1911 E. Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia, PA •(215) 271-7683
“When you acknowledge, as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food, only the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving toward perfection becomes clear: TO MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY, that is what cooking is all about.” – Thomas Keller
You could say I’m feeling happy, Christopher Kearse. Or as I now like to think of you: the unbridled talent who whips up French-inspired, culinary masterpieces at 1911 E Passyunk Ave. in Philadelphia. But happy would be an understatement.
Surrounded by cookbooks and copper tins, the simplicity of the 28-seat dining room allows guests to focus on each pièce de résistance. Lucky for us there’s more than one. Every dish is hand-crafted with delicate precision, as Chris uses tweezers to arrange an assemblage of ingredients. My Early Spring menu options included: Hudson Valley Foie Gras and Rabbit Terrine (pictured), Chilled Spanish Octopus accompanied by piquillo pepper marmalade, and Barnegat Light Scallops served in a red-pepper chorizo broth.
I ate it all.
And finished it off with the decadent Valrhona Chocolate Bouchon topped with amaretto cherry, coffee ice cream, and garnished with toasted meringue kisses.
Just when I think I can’t be any more impressed with my night, I am introduced to the creator himself.
“I can’t smell, can’t really taste too much. I can taste salt, sour, bitter,” Kearse confesses.
The reason lies in an accident that happened when a drunk driver smashed into the car Chris was riding in and changed his life forever. It forced doctors to perform over 20 surgeries including a jaw reconstruction, which left him unable to smell, and affected his ability to taste. The surgeries also left Chris unable to eat solid food for close to two years.
With a new appreciation for his love of food, Chris fought his way to work under renowned chefs like Thomas Keller and Charlie Trotter, which eventually prepared him for the opening of his own restaurant. Comparing his technique to an athlete’s practice routine (“I just know how much to add because I do it all day every day,”) Chris now focuses his unique culinary style into the dishes you can expect to encounter at Will BYOB—happiness guaranteed!