Saturday, March 24, 2012

Food for Thought Interview with Peter Woolsey

Philly is incredibly lucky to attract chefs who are not only talented, but also socially conscious. ACHIEVEability was able to bring many of these chefs together, in support of its cause of breaking the poverty cycle with the help of education, and gaining self-sufficiency. Peter Woolsey is one of these chefs – he is always making sure to stay active in the Philadelphia community, but never to sacrifice his craft.

After working at the Waldorf-Astoria in NYC, Woolsey went to study pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where he ended up mastering not only pastry, but also the art of French cooking. With these skills under his belt, Woolsey moved back to the U.S. and then to Philadelphia with his French wife and created Bistrot La Minette, an authentic bistro serving classic French cuisine.

Read Penn Appétit’s exclusive interview with Peter Woolsey below!

How did you get involved in Food for Thought? For how long have you been involved? Why is the Food for Thought fundraiser important to you? Why do you think people should attend?

The woman who put together the gala last year was my next-door neighbor and good friend. She’s a real foodie, but she was shy about asking the first time because we’re friends and neighbors, and did not want to cross any lines. But when she told me about it, I did my research, and ACHIEVEability is very easy to get behind. When dealing with poverty, so many people just throw money at the problem, without thinking of ideas that are out of the box. ACHIEVEability’s goal is to break the poverty cycle, and it has thought of creative ways to fix the problem. I’m from West Philadelphia, and lived very close to it. It’s amazing how different the city can be a couple of blocks away.

Can you give us any hints as to what you'll be cooking for the event?

I can actually tell you what we’ll be making! Our beouf bourguinon and a millefeuille.

Are there any other exciting upcoming events that you or Bistrot La Minette is involved in?

This month we’re doing Dinner in Périgord, which will feature the typical food of this region of France. It will include, foie gras, duck, walnuts, and black truffles. It’s a lot of rich, delicious, awesome food, all because of the ingredients. It’s a prix fix that is four courses for $35. Also I’m working on planning another collaborative chef dinner for the end of March. I’ve just started planning it so I can’t give you any clues as to who will be there. There’s always something going on at Bistrot.

What do you like about the Philadelphia food scene? Why do you think Philly is a good place to start a French restaurant?

Well I was living in France, I ran out of money and my visa ran out. I knew I had to move somewhere, so I moved back home. I opened a French restaurant because that’s my training. When I opened Bistrot, there weren’t many other French restaurants in Philly. Since I opened it, a few others have come along but none of them are along the lines of what I wanted to do. My goal was to make the most authentic French bistro possible.

Where do you draw inspiration for your restaurant and menus?

The easiest places to find inspiration are people’s homes. I like going to restaurants and seeing other people’s work, but it’s rarely inspiring. My wife is French, and the food that she cooks at home is very inspiring. Simple home cooked meals, eating with my in-laws, and with friends. The only restaurants that I find really inspiring are off the beaten path, mom and pop restaurants that specialize in one or two things. These are the only places to find treasures of great, great food.

Want to know more about Peter Woolsey? Check out the Spring 2012 Issue of Penn Appétit on racks all over Penn soon!

Craving a late night snack? So was Jonathan Adams! Learn all about Adams and his restaurant Pub and Kitchen (open until 2 AM) tomorrow!

Find ACHIEVEability on the web:

Tickets to the Gala can be found via this link:

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