Iron Chef Jose Garces Introduces New Chef in Residency Tonii Hicks at Volvér

-Courtesy of Aversa PR & Events

Chef Jose Garces welcomes Chef Tonii Hicks as the next Chef in Residency at Volvér at the Kimmel Center (300 S. Broad Street). This award-winning program supports the collective vision of the Kimmel Cultural Campus and Garces to foster an inclusive, innovative cultural future for Philadelphia by supporting emerging minority chefs. Chef Hicks’ residency will run now through March 19, 2023, with exclusive dishes inspired by North African cuisine, including Golden Beet Crudo, Shrimp Tostada, Salmon Cake, Steamed Fish, Lamb Chops, and Cherry Water Ice. During the residency, Chef Hicks will fundraise to open a brand-new commissary building in West Philadelphia and create new hospitality jobs. The Garces Foundation will match up to the first $5,000 raised, giving Hicks the opportunity to raise at least $10,000. Reservations are available at, via OpenTable, or by calling 215-670-2302.

“I am so excited to have Chef Tonii join us at Volvér for the Chefs in Residency program,” said Garces. “She is an absolute force, both in the kitchen and outside. I love the way she plays with flavors and is able to infuse all of her dishes with a level of joy that is rare to see.”

He added, “Philadelphia is a fantastic food town, and homegrown chefs like Tonii are a huge part of what makes our dining scene so amazing. Chef Tonii is a Philly girl through and through, and I’m honored to be a part of her trajectory. She’s not just a fantastic chef, but is also incredibly community focused, and is working to build out a commissary building in West Philadelphia that will help other food entrepreneurs build their success.”

Chef Hicks was born and raised in Philadelphia. Chef focuses on mentoring upcoming chefs, culinary education, community engagement, and food science and innovation. With her Bachelor of Science degree in Culinary Science from Drexel University, Chef Hicks has studied how to manipulate food from a rudimentary state to a delectable entrée. While working over 10 years in the industry and in the finest restaurants in the city, Hicks has learned the importance of food and its applications. Her true passion lies in using her art to acknowledge, educate, and do what it takes to invest in social justice in Philadelphia.

In June 2021, Chef Hicks was awarded a Stone Barns Agriculture Fellowship scholarship to present fresh farm to table food free to residents in low-income communities. In May 2022, Chef was selected as a James Beard House Fellow for their 10-week fellowship program.

Chef currently serves as the part-time Program Coordinator at C-CAP, overseeing student scholarship applications, job training, and cooking competition demonstrations.

Looking toward the future, Hicks has set her sights on opening a commissary building to educate, serve and support the Philadelphia community. While still in the planning phase, she has a clear vision. She dreams of a community-driven space open to chefs, artists, education programs—anyone in need of a space to gather and cook.

“I plan on using the money raised to invest in opening a commissary building in Philadelphia,” said Hicks. “It will provide the community with access to hands-on culinary knowledge and serve as a kitchen space for chefs and a studio space for creators. My goal is to raise up our culinary community and create more opportunity and more jobs in the marketplace. Unlike most Black-owned businesses in Philadelphia I want to own the building that I invest in. Being able to own land in my community while providing useful resources is something that I cherish.”

For arts patrons, diners and community members looking to support Hicks, they can donate during their meal at Volvér before heading to a show or they can donate online at Donations made within the restaurant can be made, like tipping a server, when the dinner check is presented.

For her exclusive menu, guests can look for these additions by Chef Hicks:  

Golden Beet Crudo – Pickled Jicama, Chamomile Broth, Grapefruit Ponzu, Mint, Herb Oil
Shrimp Tostada – Salt & Pepper Shrimp, Crispy Wonton, Cabbage Stir Fry, Duck Fat Caramel
Turnip Salad – Arugula, Turnips, Carrots, Pomegranate Seeds, Sherry Mustard Vinaigrette
Salmon Cake – Tomato Chutney, Lemon Aioli
Risotto – Stewed Lima Beans, Ham, Arugula
Steamed Fish – Collard Greens and Broth, Borage Flowers
Lamb Chops – Black Eye Peas, Chimichurri
Churros – Peanut Butter Caramel, Toasted Almond and Coconut
Cherry Water Ice – Candied Cherries, Pretzel Pieces

For inspiration, Hicks said, “The dishes that I chose for the menu are a mixture of things I enjoy eating and cooking alongside food that my mom and dad would cook. The desserts are my favorite part of the menu because I started off doing pastry jobs to get a foot in the door of the industry and they all represent some of my favorite snacks. I always felt that I had no culture and the more I can share what I enjoy eating, cooking and being creative with people helps me define and shape the culture I was missing.”

For more about Chef Hicks, follow her journey on @teamtonii____ (four underscores) and visit her website at

Chef Hicks is the fourth Chef in Residency for 2022-2023, following Chef Reuben “Big Rube” Harley, Chef Chance Anies and Chef Juan Lopez. Upcoming Chefs in Residency will include Chefs Ryan Elmore and Kaitlin Wines of Mom-Moms Kitchen, from March 22 to April 23, 2023, and Dim Sum Garden Owner Sally Song from April 26 to June 4, 2023.

Volvér’s Chefs in Residency program has won local and regional awards and received national praise. In 2022, Philadelphia Magazine honored the program with a “Best of Philly” Award.

Hours for the season are Wednesday to Friday, from 4:00pm to 9:00pm, and Saturday/Sunday from Noon to 9:00pm, with a special three course pre-theatre menu from 4:00pm to 6:30pm. The fixed price menu is $56 per person, and it includes items from both Volvér’s ongoing menu as well as items from each resident chef.

Celebrate the art of fine dining by following @volverphl @chefjosegarces @garcesgroup. Celebrate the power of the arts by following @kimmelculturalcampus @philorch.

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