As prominent Philadelphia Chef Eli Kulp continues to recover from a severe spinal cord injury sustained in the Amtrak 188 train derailment on May 12, business partner Ellen Yin says Kulp’s spirits are high.
The overwhelming support, from the industry’s top names to anonymous donors, is one of the main reasons why.
Last year, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter declared July 16 “Eli Kulp Day” to honor the chef’s accomplishments. Kulp was named Food & Wine Best New Chef 2014 and his High Street on Market concept, which opened in the fall of 2013, was picked as the No. 2 new restaurant in America by Bon Appétit.
That made picking High Street Hospitality’s date for a benefit dinner an easy one. Yin said they’ve raised around $100,000 for the July 16 event held at Fork Restaurant, an area landmark co-owned by Kulp and Yin where Kulp was the executive chef.
The community support features more than 20 of the area’s top chefs and restaurants.
“Absolutely. He’s amazed,” says Lin, who also co-owns High Street on Market and the upcoming High Street on Hudson—the company’s first New York venture—with Kulp. “The whole family is amazed at the amount of support from people they know, but also from people they might not know personally.”
On July 20, the Friends of Eli Kulp Benefit will take place at Del Posto in New York, the restaurant of Executive Chef Mark Ladner—winner of the 2015 James Beard Award for Best Chef: New York City. Ticket prices are $150 for regular admission and $250 with the VIP cocktail hour included. Fifteen restaurants and a host of top chefs are participating. There will also be music provided by SET Artist Management and a silent auction.
Jon Nodler, the culinary director of the High Street on Market concepts and the group’s other brand, a.kitchen+bar, worked as a line cook for Kulp when he first started with the team.
He says the July 16 and July 20 events have been a combined effort.
“From the chefs to the consumers attending, it’s been such a great vibe. Everyone has really banded together,” says Nodler, a semifinalist for the 2015 James Beard Rising Star award. “Chefs are kicking around different ideas. Whether it’s a collaboration dinner or an event like what were doing here on [July 16] or in Del Posto. You have chefs coming together trying to make it the best possible event. It really showcases a team effort more than anything.”
And he plans to do everything he can to make it special. At Del Posto, he’s preparing a lamb and clam dish. It will feature lamb Carpaccio seared, seasoned with a vegetable hash, then dressed with a razor clam vinaigrette, fresh green almonds, and razor clams from New York, and served on a squid ink rice cracker. The dish will be paired with a house-made ginger beer.
“It’s a really nice [dish] that brings New York into it, but with a little taste of what we’re currently doing in Philadelphia. A nice hybrid,” he says
Kulp also has a GoFundMe page that has raised more than $46,000.
Tickets for the July 20 event can be purchased at Eventbrite.com
All proceeds will go to helping Kulp and his family cover medical expenses during his recovery.
By Danny Klein