-Courtesy of Aversa PR & Events
Chef Jose Garces welcomes Kaitlin Wines and Ryan Elmore of Mom-Mom’s Kitchen as the next Chefs 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. The residency for Wines and Elmore runs March 22 to April 23, 2023, with exclusive dishes that pay homage to classic Polish food and ingredients. The duo’s menu will include Polish Easter Soup, Truffled Cheesesteak Pierogi, Mushrooms with Buckwheat Polenta, Stuffed Cabbage, “Leniwe” (Lazy) Pierogi with Lamb, and Filet Mignon with Potato Pierogi. During the residency, Chefs will fundraise to open a new bar and restaurant in the former home of Krakus Market in Port Richmond. Garces will match our patrons’ donations, dollars for dollar, up to $5,000.
“Garces’ Chefs in Residency program is a fantastic initiative that speaks to our shared mission to build an inclusive, innovative cultural future for our city,” said Matías Tarnopolsky, president and CEO of The Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center, Inc. “We look forward to welcoming Kaitlin Wines and Ryan Elmore to showcase their unique culinary talents at Volvér at the Kimmel Center.”
“I am so excited to highlight Kaitlin Wines and Ryan Elmore from Mom-Mom’s Kitchen in our Chefs in Residency Program at Volvér,” said Garces. “From their 2014 beginnings as a food cart, to their previous brick and mortar Bridesburg BYOB, to their recently opened South Street location, I’ve been fortunate enough to follow their journey through the Philadelphia food scene.”
He added, “Much like I’ve enjoyed the success of bringing Spanish and Latin flavors to the public, Kaitlin and Ryan are raising the profile of traditional Polish and Eastern European Cuisine through their work. Philadelphia has a huge Polish community in the Port Richmond and lower northeast, but there aren’t a lot of restaurants serving that cuisine in Center City. I’m really excited to have an opportunity to share the kitchen with them and see what they have to offer our guests at Volvér. Please join me in welcoming Kaitlin and Ryan this spring.”
Elmore grew up not far from Philly, at the Jersey Shore (Toms River), where he resided until he turned 18. He then moved to Philly to attend Temple University’s Hospitality Program. He lived with his Italian-American grandmother (Grammy) and his Polish-American Grandfather (Pop-Pop) until he was 10 years old. His grandmother cooked every meal and inspired his love for cooking. They would host their brothers and sisters every Sunday for a big dinner which he always helped prepare. Her hard work, hospitality and love for cooking inspire him in everything he does – especially Mom-Mom’s.
He said, “I spent years bartending in the city, namely for the Vetri group, Memphis Taproom, Jose Pistola’s, and Vedge. My only cooking experience prior was working at a pizza shop at Temple tossing pies until 3am. The money behind the bar was too good to pass up so I honed my cooking skills at home and worked to pay off my student loans by bartending.”
Wines was born in Philadelphia, raised at the Shore (Ocean City) and moved back to Philly in 2008 after attending Ramapo College of New Jersey for Spanish and Italian. As a lifelong food enthusiast, she spent many days baking with Mom-Mom (Rita Chmielewski, who turned 100 in February) when she was growing up. Mom-Mom is Kaitlin’s Polish-American grandmother and the namesake of their business. Along with her grandfather, Kaitlin’s Mom-Mom owned and operated a bakery post World War 2 in Bridesburg called The Chmielewski Bakery, famous for their wedding cakes, babkas, sour cream pound cakes and more. The exposure to these treats and other Polish fare growing up inspired Kaitlin to seek out those familiar flavors as an adult. Harder to find than expected, she began experimenting with Polish food in her own home kitchen.
Wines and Elmore finally crossed paths in 2008 while bartending together at Triumph Brewery in Old City. After years of being inspired dining around the city and throwing the late-night pierogi parties they began to host, the idea for Mom-Mom’s Polish Food Cart was born. The food cart opened in 2014 and is still operating today. Their first brick and mortar opened at 2551 Orthodox Street in 2018 and was featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives in November of 2020. Their second brick and mortar location opened at 1505 South Street in March of 2021 after their Orthodox Street location closed in January of 2021. Despite the acclaim they received in Bridesburg and their success throughout the pandemic, their landlords chose to remodel their building. The team then shifted their focus to a new location, retail model, catering and hosting classes. When the opportunity arose to join the line-up for Volvér, both Chefs immediately jumped on the opportunity.
“We’ve been inspired by Jose’s restaurants for a long time,” said Elmore. “We always looked up to Chef Garces and we admired his importance in Philadelphia’s food scene. I fondly remember watching every episode of Iron Chef and rooting for him. It’s really a dream come true to work with him.” Kaitlin echoed the sentiment— “We want to use the opportunity Jose has offered us to showcase the underrepresented cuisine of Polish food, seen through a Philadelphian lens. We are the next generation of Polish-Americans and we are proud to bring in young blood and creativity into such an amazing cuisine.”
For their residency, dishes will aim to showcase a finer side to Polish food with more refined dishes than the duo has done before. For their exclusive menu, guests will find:
Polish Easter Soup / Fresh Kielbasa, Egg, Bacon, Cracker Pepper
Sausage Stuffed Pretzel / Dijon Mustard
Herring Toast / Grilled Rye Bread, Pickles, Preserved Lemon Aioli, White Onion, Chives
Truffled Cheesesteak Pierogi / Tomato Truffle Aioli, Caramelized Onions, Chives
Lamb “Lazy” Pierogi / Lamb Ragout, Polish Cheese Dumplings, Sugar Snap Peas, Creme Fraiche, Crumbled Farmer Cheese
Mushrooms with Buckwheat Polenta / Chicken Fried Maitake, Mushroom Ragout, Poached Egg, Pedro Jimenez Reduction
Stuffed Cabbage / Crispy Potatoes, Mom-Mom’s Tomato Sauce, Creme Fraiche, Dill
Filet Mignon with Potato Pierogi / Pierogies Creme, Caramelized Onions, Trout Roe, Beef Demi Glace
Poached Meringue / “Fargoias Congeladas” Kiwi Sorbet, Pineapple, Meringue, Cloud, Vanilla Custard
Port Custard Pudim / Vanilla Flan, Sherry Wine Caramel, Fresh Fruit
Sour Cream Ice Cream / Sour Cherry Compote, toasted groats
Spiced Beet Cake / Dark Chocolate, Roasted Beet, Ganache
For inspiration for the menu, the duo wants to celebrate their culture and roots.
“We are proud to represent Polonia and what it means to be Polish American,” said Wines. “We’re 2nd and 3rd generation and we love paying homage to classic Polish food and ingredients, but doing it in a way that’s authentic to us.”
She added, “Mom-Mom (my maternal grandmother, Rita Chmielewski) just turned 100 years old on February 9th! We are thrilled to cook at Volvér in her honor – and to make her proud.”
Looking toward the future, Wines and Elmore are working on opening a new (and yet to be announced) bar and restaurant.
“We’re excited to move into the iconic space that was formerly Krakus Market in Port Richmond,” said Elmore. “We signed our lease but are awaiting funding to begin the process of our build out. We’re proud to take over a space close to our hearts that’s been a major source of inspiration to us over the years. We can’t think of a more perfect location for us to grow into— it’s “the real Mom-Mom’s” old neighborhood. We hope to open in early 2024. The donations we raise will go to this important project so near and dear to us.”
For arts patrons, diners, and community members looking to support Wines and Elmore, they can donate during their meal at Volvér before heading to a show or they can donate online at https://form.jotform.com/230785601547055. A financial gift made within the restaurant can be made, like tipping a server, when the dinner check is presented. The Garces Group will match these generous gifts, dollar for dollar, up to $5000.
For more about Chefs and Mom-Mom’s Kitchen, follow their journey on @mommomnomnom and visit their website at www.mommomnomnom.com.
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.
Reservations are available now www.volverrestaurant.com, via OpenTable, or by calling 215-670-2302. 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.