Every birthday deserves some kind of a celebration, but big birthdays are occasions to pull out all the stops and invite a crowd to celebrate with you. Next year, on September 22, 2018, Vetri will celebrate 20 years on Spruce Street: two decades as one of Philadelphia’s defining restaurants. To observe the milestone, chef Marc Vetri has invited guest chefs from near and far to host a series of dinners at Vetri in the year to come.
“They’re my heroes…chefs I have the utmost respect for, leaders in their industry and super folks that I’ve always wanted to bring here,” he says.
Starting just a few months from now, on November 17, Gabrielle Hamilton, chef-owner of New York’s Prune and bestselling author of Blood, Bones, and Butter and Prune will join the team at Vetri for the first in a series of ticketed dinners that will take place in Vetri’s upstairs private dining room. In January, the restaurant will host Fred Morin and Marco Frappier of Joe Beef in Montreal. Next up are Paul Kahan of the Publican in Chicago and then Massimo Bottura of the three-Michelin star Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy.
Next summer, Bobby Flay and Michael Symon will do a joint dinner at Vetri. In September 2018, Michael Tusk of San Francisco’s Quince visits.
The plan for these dinners is to keep them small and intimate, exclusive to Vetri’s upstairs space and not including the main dining room — which means a maximum of 11-18 seats available.
“When you do events for 50, 60, 70 people, you can make nice things,” Vetri explains, “but for 20 you can make really nice things. I like the idea of an intimate evening, for me and for the [guest] chefs also.”
Like any good host, Vetri is open to the input of his guests. So each dinner will vary — both in number of courses and price per ticket — relative to the style and needs of each visiting chef. Some events may be more like pop-ups of their own restaurants in the Vetri space, while others will be more collaborative.
What’s more, Vetri is also using this upcoming anniversary to make a few changes. The restaurant is changing its name from Vetri Ristorante to Vetri Cucina, a subtle shift that speaks to the way it has grown up in the two decades since its opening.
“When I opened,” says Vetri, “it was just me and one other line cook. Through the years [the restaurant] has really evolved into this collaboration with everyone who works here, who has worked here — the somms, the servers, the bussers, the chefs. It’s not just Vetri anymore. The way the restaurant runs now, everyone who’s involved there, they bring life to the restaurant, and I look at myself like the rudder, steering the ship.”
Tickets for the guest-chef dinner series, which start at $350, are on sale now at Vetri.