Central's Trip To Philly

Central's Trip To Philly
June 1st, 2014

This trip was years in the making, plans and ideas began formulating as far back as 2011. Since then, new ventures were started, new friendships were made, events, blessings, accolades.... seems like it has been a lifetime in the planning.

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I had the pleasure of meeting Chef Kevin Sbraga at a Tornado Benefit we hosted in 2011. Kevin is the season 7 winner of Top Chef and he came down to help out. In short, fast friendship ensued, we decided we would work together again, and we had had too much fun not too. Fast forward couple of years and Kevin opened his namesake restaurant in Philly, Sbraga. To raves reviews, he followed that by opening The Fat Ham, his southern inspired joint, to rave reviews as well. Finally, the time to travel to Philly and showcase Alabama had come.

Chef Rob McDaniel, is the Executive Chef and GM at Springhouse in Lake Martin, he is a twice nominated James Beard Award Chef, an amazing talent, disarmingly quiet, and a friend. Rob has been reaping the rewards of his hard work and has been on a rocket ship to the stars these past couple of years. Don't call it luck, call it hard work, trust me I know. I have been fortunate to participate in many events alongside Rob and they are always first class. Kevin reached out to Rob and myself and asked if we were ready to get this dinner down on paper and make it happen! How could we say no?!

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Rob and myself each brought along a Sous Chef, I brought my Sous Scotty (to the left of me) and Rob brought his FOH manager Sam (in front of Scotty) along. We had a blast, we cooked, laughed, had drinks, experienced Philly and left many customers raving about Alabama food and the event. SUCCESS!

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I had a chance to meet a professional hero of mine, Chef George Perrier is a legend! He was the owner and Executive Chef of Le Bec-Fin, one of the top restaurants in the country. He popped in at the dinner and was just such a wonderful person to meet. We had a chance to speak and I was able to ask chef many questions about his insights and thoughts on food, drink and his awe inspiring career. Meeting Chef was a highlight of the trip for me. It is not often one gets to meet a legend and share a drink with him!

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Philly was amazing, cooking with friends both old and new was a humbling experience. There is sooo much more I can write about this amazing trip and the great fun we had, alas I do have a kitchen to run, food to prepare and a staff to lead. I will close by saying, Chef Rob and myself did Alabama proud, we received many compliments and congratulations.

I'll leave you with words from Chef Perrier, a statement I will never forget and will always be so proud of.

"My Chef, thank you for your hospitality, what a fantastic meal, everything was delicious, well seasoned and full of interesting flavor, a great meal" ........it just doesn't get any better than that!

Chef Leo