Stephen Starr, Audrey Claire Taichman and Nicholas Elmi as co-hosts this year, and the chefs and restaurateurs invited every major player in the city’s culinary scene to come out and cook and make drinks to benefit FringeArts, the 22-year-old performing arts organization headquartered at the food of the Ben Franklin Bridge.
“This town has two great things we are lucky to have: this unbelievable scene of culinary artists and a renowned performing arts community,” says Nick Stuccio, President and Producing Director of FringeArts.
Food Republic attended the September 27 event, escorted down to Philly from New York on a media bus by Solomonov himself, along with boxes full of his Federal Donuts. During the two-hour drive, the witty Solomonov explained how he and Elmi combined chefs from different culinary backgrounds to cook together at Feastival. The result was unexpected takes on pierogies, banh mi, sandwiches and pasta dishes borrowing from the chefs’ individual backgrounds—with nary a cheesesteak to be found.
“This concept that we dreamt up really worked out much better than we could have anticipated, Elmi writes in post-event. “All of the chefs were thrilled to partner with another chef that perhaps they never got the chance to work alongside. Watching new bonds form and old bonds strengthen was pretty incredible.”
The chefs weren’t the only attraction: Performers from FringeArts activated throughout the indoor/outdoor venue, hanging from the ceiling and staging burlesque performances as guests queued up for the inventive dishes.
“My job at FringeArts is to help artists bring their ideas to life,” says Stuccio. “We talk about source material—literature, the environment, politics. Chefs create using much the same process— drawing inspiration walking through a local market, from their travels—the smells, people, customs. I’m enamored with their process and the immense passion and enthusiasm both culinary and performing artists share.”
See photos from the 2018 Audi Feastival in Philadelphia below: