Peter Serpico—Philly's latest New York acquisition and the brilliant Beard Award-winning chef behind Starr-funded restaurant Serpico—is known for his amazing kitchen talents and no bullshit demeanor. He'll also be the first to tell you that he's not a big food media guy and doesn't relish the attention that comes along with interviews, awards, and news articles. To him, the restaurant itself and happy diners are the rewards for his work, and nothing else.
Serpico was the subject of a recent KYW Newsradio 1060 What's Cooking segment (scroll to the last audio post), where host Hadas Kuznits talks to local restaurateurs and chefs. While the interview started off normally—Kuznits and Serpico talked about his reason for leaving NYC, his partnership with Starr, Serpico's dining room and kitchen design—it took an odd turn once the host asked Serpico what dish guests "had to order."
Serpico repsonded that guests should order what they love, and that was followed by a question about what his favorite dish at the restaurant was. Serpico intimated that he didn't eat the food on his own menu—which is normal for most chefs, as they spend all day cooking it every day—and Kuznits then followed with asking what his signature dish was, to which he said he didn't have one. Since Serpico wasn't "playing by the rules," the host then wrapped those two thoughts into one standoffish statement: "So you don't have a signature dish, and you don't like the food here."
While it was pretty obvious what Serpico meant, he rightfully got frustrated by the host's comment, and took control of the situation with the following: "I didn't mean that. What I'm trying to say is that we have a base right now, and we're going to continue to grow. And we're not going to stop working here because we're not content with where (the menu) is. We worked very hard to get here, but we're going to work harder to get better. And that's it."
Kuznits retreated a bit after Serpico's forthright statement, but he wasn't having it. She asked him to talk about the menu and if he wanted to describe the dishes on the menu, and he simply refused, saying, "I don't want to tell people what to eat, I want them to come in and eat what makes them happy. I want them to eat a little or eat a lot. To come in for a special occasion or once a week." And, it gets better. So, give it a listen (scroll down to the last audio post on the page). We love you Peter Serpico, even more than before. You're going to fit in here just fine.