Philadelphia sauces up Food Network

Food Network stars serve up some Philly food favorites. If you’re hungry in Philadelphia, what is the No. 1 thing any local would suggest? A cheesesteak. But there’s more to Philly’s cuisine than just cheesesteaks

Food Network stars serve up some Philly food favorites.

COLIN KERRIGAN TTN In April, the Food Network and the Cooking Channel will highlight seven Philadelphia food spots to show that Philly food is more than just cheesesteaks.

If you’re hungry in Philadelphia, what is the No. 1 thing any local would suggest? A cheesesteak. But there’s more to Philly’s cuisine than just cheesesteaks and Tastykakes.

Food Network stars Tom Pizzica, the host of “Outrageous Food,” Rahm Fama, the host of “Meat & Potatoes,” and others have taken interest in the cuisine Philly has to offer.

These chefs are touring Philly to show that the city is more to offer than what’s for dinner at Pat’s and Gino’s.

“Forget about cheesesteaks. The sliced beef sandwich – that I will never forget,” Fama said. “I remember it like it was yesterday – a simple all-American classic done right.”

Fama, who was raised on a cattle ranch in Santa Fe, N.M., said his interest in cooking began at the age of 15 and has since acquired experience working within restaurants and as a private cook.

“I have not been to Philly before, and I was very excited to check it out,” Fama said. “I know Philly has a lot of great food. With Philly being surrounded by other great food cities, it gets a lot of inspirations for many different cuisines, which make it unique.”

Fama was able to experience a cheesesteak, as well as something new at the eateries he visited: Nicks Old Original Roast Beef, located at 2149 S. 20th St., Han Dynasty, located at 108 Chestnut St., and Village Whiskey, located at 118 S. 20th St.

“I wasn’t expecting to have such great Chinese food in Philly but, wow – completely blew me away,” Fama said. “At Hans Dynasty, everything I had was a 10, not only in heat, but quality and attention to detail.”

Pizzica is originally from West Chester, Pa., and is a fierce Phillies fan. He has been exploring what the food in Philly has to offer.

“In August 2010, Tom Pizzica finished among the final three contestants on season six of ‘The Next Food Network Star,’” according to the Food Network’s press release. “His ‘Big Chef’ personality and culinary curiosity make him the ideal host of Food Network’s primetime series, ‘Outrageous Food.’”

Pizzica has experienced almost every sector there is in working with food. His 15 years of experience has allowed him to work in various kitchens and in different positions, including line cook and server. Currently, he is the executive chef at the Front Room within his family-owned Imperial Hotel in Chestertown, Md.

His pit stop in Philadelphia has led him to Smokin’ Bettys, located at 116 S. 11th St., and Jake’s Sandwich Board, located 122 S. 22nd St., to experience some outrageous Philly favorites. Although he hasn’t visited these restaurants prior, he’s a big fan of Amada, a restaurant in Old City.

“I love the way Chef Jose Garces cooks, and anywhere I can get big red wines with huge plates of cured meats and great cheeses is OK in my book,” Pizzica said.

Pizzica said he finds that the restaurant scene in Philadelphia is full of great finds and new trends.

“It’s fairly new, so there is a lot of fun experimentation in Philly,” Pizzica said. “It’s kind of like throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks, and a lot has stuck.”

“So many great chefs and new restaurants have popped up within the last several years, and it’s been fun to watch,” he added.

Philadelphia is a place where new ideas have a place to be concocted and experimented. Like any idea, it can be hit or miss, but Philadelphia is inviting for new ideas to flourish.

Keep an eye out during the upcoming months on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel for more episodes, one starring Philadelphia’s own restaurant, the Sugar Philly Truck.

Alexandra Olivier can be reached at

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