Jun 27, 2017

Jun 27, 2017


June 27, 2017

The Inaugural Dinner


In benefit of

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society of Pennsylvania

HIAS Pennsylvania provides legal and supportive services to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from all backgrounds in order to assure their fair treatment and full integration into American society. The organization also advocates for just and inclusive public policies and practices.


Funds Raised
Refugees Sponsored


Ange Branca
Saté Kampar

Angelina Branca

Ange grew up in her grandmother’s kitchen where she learned the traditional techniques of Malaysian cooking, a cuisine that bears the influence of multiple cultures dating back to the 14th century when Malaysia was a spice trading hub. Though she grew up in a culinary family, she spent the first part of her career in business consulting, which landed her in the US. After years of living abroad, her nostalgia for the flavors of home coupled with what she perceived as a dying appreciation for humble Malaysian cuisine back home inspired Ange to open Saté Kampar, a restaurant focusing on saté (skewered meat grilled on coconut shell charcoal) and traditional Malaysian cooking made from scratch. The restaurant quickly became one of Philly’s top restaurants and was nominated for the James Beard Award.

The diversity of food and culture that Ange grew up with in Malaysia inspired the Muhibbah Dinners. From the open kitchen at Saté Kampar, she watches diners from different backgrounds enjoy dinner served in both halal and non-halal preparations: everyone feeling at home, comfortable and happy. The true feeling of Muhibbah — when people of multiple cultures, races and religions come together in peace and tolerance — is best appreciated when a good meal is shared. Ange started Muhibbah Dinners to bring together chefs of different backgrounds and cultures to celebrate the diversity with diners in Philadelphia.

Nicholas Elmi

Nicholas Elmi

Twice nominated Best Chef Mid-Atlantic by the James Beard Foundation, Nicholas Elmi is the chef/owner of Restaurant Laurel and ITV (In the Valley) Wine and Cocktail Bar. A native of West Newbury Massachusetts, Chef Elmi graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and has worked in some of the top restaurants on the East Coast (Le Bec Fin, Union Pacific, Oceana) and in the world (Guy Savoy, Paris). He is also the Season 11 winner of Bravo’s Top Chef.

Garnering national attention shortly after opening in November of 2013, Laurel continues to delight critics and neighbors alike, having been named the #1 Restaurant in Philadelphia by Philadelphia Magazine’s Top 50 for the past three years, and one of GQ’s 25 most Outstanding Restaurants in America. It has also been awarded the highest 4 bells from award-winning critic Craig Laban of the Philadelphia Inquirer, 3.5 stars from Trey Popp of Philadelphia magazine, and named a semi-finalist by the James Beard Foundation for Best New Restaurant in America. At this 22 seat gem on East Passyunk Ave, Chef Elmi and his staff focus on French inspired American Cuisine with a nod to regional tradition and contemporary flavors.

Pat O’Malley
Hungry Pigeon

Pat O'Malley

Born outside of Washington, D.C. into a huge Irish family, Pat became accustomed to sharing large meals from a young age. At 17, he enrolled into the Culinary Arts program at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, after which he held positions at Susanna Foo and ¡Pasion!. Pat then moved to New York to take up a baking position at Balthazar, followed by one at restaurant Morimoto. He ultimately returned to Balthazar Bakery as Pastry Chef, where he remained for the last eight years. Now back in Philadelphia after a 10-year break, Pat is excited to share a kitchen with his former colleague and good friend, Chef Scott Schroeder, at their Queen Village restaurant, Hungry Pigeon.

Tova du Plessis
Essen Bakery

Tova du Plessis

South African export Tova du Plessis grew up in a kosher Jewish home, braiding challah with her mother every Friday for their multi-coursed Shabbat feasts. While working at the three Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood, she met Michael Solomonov of Zahav and moved to Philadelphia for a sous chef position in The CookNSolo Group. Tova continued on, working at several top-notch Philadelphia restaurants, including Le Bec Fin, Zahav, and Lacroix. Most recently, she was the Pastry Chef at The Rittenhouse Hotel.

After the arrival of her daughter, Tova decided to realize her dream of opening a bakery with pastries and breads reminiscent of those she grew up eating but with a modern perspective. Essen Bakery is a cozy spot on trendy East Passyunk Avenue that serves up traditional Jewish staples like challah and babka, as well as an array of breakfast pastries, sandwiches, and toasts. Their chocolate halva babka has developed a cult following, and their “grown up” black and white cookies are not to be missed.

Sam Jacobson

Sam Jacobson

Sam Jacobson was born in London and spent his first two decades there. Within 3 years of an exploratory visit to the US, he graduated from New England Culinary School in Vermont and has been this side of the pond ever since. In 2015, he opened his quirky, Best of Philly-winning pie & mash shop, Stargazy, on East Passyunk Avenue. Sam was previously the Executive Chef at Sycamore BYOB in Lansdowne, which was named “Best New Restaurant in the ‘Burbs” by Philadelphia Magazine. During this time, Sycamore was named one of Zagat’s Top 5 restaurants in Philadelphia, and Sam was praised for his “wonderfully inventive” tasting menus.

Ben Wenk
Ploughman Cider

Ben Wenk

Ben Wenk is a seventh generation fruit grower in Adams County, Pennsylvania, where his family owns Three Springs Fruit Farm, makers of Ploughman Cider. Ben earned an Agroecology degree from Penn State College of Ag Sciences in 2006. Shortly after, he expanded the diversity of crops grown at Three Springs to support trips to regional farmers markets and local stores and restaurants. Late 2016 saw the debut of Ploughman Cider, a new venture to express the best of the farm through fermentation.

Saw Maran Tan

Saw Maran Tan was born and raised in Burma. In 1996, at age 23, he left his home and his family to escape the dangerous environment and limited opportunities for education, relocating to Malaysia as an undocumented worker. Maran, who scarcely knew cooking rice growing up, taught himself how to cook in the diverse kitchens of Kuala Lumpur. He endured thirteen undocumented years to gain a wealth of knowledge, skills, and experiences in the restaurant industry. In 2009, Maran started the long process of applying to be a refugee at a camp in Kuala Lumpur, and on February 20, 2014, he arrived in the United States through the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) of Pennsylvania. Maran has worked as a sushi chef for the past two years at a job that allows him to travel around the U.S. and to continue to learn and grow.


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