Friday, November 21, 2008



Please visit Philly Chit Chat daily for the continuing coverage of Philadelphia's Scene, Celebrities and Celebrations.

Continue reading for the story of the opening night gala...

This week Del Frisco's open's to add to the upscale steak market that is heating up in Center City.DEL FRISCO'S IS OPENED no doubt the naysayers are eating crow as they thought that no way, no how under any circumstances could Del Frisco open on time as it was such a huge construction job to undertake in such a short time. Well boys it did open on schedule, now come on in and check out what they did to the grande ol' dame
Over the course of 4 hours Del Friscos gave shelter, fed and entertained over 1500 people. What an amazing feat by the skilled managers, servers and organizers. Guests were greeted by servers with specialty drinks as soon as they entered the reception tent. I was impressed that managers, Del Frisco reps and even the Chef were right there thanking us for coming and wishing us a good night. Below is Chef John Stritzinger and his beaming wife Nicole. Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse is housed in a 23,000 square feet of retail space in Philadelphia’s historic Packard Building.
Dana Spain is checking her list, checking it twice, making sure that hot naughty and Kathy Orr nice get in Built in 1924 on the southeast corner of 15th & Chestnut streets, the Packard Building is a 407,000-square-foot mixed-use tower rising 26 stories. The long-vacant building experienced a complete retrofit in 2000 at the hands of developer David Grasso of Grasso Holdings, the building's owner. It includes office and retail space and 153 luxury residential condominiums know as the Packard Grande. Then there's Matt Vlahos handling the Press List and behind him is Holly Gross greeting the guest
Oh these two are beaming with joy, Steve Thorne and Sabrina Tamburino! No doubt tonight (Friday) will be a memorable night in their lives and I get to photograph it as they celebrate their engagement at The Franklin. It's gonna be spectacular.
In Michael Klein's column yesterday (Thursday) he really sums up the excitement going on in the City this week:
Rittenhouse Square probably will be one big traffic mess late tomorrow night and early Saturday. Vegas-based celeb magnet DJ Vice will be spinning at Denim Lounge (after a turn at the nearby Pearl tonight), and attendees of two private parties elsewhere are expected to show up at the Walnut Street nightspot.

One is the engagement party at the Franklin Institute for Steve Thorne, the auto-parts magnate, and Sabrina Tamburino of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. The other is a joint birthday party for Wired 96.5's G-N Kang and Survivor alumna Stephenie LaGrossa at Old City's GiGi, of which LaGrossa is part owner. LaGrossa's beau, Phillie Kyle Kendrick, is expected, as are the Eagles' Brent Celek and sports broadcasters.

A slight delay for the opening of Del Frisco's Double Eagle steak house in the Grande at 15th and Chestnut Streets. The first dinner is down for Nov. 28 (no turkey on the menu), with lunch starting Dec. 9. Tonight, about 1,500 people are expected to attend a preview, at which the meatery will donate $20,000 to its charity partner, Project HOME. (End of MK column)

Dan Gross reported in his column 10/28/08 that Sean Landeta, the former Eagles' punter who went on to join the Giants and win two Super Bowls, and local gal Donna Bretzel told their friend, publicist Sy Presten, that they plan to wed in Philadelphia next May. Landeta, an NFL player for more than 20 years, met Donna while he was with the Eagles.
As soon as you walk in the doors, you feel you're in a feast. And, as you know, I'm quite a guy for a feast. It's here you will be greeted by the hostess who will direct you to your table or downstairs to one of the private rooms or hideaway bar

it is also where you find the Vault. Walking through here you will find one of the private dining roomsThis room used to hold the cold hard cash of the well heeled of Center City, now will hold the well heeled heels of some of these people. The carpets been cleaned, it smells fresh and my anal self wants to push everyone out of the room so they don't soil the carpet.
Magnificent, breathtaking, delicious food someone said. I overheard a guest say "These shrimp make up for the $25ks I lost in my investments today." Although it wasn't said by any of these folks, they're probably smarter than me.
L-R - Maria DiPiertro Jenine Neff, David Neff and Kelly Lyle

On the 2nd floor you will find a wall of booths with tables lining the railing overlooking the first floor
Michael Colleran, general manager of KYW television (Thanks PH, who was accosted at the PO this morning when someone asked why I never take their photo for PCC, so if that has happened to you, just pull me aside and ask nicely and you too could be where), Carol Tinari and her beautiful brood, Nina and Mia with Susan Barnett, David Neff and Chris May
Tiffani McDonough and Tina Winston, who were head over heels in love with the steak sliders and the Papaya Martini. Tina has been to several of the Del Frisco's and says that each one is unique, and the food is delicious. She really likes the Philadelphia space for one of her favorite restaurants and looks forward to her return visit.

Making the scene of late Hacina Saadi and her Laura (L)The peps behind Foobooz anonymous and Arthur Etchells
The drinks were delicious, the pineapple infused martini. About the food...steak & lobster sliders were also divine! Jimmy Contreras with Aditi Roy,NBC10 and Leslie Van Arsdale CBS3. Mary Patel the night before she flies to LA to finalize the script for the film she is filming here in the Spring. With her is film maker Charles Block and Quinn Blackwill

Making the scene Thom Cardwell, friend and James Duggan of Buckmonkey
Monica Malpass styling it with her holiday crush velvet red outfit and her friend Stacy Jorgensen
The GPTMC group Morgan Obidowski, Linda Huss, Anthony Malerba, huge Phillies Phan Mary Van Ogtrop, Eric Smith and his wild and crazy friend from college James Scarpella. James is new to town and is looking for someone to show him around. You will surely be entertained by his wacky Paul Lynde sense of humor.
David Simon, sporting a new 'do Jamie Reibenbach and John Tori

Monique Curry and Samantha Brodsky
Breathtaking, don't you think? The tower in the center holds your wine. The main floor holds an impressive number of people. The food was delicious, the staff helpful, KB Consultants and the Del Frisco people pulled off an amazing night showcasing their new restaurant, the food and the experience. I look forward to returning to enjoy a sit down meal, and to see what the place looks like with tables.

In Dan Gross' Column 11/24/08:

Out and about

Eagles Jon Runyan and A.J. Feeley and team senior vice president Mark Donovan were among guests Thursday at the super-crowded grand-opening party of DelFrisco's Double Eagle Steak House inside the Grande at 15th and Chestnut, where food and liquor flowed nonstop.

Other guests included 6ABC's Monica Malpass, Aditi Roy and Harry Hairston of NBC 10, and a gang from CBS 3 made up of Susan Barnett, Chris May, Kathy Orr, Doug Kammerer, Anne-Marie Green and Lesley VanArsdall. The restaurant, whose servers uniforms were designed by Distante (1510 Sansom), opens for dinner Friday and for lunch Dec. 9. Mayor Nutter, City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown and Councilmen Jim Kenney, Bill Greenlee and Frank Rizzo were also at the party by KB Consultants, now throwing high-end corporate events.

Here are a few updates:

At the Grand Opening they served…

425 bottles of wine

275 bottles of vodka

200 bottles of champagne

200 pounds of jumbo shrimp

200 lbs of Australian Lobster Tails

180 lbs pf Alaskan King Crab legs

800 Oysters on the half shell

800 lbs of tenderloin beef

Best of all the Del Frisco's donated $20,000 to Project Home to celebrate their opening here in Philadelphia

L to R: Shang Skipper, Mark Mednansky, Sister Mary Scullion, Dee Lincoln and Ray Risley.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

First Annual "Toast to the Team," a fundraising event sponsored by CBS Radio featuring the Philadelphia Eagles

A few Eagles took time out of their busy schedule last Tuesday to attend the first annual "Toast to the Team," a fund raising event sponsored by CBS Radio - the radio home of the Philadelphia Eagles - with proceeds benefiting the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Since it was sponsored by CBS radio it made sense that there wasn't a lot of press releases out there for me to read beforehand as I wanted to know what to expect.

What I did know was that for only a $100 ticket, fans could mingle with the players in the ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton in Center City while sampling food from some of Philadelphia's finest restaurants (Kendra was nowhere to be found)

Chef Joseph Poon prepares a little something for the huge crowd
Bill Bergery does MC host with a Q&A of Quintin Mikell
Michelle DiPietro and Lisa Masino of Meritage Restaurant at 20th & Lombard. I asked Quintin Mikell for a photo, and it was hard to convey to him that 1)I needed the shot to promote this event 2) I had no idea who he was 3) I was not a fan planning to hang his picture with this strange women on my wall, at my office or in my locker. "You want me to pose alone", me: YES: YES, but he grabbed this lady to be in the photo with him. I thought to myself OK won't be sending that to my agency in NYC.
It happened again with Isaiah Ike Reese and he grabbed Brooke Honeyford, Public Relations Manager, Pennsylvania Ballet and had her pose with him, sweet as she is again I was irritated because normally when someone walks around with an 8lb camera people generally know I must be a news photographer. Finally I pulled him aside

and told him I was national press and needed to shoot him alone. He got it, and then Karma would have me get this shot - LOL
A friend with Joseph Kotarski and Lisa Gaudio
Trevor Laws says that for most games he has a pretty similar routine. He eats big the night before the game, watches a few hours of movies in the hotel. For breakfast he makes a big cup of coffee. Then has the same pregame meal every game; pancakes with peanut butter and honey on them.

Butcher & Singer was in the house. I was just there last night for dinner, yummy. I had the a Prime Rib and the potato pancake infused with sour cream, yummy. Mom had the halibut, at a steak place. She raved about it. Dad was a sports fisherman, so mom knows a thing about fish or two, so if I were you I would get both the prime rib and the halibut. I had the chocolate cake for desert, mom and the lemon merange. We both love the lemon merange. The cake was good, but is it possible it had too much chocolate. Now it did come with cherries soaked in brandy and well I don't drink, but after accidentally eating one I thought I would need a designated driver and would have to start my sobriety count over - NOT. Randi Sirkin, Jeanna Chandler, George Waldie and Chef Shane Cash.

CBS folks Nicholas Coffey, Molly Keegan and Michael Braunstein. (Where the heck has he been lately?)
Of all the players at the event, Dawkins' line for autographs was understandably the longest. He had to be moved out from the center of the room and put at a table to accommodate all of his adoring fans.
he posed with the fans no matter how awkward the shot might appearThe Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has a special place in Dawkins' heart. Prior to the 2007 season, Dawkins and his wife gave birth to twin daughters Chionni and Cionni, who were hospitalized for 17 days after being born prematurely (I saw Mr & Mrs Dawkins at the Marian Anderson Awards on Monday night, grooving to Rev. Kirk Franklin, they were no more than 7 feet from where I was standing). The doctors at CHOP saw the family through. (This shot was in Michael Klein's INQlings on 11/15/08 and can be found online in the Sunday column 11/16/08; sometimes if I get a really great shot of something ie Brandy, on Friday night, I bump my own photos out of the Sunday paper. Sometimes he puts both in, I never know)

Tina Pyne brought out her whole family to support a cause that is near to their hearts, buying 5 arm lengths of raffle tickets at $20 a pop. Her favorite player of the night Brain Dawkins, she wishes he was single cause she has a special place in her heart for him. With her is Jennifer Turbett-Leighton, Pat Turbett, Bill Turbett and Liam Turbett; and in the back is Ian White and Brooke Honeyford.

Max Jean-Gilles poses with Abbey Greenberg of the Flour Pot Cookies, which are delicious. This week the Flour Pot Cookies have a special celebrating Madonna's Sticky and Sweet Tour stopping in Philadelphia

BTW welcome to winter. Last week I was out at Tinicum Park and saw a woolly little Caterpillar with a thick mane of a coat. Looks like I am going to have to get used to this weather.