Meet Chef Andrew Hufnagel of De La Terre in Downingtown

Featured photo by Ed Williams

Andrew Hufnagel, Main Line Today’s Best Chef for 2023, serves up French-inspired dishes at De La Terre in Downingtown.

As innovative restaurants continue to proliferate in our western suburbs, Downingtown has become a nexus of sorts, nurturing fresh ideas that have been enthusiastically embraced by a growing flock of foodies. Our critics’ pick for Best Chef, Andrew Hufnagel is leading the charge with De La Terre, an elevated, French-inspired BYOB experience that rivals anything you’ll find in Philadelphia.

MLT: De La Terre debuted less than a year ago, and the response has been amazing. Are you surprised?

AH: We weren’t so much surprised as we were grateful for all of the positive feedback everyone has given us so far. We think Downingtown’s food scene is only getting better, and we’re thrilled to be another neighborhood favorite.

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MLT: Who inspired you to head in this culinary direction with your life?

AH: My father has been my biggest inspiration and my greatest supporter. He’s always been a foodie, exposing me to great restaurants and chefs at a very early age. That sparked my interest and enthusiasm in the culinary world. Experiencing new restaurants was, and still is, one of my favorite things to share with him, because we both have an extreme passion for food and dining.

Andrew Hufnagel
Photo by Ed Williams

MLT: Explain a bit of your professional history as a chef.

AH: I’m an Art Institute of Philadelphia alum and have been in the industry for 20-plus years. I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to work for some of the biggest names in Philadelphia, including Stephen Starr, Jose Garces and Jean Georges. I also had an award-winning restaurant in State College (Zola Kitchen & Wine Bar).

MLT: Why Downingtown?

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AH: We wanted to be closer to our family and friends—and to bring a new style of cuisine to a growing community.

MLT: Name three things every kitchen should have.

AH: A Vitamix, an Instant Pot and a well-seasoned cast iron pan.

MLT: How important are sauces?

AH: The goal for any of our sauces is to be three times as flavorful as the item it’s going to accompany. That way, the sauce is able to stand on its own and will elevate and tie together any dish.

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MLT: Why is plating so crucial?

AH: I want my guests to experience my food and appreciate it for more than how it tastes. Great food isn’t just about taste—it should be artistic and inviting to look at. Everything has its place on a plate, and enjoying the beauty of a dish before you taste it elevates the dining experience.


Related: De La Terre BYOB Does French Fare Fabulously in Downingtown

Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!