The luxe Sofitel Philadelphia, positioned in the heart of Rittenhouse, recently welcomed an esteemed executive chef to the ranks of its Liberté Lounge. Justin Perdue, most recently of Sofitel Chicago, arrives in the city of Brotherly Love with impressive culinary stints under his belt. He’s refined his French cuisine-influenced craft aside a laundry list of nationally acclaimed chefs, such as with Bobby Flay at NYC’s Bar Americain and Frank Brunacci at the Michelin-starred Sixteen.
Just a few weeks into his new Philadelphia gig, we asked the artistic chef to flex his kitchen chops, to reveal what his inspires his sustainability-focused dishes, how he interjects his refined French techniques with modern-day whimsy, and even, what he growing on the hotel’s rooftop garden. Meet the city’s newest chef below.
Main Course: What excites you about joining Philadelphia’s up-and-coming food scene? What are you on a mission to do with the culinary program at Sofitel Philadelphia?
Justin Perdue: Working in Chicago, I got to see the food scene grow and define itself as one of the top food cities in America. In the short time I have been in Philadelphia, I can see the same progression in the quality of restaurants and chefs that are popping up every day. There’s big restaurant news happening in every corner of this city, and that’s really exciting.
I’m on a mission to show that Sofitel Philadelphia is a place to see and try new things; our culinary program has new life and exciting options. Hopefully I can change the perception of hotel dining a bit, because I think it is often overlooked.
You arrive in the city of Brotherly Love with an incredible resume under your belt, including impactful kitchen stints with Bobby Flay in NYC and Rick Bayless in Chicago. How do you define your culinary style? How have you evolved over the years?
I would define my style as classic French technique with a modern approach to flavor and presentation. Throughout my career, the way I look at a complete dish has evolved the most, making sure dishes make sense while also creating a distinct flavor and presentation.
Your new menu at Sofitel Philadelphia is sustainability-driven, with the hotel & restaurant going the extra mile in hosting its own rooftop garden and bee hives. Why is it important to you and Sofitel to have your own on-site garden? What herbs and/or produce did you have to have growing on site?
We are producing a lot of herbs including lavender, basil, cilantro, etc. Also, we are growing different varieties of tomatoes and peppers. As a hotel, we are trying to be as eco-friendly as possible, this is just another way to decrease our footprint on this planet, plus we know that the herbs we use are extremely fresh and free of pesticides and fertilizers.
Considering your new spring menu, what dish do you hold on a pedestal?
The new scallop dish stands out to me. Diver scallops with Parmesan sable, tomato jam, corn puree, pearl onion and white asparagus. I cook with the idea that all dishes must contain certain elements—crunch, salt, sour, sweet. This dish has all those components and all of these elements come together really nicely.
Wild card: You’re hitting the Philadelphia food scene after-hours for a drink and/or bite. What restaurant are you loving the most right now?