It’s culinary musical chairs in Philly. Eli Collins is taking over as executive chef at A.Kitchen and A.Bar in Rittenhouse Square. Over in Old City, Jon Nodler will be filling the executive chef role at High Street on Market. All three are run by High Street Hospitality Group, owned by Ellen Yin and Eli Kulp. Steven Eckerd is moving into the executive chef spot Eli Collins is leaving at Pub & Kitchen, just south of Rittenhouse in the Grad Hospital neighborhood.
Eckerd, who’s originally from Etters, Pennsylvania, in York County but made his name in New York kitchens, will step into the Pub & Kitchen role on March 31. He studied at the Culinary Institute of America and went on to train under Jean-Francois Bruel and Eddy Leroux at Daniel Boulud’s Daniel. In Philly, Eckerd has worked at the Vetri Family’s Vetri and Osteria, along with Le Bec Fin and Lacroix.
At Pub & Kitchen, Eckerd plans to focus on simple, rustic dishes made with seasonal ingredients, which sounds more gastropub-like than the restaurant has been in recent years under Collins, who was only the second executive chef at Pub & Kitchen since it opened nine years ago.
Collins will likely lean even more into the refined style he’s been offering at P&K in his new gig at A.Kitchen, which is more intense in its approach. Like Eckerd, Collins also spent time in the kitchen at Daniel, as well as DBGB Kitchen and Bar (from Boulud, too), where he was executive chef.
If he needs pointers at his new job, maybe Nodler could help out. Nodler, who was a semi-finalist in the James Beard Awards’ Rising Star category in 2015, has been with High Street Hospitality Group in various roles since 2012, including as chef de cuisine at A.Kitchen and A.Bar. He’s coming into High Street on Market, which was an early example of the all-day, breakfast café-into-restaurant concept, with a head start, having helped created the menu.