Guest Chef Biographies
At just 33 years old, Chef Joshua Lawler is one of the nation’s brightest rising star chefs. A standard-bearer in the contemporary farm-to-table movement, Chef Lawler’s ground-breaking food and devotion to old-school culinary techniques have rewritten what it means to the a farm-oriented chef in Philadelphia in 2013.
Since opening in spring 2011, his intimate, 30-seat The Farm & Fisherman has taken its rightful place as one of the most highly praised restaurants in the city, recently named among the top five in the city by Philadelphia magazine in their annual “50 Best Restaurants” issue. The magazine also honored The Farm and Fisherman with their “Best Farm-to-Table” designation in 2012’s annual “Best of Philly” issue, writing: “Plenty of chefs do head-to-tail, root-to-leaf cooking. But none do it quite like Josh and Colleen Lawler…from the beef hearts to the beet steaks, this fresh and inventive BYOB is the real deal.” Travel & Leisure magazine expressed similar sentiments about the duo in their November 2012 issue: “The pair’s devotion to modern American farm fare shows up in dishes like the witty ‘bloody beet steak,’ a slab of roasted beet seared like meat and served with pan drippings and a slick of tangy house-made yogurt to pierce the richness.”
Before opening The Farm & Fisherman, Chef Lawler spent five years as chef de cuisine at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, where he played an instrumental role in the restaurant’s success and in defining the modern farm-to-table movement. Prior to his extraordinary work at Blue Hill, Chef Lawler served as opening chef de cuisine at Bill Telepan’s eponymous Manhattan restaurant, Telepan and worked under Laurent Tourondel at BLT Steak. A graduate of Drexel University, Chef Lawler has also worked in some of Philadelphia’s most prestigious kitchens, including The Fountain at The Four Seasons, Striped Bass and Buddakan. Originally from Conshohocken, PA, he and his wife, Colleen, currently reside in Cherry Hill, NJ with their twin sons, Oliver and Cole.
Chef Roman is one of Philadelphia’s most exciting and talented young chefs. He is the proprietor of Charles Roman Catering, which he began running out of his home in 2004. As his catering business grew, Chef Roman seized the opportunity to open Blackfish in 2006 in downtown Conshohocken, earning a coveted “Three Bells: Excellent” review from The Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as a mention in reviewer Craig LaBan’s recent opus on the state of Philadelphia dining as among the city’s five best New American BYOBs. Named on a whim as Chef Roman was reading One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish to his children, the restaurant has earned tremendous critical acclaim, including being named “Best Restaurant” in Philadelphia magazine’s 2011 “50 Best Restaurants” issue. The restaurant serves seafood-centric progressive American cuisine with French influences, and is a showcase for Chef Roman’s inventive, modern interpretations of classic fare.
His second restaurant, Mica, offers a daily changing a la carte menu, exquisite tasting menus, creative cocktails and a thoughtfully crafted wine list. The restaurant opened in March 2011 to immediate critical acclaim,including Chef Roman’s second “Three Bells: Excellent” review from LaBan, in which he gushed that Mica, “could potentially become one of the region’s best [meals]…This was some of the most polished cooking I’ve eaten all year, with satisfying compositions that were clever, intricate, and modern without being overwrought.” Most recently, Mica was named by GQ magazine in their March issue as one of the “10 Best New Restaurants 2012.” The restaurant is located on the cobblestoned, tree-lined main street of Chestnut Hill and is housed in a quaint townhouse. The interior’s intimate atmosphere with sage-colored walls, reclaimed walnut floors and table tops, large fireplace and marble bar top, make guests feel as though they are dining in a friend’s home.
For Chef Roman’s third restaurant, he partnered with Chef Jason Cichonski to open Ela. The restaurant is the showcase for 27-year-old Chef Cichonski, who LaBan has called “one of our most exciting young chefs,” where he combines an approachable menu of innovative dishes with an extensive wine and craft beer program and inspired cocktail list in a rustic-modern setting. Ela is a serious yet comfortable restaurant with a menu that changes frequently throughout the year, to reflect the latest offerings. LaBan wrote that “few kitchens in town can match Ela’s food value-wise for pure excitement…from the first course to the last, the chef at Ela is hottest where it matters most,” in his glowing “Three Bells: Excellent” review.
Chef Roman and his wife Amanda reside just outside of Philadelphia in Conshohocken with their four children.
Chef Jason Cichonski is one of Philadelphia’s brightest rising star chefs. His artful American restaurant, Ela (627 South 3rd Street, 267-687-8512) is located in Queen Village. Ela’s menu changes frequently throughout the year, to reflect the season’s finest ingredients and Chef Cichonski’s creative, boundary-pushing presentations. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Craig LaBan wrote in his glowing “Three Bells: Excellent” review that “few kitchens in town can match Ela’s food value-wise for pure excitement…from the first course to the last, the chef at Ela is hottest where it matters most,” while Philadelphia Magazine’s Trey Popp called the restaurant “deliciously off-the-wall…completely worth it…a transporting peek inside this rising young chef’s head.”
One of the city’s acclaimed chefs and co-owner of Ela, Chip Roman, first partnered with Chef Cichonski to open Chip’s Chestnut Hill restaurant Mica, another of the best-reviewed restaurants in the region. Prior to joining Chef Roman at Mica, Jason Cichonski served as executive chef of Lacroix at the Rittenhouse Hotel when he was just 24 years old. Lacroix was one of the city’s only “Four Bells: Superior” fine dining restaurants at the time. Jason’s cooking quickly impressed Chef Roman – and countless others. Before his success at Lacroix, Chef Cichonski worked in other highly praised kitchens, including the Pluckemin Inn, a fine dining Italian restaurant in Bedminster, NJ and Moonlight, a progressive American restaurant in New Hope, PA.
Born and raised in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County, Chef Cichonski is a graduate of University City’s The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College.
Today, he resides in Philadelphia & can nearly always be found in the kitchen at Ela.
Chef Jennifer Carroll was born and raised in Philadelphia and attended The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College. She spent a few years training under multiple chefs in Philadelphia then made the move out west. After spending time in San Francisco as the sous chef at Café Kati and Julia, her aspiration to work in one of the best and most disciplined kitchens in the world led her to work at the prestigious 3 Michelin starred Le Bernardin. After four years, Chef Eric Ripert hand-selected Jennifer to lead his kitchen at his new restaurant 10 Arts, bringing her back to her roots in Philadelphia.
Chef Carroll went on to appear on two seasons of Bravo’s Emmy and James Beard Award-winning television show Top Chef season 6 Las Vegas and All-Stars where she garnered nationwide fame and captured hearts of the fans. She most recently starred on Life After Top Chef.
Jennifer contributes her time and talents to many charitable causes such as Dock-to-Dish, Slow Food USA, Women Against Abuse, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Initiative and serves as the Chef Chair for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign.
Jennifer's restaurant, Concrete Blonde, is currently under works.
Steven Howells is currently the Chef de Cuisine at Blackfish restaurant in Conshohocken.
From a young age, Steve had known that he liked working with his hands. The idea of sitting behind a desk all day was not one that appealed to him. He began working in restaurants as a dishwasher at the age of 16. From then on, Steve progressed through the kitchen, working many stations. This led to his attending The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, a well respected culinary school for kitchen professionals in the Philadelphia area.
Upon graduation, Steve began working at the Adams Mark Hotel, under the tutelage of Chef Vince Alberici. From there, he worked for Chef Jim Coleman at the Blue Bell Country Club in the Philadelphia suburbs. Steve then accepted a position as Sous Chef at The Blue Horse in Blue Bell, PA. There, he met his future wife and joined her in moving to San Francisco. While in San Francisco, Steve worked under Chefs Quinn and Karen Hatfield at Cortez. Steve returned to Philadelphia for a short time, where he worked for Guillermo Pernot at Pasion. He kept up correspondence with the Hatfields and followed them to Los Angeles, when they asked him to be their Sous Chef. The restaurant, Hatfields, earned critical acclaim in the bustling Los Angeles food scene, as well as a Michelin Star. After a year and a half, Steve felt the East Coast calling. He returned to Philadelphia and worked at James on 8th. He then accepted a position with Chip Roman at Blackfish, where he quickly became the Chef de Cuisine.
Steve lives in Philadelphia, with his wife and son.
Tennessee native Iris Kampbell first fell in love with mixology while creating cocktails at Woodfire Grill in Atlanta, Ga. She found a passion for working with the seasonal and local ingredients Chef Michael Tuohy was incorporating into his dishes. In 2010, she took her skills and made the leap from humidity and southern hospitality to the hustle and bustle of Philadelphia, Pa. Since her arrival she created drinks at White Dog Cafe, and recently moved to work as a manager for Chef Chip Roman(Blackfish,Mica). Kampbell is already inspired by Roman, and hopes to hone her skills with new and innovative culinary techniques that can be incorporated in her delectable cocktails. Her love of fine spirits does not lessen her love for craft beer and wine. Kampbell's drinks are skillfully crafted and appeal to the pallet of the most advanced or least experienced taster. She is currently working towards the advanced certificate of The Wine and Spirits Education Trust(WSET).
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