Burke is Back – at Morgan’s Pier! Jim Burke, formerly of JAMES, Takes the Reigns as the Restaurant’s 2016 Chef-in-Residence
Philadelphia foodies have been chomping at the bit for their next chance to taste Jim Burke’s cooking, ever since word broke that the beloved chef and his wife, Kristina, have returned from New York. That opportunity is coming soon, exclusively at Morgan’s Pier when it opens on April 21. The restaurant is proud to announce that Burke, former owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer three-bell rated restaurant JAMES, past winner of Food & Wine’s Best New Chef, nominee for James Beard Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic award, Bocuse d’Or USA finalist and most recently the executive chef of DB Bistro Moderne in Manhattan, will be the 2016 Chef-in-Residence.
In a stroke of great timing, Burke is bringing his prestigious accolades to the Pier for the season while the couple continues to develop their next project. Drawing upon his experiences in Italy, as well as his collaboration with famed Chef Daniel Boulud, Burke has crafted a menu that reflects the European sensibility of the shared table as a place to connect with other people.
“My family and I are so happy to be back home. It made an immediate impact on all of us to have that connection with our community again. A lot has happened in the Philadelphia dining scene during the short time we were gone, it's very exciting to jump back into the mix,” Burke said. “Running the kitchen at Morgan’s Pier is a wonderful opportunity to work with great people and to connect with a broader range of customers – it has very quickly become a Philly institution in the summer.”
Each season, Morgan’s Pier, Philadelphia’s seasonal backyard beer garden along the Delaware River Waterfront, invites a different acclaimed chef to take over the kitchen with their own version of a chef-hosted backyard barbecue, combining casual eats with celebrated expertise. Going in a slightly new direction this year, the menu now has two main offerings: a roundup of creative, shareable American classics plus the revival of favorites from previous seasons; and a featured section with more eclectic dishes from the Chef-in-Residence.
A few items making their triumphant return to the main menu are the Snack Bacon, Elote Corn Salad, and Lobster Roll. Highlights from Burke’s signature section include Gnocchi Gratinata with summer truffles, Fisherman’s Stew with saffron-tomato broth and garlic bread; and Country Ham & Grilled Melon. The dishes embrace the custom of aperitivi - seasonal antipasti to be shared with friends and family in a spectacular setting, bringing a little bit of the Italian lifestyle to the waterfront.
Celebrating its fifth anniversary this season, Morgan’s Pier will continue with its tradition of chef-driven cuisine for al fresco dining, extensive cocktail and craft beer lists and entertainment almost every night, but new programs are rolling out for 2016 as well.
Last year’s popular chef’s table – a 20-person, intimate dinner on the second level crow’s nest will be available for booking all season. Diners can enjoy the same breathtaking views but with new offerings for their family-style meal such as the Seafood Jubilee – a hand selected variety of seafood with seasonal sides, A Celebration of Poultry – a medley of chicken, duck and quail, and Slow Roasted Pig – a local suckling pig slow roasted to perfection. Another new option for larger private events is the upgraded Lounge area, now with its own bar, for up to 50 people.
New weekly events to get excited about include: industry nights on Tuesdays, rotating special events on Wednesdays – such as craft beer tastings, live bands every Thursday, and a more extensive brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Of course DJs will be spinning all weekend as well.
As the fifth chef-in-residence, Burke joins an exclusive club of decorated chefs who have personalized the backyard summer cookout theme. Last year, Top Chef Nicholas Elmi, owner of Laurel, the two-time #1 rated restaurant by Philadelphia Magazine, took his turn at the Pier. Elmi drew from his New England roots to create casual seafood dishes with French and Japanese accents. Below are some of the more memorable plates from all five years’ alumni:
(2016) Jim Burke | Gnocchi Gratinata, Fisherman’s Stew
(2015) Nicholas Elmi | Grilled Kombu Cured Rib Eye, Lobster Roll
(2014) David Gilberg | Piri Piri Chicken, Elote Corn
(2013) George Sabatino | Hamburger in Liquid Nitrogen, Cheesy Kale Croquettes
(2012) David Katz | Watermelon Feta Salad, Snack Bacon