-Courtesy of Aversa PR & Events
(food photos by Brenda Hillegas)
Chef Jose Garces recently announced Chef Juan Lopez as the next Chef in Residency at Volvér on Kimmel Cultural Campus. Chef Lopez’s residency runs now through February 12, 2023. Through a special donation program in partnership with the Garces Foundation, each Chef in Residency will have the opportunity to raise money to support their work with their current restaurant, or to use for the start of their next culinary journey. Chef Lopez will use the funds to create a new catering division and new culinary jobs, while supporting the next generation of chefs through the Culinary Program at Jules E. Mastbaum High School.
Chef Lopez will showcase his top signature dishes on the Volvér menu alongside Chef Garces’ signature Portuguese-inspired dishes.
“Chef Juan is not only one of my favorite chefs in the city but he is also one of my favorite people in the city,” said Garces. “On a personal level, he’s kind, soft spoken; just a terrific example of a human being. Personal feelings aside, he’s got a huge amount of talent and I’m so excited to see where he goes with it.”
Garces added, “I’ve been keeping an eye on him since he used to work for me at Alma de Cuba and Amada in 2000 and I’m thrilled to see the level of growth as a chef, especially since opening up On Point Bistro back in 2016. He recently pivoted to an all-day brunch/lunch model and it’s become a real go to brunch spot. He’s created an absolute gem in the Point Breeze neighborhood.”
“Chef Lopez’s artistry reflects his Mexican roots and extensive background working in restaurants across our city,” said Matías Tarnopolsky, president and CEO of The Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center, Inc. “We greatly look forward to audiences experiencing his unique culinary talents.”
Chef Juan Lopez is originally from a small, rural town in Puebla, Mexico. Lopez grew up watching his grandmother cook directly from the land- raising her own animals and growing product. He always enjoyed watching her cook. But, it wasn’t until he moved to the United States years later that he first stepped foot in a kitchen himself. Lopez started working in kitchens in a pizza shop in Brooklyn, NY before heading to Philadelphia. He has worked in every restaurant position imaginable – from dishwasher to restaurant owner.
He currently owns On Point Bistro, a small brunch spot in Philadelphia. Lopez has worked at many popular spots throughout the city – Alma de Cuba, Buddakan, El Vez, Distrito, Garces Catering, and Amada to name a few, and was formerly the Chef de Cuisine at Garces Trading Company before setting out on his own in 2016 to open On Point Bistro in South Philadelphia.
When he’s not busy making his hollandaise from scratch daily or prepping specials for the menu, you can find him chasing after his two young children- Santiago (7) and Veda (3)- along with his wife, Mallory, at the local rec center.
“I’m looking forward to getting back into the fine dining scene and pushing myself to think creatively,” said Chef Lopez. “Sometimes it’s easy to get caught in auto-pilot when running your own small brunch spot, and this will give me the chance to challenge myself and showcase the more fine-dining side of my culinary work.”
He added, “While brunch is my current business, fine dining and events is my passion. I would love to expand into more catering and special events. This opportunity with the Residency will help us better market that. Hopefully it will also help us create more jobs in the culinary field for our local community.”
Chef Juan Lopez is featuring dishes at Volver that are elevated versions of everyday food cravings. You’ll also find some items that are featured on the regular and private events menus at On Point Bistro…
Small plates will include:
Pan Seared Brussel Sprouts – Bacon Marmalade, Goat Cheese
House Salad – Artisan lettuce, Roasted Peppers, Cucumbers, Onions, Feta, Crispy Chickpeas, Greek Vinaigrette
Cheesesteak Spring Rolls – Ribeye, Provolone, Caramelized Onions, Mildly Spicy Tomato Sauce
Burrata – Grilled Rustico, Lemon Truffle Honey, Agrodolce Figs
French Onion Soup – Beef Consommé, Gruyere, Cornbread Croutons
Potato Gnocchi – Mushrooms, Asparagus, Bacon Lardons, Fontina Cheese, Herbs
Pan Seared Duck Breast – Stuffed Phyllo Nest with Kabocha Squash Foam, Brussel Sprouts, Roasted Pearl Onions, Amarena Cherry Jus
Butter Basted Scallops – Celery Root Puree, Brown Butter Lemon Sauce, Beet Chips
Crispy Short Rib – Creamy Polenta, Roasted Baby Carrots, Spring Onions, Blackberry Jus
And for dessert, the Banana Pudding (Vanilla Custard, Caramelized Banana, Peanuts) is a must…
For the new season of Volvér, Garces fans, foodies, arts patrons, neighbors and visitors will once again come together to celebrate the art of fine dining in the dual-concept space that features a giant oval bar and lush lounge on one side, and a performance kitchen where Chefs bring cuisine to the center stage on the other. Chef Lopez is the third Chef in Residency for 2022-2023, following Chef Reuben “Big Rube” Harley and Chance Anies.
Guests wishing to support Lopez can make a donation during their meal at Volver. Donations can be made, similar to tipping a server, when the dinner check is presented. The Garces Foundation will match up to the first $5,000, giving each resident chef the opportunity to raise at least $10,000. The matching grant will be donated by the Garces Foundation, which offers additional resources for the hospitality industry like medical and educational services that the resident chef can take advantage of for themselves or their staff, and to help them reach their goal/pivot.
Donations for Lopez can be made also online through the link below:
“We are thrilled to support these talented chefs and to be a partner in the chefs in residency project,” said Garces Foundation Executive Director Robin Morris. “Philly’s food scene is the best in the country because of the dynamic energy and work ethic of our immigrant food workers and the diversity of chefs and cuisines.”
Volvér’s hours for the season will be from Wednesday to Sunday, from 4:00pm to 9:00pm, with a special pre-theatre menu served from 4:00pm to 6:30pm, and happy hour from 7:30pm to 9:00pm. Reservations are now available at www.volverrestaurant.com, via OpenTable, or by calling 215-670-2302. Celebrate the art of fine dining by following Volvér on social media at @volverphl @chefjosegarces and @garcesgroup. All guests to Volver must be vaccinated per Kimmel Cultural Campus policy. Volver is located at 300 S. Broad Street, in Center City, Philadelphia.