When I first sat down with Chef Chris Todd of Christopher's a Neighborhood Place he reminded me of Top Chef cheftestant Ryan Scott. I worked with Chef Scott when I was an extern (fresh out of cooking school) at San Francisco restaurant Gary Danko. The two are similar in that both are passionate about cooking, procuring the best ingredients and teaching. Chef Chris Todd also has something in common with one of my relatives in South Korea. While my aunt has a bona fide chicken farm with close to 3,000 chickens, Chef Todd is just starting out with about a dozen. Chef Todd is warm, friendly and accommodating. In addition, I share his love of the new key lime pie dessert. Read below to find out more.
Name: Chris Todd
Hometown: Mt. Airy
Home now: Wayne
Favorite thing about the community: Within 10-12 years the community has really come to support the town which is great. It's also a family-friendly place which is nice.
Do you do any community work? Yes, we do the 3rd and 4th grade "Walk through Wayne", donate to various local fundraising efforts, promote and plan the jazz and fall festivals and I'm on the Board of the Wayne Business Association which is the largest Business Association in the area.
Years in the industry: 26
First kitchen job: Dishwasher at Noodles in Chestnut Hill under Chef Paul Roller
Earliest cooking memory: When I was at Noodles I was making fettucini alfredo and it would taste differently depending on if I used shallots or garlic.
What brought you to the industry? I needed a job. My mom was into a tofu and no sugar diet back then so if you wanted beef you had to go get a job and buy it yourself.
Advice for home cooks: If you can, stick to your guns, grow your own food, it's so much better that way and it tastes better if you pick it yourself!
Favorite thing to cook: It changes-- I love southwestern chiles/flavors. My menu changes all the time. There are always different specials.
Favorite menu item: Chile relleno: panko crusted and fried avocado, cotija cheese, fire roasted tomato, chipotle and chips.
Healthiest menu item: Our menu has evolved over the past ten years. The regular items are more healthy. There are plenty of salads, you can order a half order of nachos, etc.
Favorite local restaurants: Southwark, Nectar, California Pizza Kitchen (great for kids) and Tria
Favorite restaurant anywhere in the world: The best dining experience I ever had was at Cafe Boulud in NYC. The most fun I ever had at dinner was with my wife at Alinea in Chicago.
Guilty pleasure (food or drink): We take inventory on desserts because of me...The newest one is always my favorite. The key lime pie, bread pudding, creme brulee are all great. My original pastry chef still makes our desserts.
Last meal on earth: Crispy pancetta and fingerling potatoes tossed with frisee with an egg on top, mustard vinaigrette. The croque madame from Balthazar in NYC.
Have you cooked for any celebrities? Raul Ibanez and Jayson Werth of the Phillies, Nicole Richie and the band Good Charlotte
Biggest kitchen disaster: I have spilled 5 gallons of boiling hot soup on myself, someone once knocked over almost 2 quarts of sauce into the deep fryer (which resulted in enormous flames) and we have jump started kitchen equipment with an Audi parked on the street in Manayunk.