chef dane demarco

Chef Dane DeMarco at Volvér

Jose Garces’ Volvér welcomes Chef Dane DeMarco for June’s Chef-in-Residency.

For the month of June, Jose Garces’ Volvér welcomes Chef Dane DeMarco as its next Chef-in-Residency, cooking on the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ hot spot until July 24. For those who know and love the chef’s fare, already, DeMarco presents the finest in fun, funky, dressed-up, oddly-named casual dining at restaurants such as Wine Dive, Hawthornes, Sonny’s Cocktail Bar, BurgertimeNJ, and, soon, Chef’s own Hanks Sandwich Co.

Described by DeMarco as “quirky, outside of the box,” and filled with “world flavors,” the usuals of chef’s menus, as presented at Volvér, were immediately heightened by Garces’ white linen experience. And this time, we stuck strictly to the Chef-in-Residency’s menu as opposed to mix-and-matching between host and guest as we have in the past.

chef dane demarco

Starting with DeMarco’s refreshing Residency Cocktail of a Berry Tonic, we shared several small plates of Oxtail Terrine, of which the chef said, “My cheesesteak scrapple. That’s the vibe I’m going for.” And achieved, deliciously and with a little spice. “There’s Gooey Cooper sharp mornay, caramelized onion puree, hoagie relish, and pan fried oxtail Terrine,” noted Chef DeMarco. “Everyone who lives in the city has “their spot” for a cheesesteak. It wouldn’t be a real deal Philly inspired menu with something cheese steaky so why not double down with a Pennsylvania Dutch regional thing and go big with it. This dish totally reps the way I like to reinvent classics.”

The hearty Duck Fat Pretzels dipped in homemade spicy mustard were similar to what DeMarco did with the classic Philly cheesesteak/ and scrapple dish. “It’s breakfast, lunch, dinner. If you’ve lived in Philly, chances are you’ve eaten a pretzel for one of those meals,” states DeMarco. “We’re known for soft pretzels so when I was making a menu inspired by Philadelphia, I couldn’t leave out the GOAT. These aren’t the typical corner shopping cart pretzels though these are made with lye and duck fat, made the old-fashioned way with everything spice, truffle mustard, and love. After all, it is the city of brotherly love.”

DeMarco stated that the Tuna Hoagie Tartare was based on “one of my favorite things in the entire world as a self-proclaimed sandwich nerd is a hoagie. The Italian Tuna Hoagie is one of my faves and doesn’t get the hype it deserves compared to its cured meat counterpart. We really tried to hit all the flavors of the hoagie experience. Sliced tuna, Zesty Italian vinaigrette, crumbled salami, roasted peppers, shredduce, and even the sesame seed to remind your taste buds of that good bread.”

DeMarco wins again.

chef dane demarco

And while the Country Style Pork was wildly flavorful, juicy and Philly all-the-way with its homemade porchetta spice, a pork panko crusting and its pillowy side of white bean puree and stalks of Broccoli de Ceccio, the plush, savory Crab Corn Dog Galette was based on the Gus’ hot dog stand classic “done up with a tuxedo, owned not rented,” says DeMarco. “Crab sausage, classic fair corndog batter, yuzu caviar, and the fanciest pepper hash. It’s the highbrow lowbrow that I’m all about.”

The same went for the Cannoli Manicotti, a traditional South Philly to a T, Italian dinner treat with, what DeMarco called “toasty fresh pasta shells stuffed like traditional “manigot” over grandma’s finest gravy. A Sunday supper with the family if you will. My hope is the guests with feel at home with the dish. It’s familiar yet playful.”

“I think diners should understand that I treat my food like it’s my art form, it’s my creative flow,” said DeMarco before the meal. “I think seeing the playful imagery-filled plates and after tasting them, there will be more understanding of reinventing the wheel. I’ve worked in all bouts of kitchens from pizza shops to white linens, where I strive most and am most comfortable in being able to make food fun. Many of the other chefs during Garces’ Residency program were able to represent their cultures. As the chef during Pride Month, I really wanted to curate a menu that is prideful. I am proud to call Philadelphia home. So I wanted to represent some Philly pride too. I transform traditional flavors and make them over the top by combining, high end ingredients with down to earth dishes. High brow, low brow. Sometimes I get an idea in my head and I’ll just go for it having no clue if it will actually work or not, but that’s the fun in experimenting.“

That was the fun in eating Chef Dane DeMarco’s menu.

chef dane demarco

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