Author Archive

Happy Mother’s Day!

May 12, 2019

It is time to spoil your Mom! She, who stirred the love into your comfort food, will be treated to breakfast in bed, brunch, surprise bling, a picnic in the park and maybe a few moments of peace, a thoughtful card or a phone call today. Many of us associate comfort food with “Mom’s cooking”. Some great Chefs say they were inspired to cook by their Mother’s cooking because she was either a great cook or not a cook at all — either way, love was in the pot.

Paul Prudomme said, “… Food was probably our greatest entertainment—the most fun thing that we could do was food.” Chef Bill Beck shared, “My Mom was influenced by Julia Child and Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmet. She would make Coq au Vin, Quiche, Potatoes au Gratin. And, usually, but not always, on Mother’s Day we would go out to dinner, which was a real treat. The first time I had Lobster Newburg at the Milltown Inn on Long Island — it was like a bowl of heaven!”

But, how did Mother’s Day start? Mother’s Day started as an anti-war movement in 1870 by Mother’s who had lost their sons in the Civil War. Julia Ward Howe, author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, organized the Boston gathering and wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation. (https://www.plough.com/en/topics/culture/holidays/mothers-day/the-original-mother-s-day-proclamation)

From 1870 onward Mother’s Day evolved:

In 1907, Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia, fought to have the day recognized as a National Holiday.

President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the 2nd Sunday in May as Mother’s Day, in 1914.

Anna Jarvis fought for the integrity of the Mother’s Day Celebration to honor our Mother’s and not to be the Holiday for fund raising or commercial profit.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved a stamp commemorating the holiday in 1934.

• The white Carnation was recognized as the official flower
of Mother’s Day in honor of Anna Jarvis’ mother. It was noted
that when the Carnation fades, its petals do not drop, they fold
into the center.

Most Memorable Event!

April 25, 2019

Meet Lisa Weissbord, Director of Catering, Beck’s Cajun Cafe

Lisa Weissbord, arrived in Philadelphia in the 90’s as an undergraduate at the 
University of Pennsylvania. She first started organizing events for Chef Bill Beck in 
2005; in 2015 she came on board as the full time Director of Catering. Since arriving 
and taking the helm of the Catering Division of Beck’s Cajun Cafe, Lisa has 
planned and produced hundreds of events, highlighting and spearheading the culinary talent of Chef Bill Beck. Party season is upon us and what better person to interview than Lisa Weissbord?

• How long have you been with Beck’s Cajun Cafe?

I’m entering my fourth year as Director of Catering, although I began coordinating catered events with 
Chef Beck in 2005.

• How long have you been in Philadelphia?
I’ve lived in Philadelphia for over several decades, moving here while studying at the 
University of Pennsylvania.

• How long have you been in Catering?

For Fourteen years I’ve had the opportunity to work within and coordinate a team in this demanding, creative industry. It’s challenging and has afforded me the opportunity to coordinate events for and meet many distinguished guests, including Barak Obama, Bill Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. 
It hasn’t been boring!

• What inspired your love of cooking and events?

I spent many weekends at the Perth Amboy home of my Czech grandmother, Souzka.
 Sunday mornings she’d let me help her in the kitchen, making everything from scratch– breads, cheese, 
Eastern European pastries– including a few dishes I wouldn’t try, such as pickled pigs feet.

• What is your favorite Beck’s menu item?

It’s a tie between the Chicken and Shrimp Gumbo (when I’m in the mood for savory) and Beck’s Famous 
Bread Pudding (something sweet to savor with a cup of Café du Monde.)

• What is the most frequently ordered item on the Catering Menu?

One is our Bread Pudding (many people don’t realize it has a pear compote baked into the bottom layer.)
On Friday, a gentleman from New Orleans told me this was better than his grandmothers…good thing 
she wasn’t with him!

• Do you have a favorite event/holiday?
Graduations are great fun.
 We help many families plan parties for their sons and daughters that are leaving Philadelphia and many of which are heading to Tulane.

• Do you have any special tips for setting and serving a catered meal
at home?

Let us handle your menu and preparations so that you can relax and enjoy precious time with family and 
friends! If you’re a committed “do it yourselfer” plan a menu of dishes with components that can be 
prepared ahead of time, assembled quickly, and served buffet style. It’s far too easy to underestimate the 
amount of time and labor involved in entertaining.

 

Light the Fire!

April 10, 2019

Meet Laura, Assistant Manager Beck’s Cajun Cafe

Laura, known as Lur when she is working at Beck’s, moved to Philadelphia in 2012 and started working at Beck’s Cajun Cafe in 2016. She is the Assistant Manager and is clearly one of the reasons why people love coming to Beck’s for their Cajun comfort food!

Originally from Barto, Pennsylvania, Laura enjoys living in the city of Philadelphia because, “It’s not overwhelming. It’s manageable and it’s pedestrian friendly. When my friend and I were in Las Vegas, we had to drive to get to the other side of the freeway! No sidewalks!” On that same trip, Laura and her friend visited Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado, the California Redwoods and the Crater Lakes in Oregon. They camped or stayed in hotels for two and a half weeks. When sleeping under the Milky Way, Laura was the one who built the fire and heated up the Dinty Moore’s Beef Stew for her fellow trekker in the wild. But, after two and a half weeks of canned soup and stew she was glad to return home to her Beck’s favorites, saying “the Shrimp Po’boy and the Mac-n-Cheese balls with Bacon. That’s the stuff!”

She manages to find time for Yoga, biking and concerts, all while studying for a second degree in psychology at Philadelphia Community College — her first degree is in Photography. Laura’s interest in criminal psychology began while she was still in High School; Jack the Ripper was the subject of her Senior Thesis project. Clearly still pondering the mysteries of the infamous psychopath she said, “It is fascinating, how a predator can appear as a perfectly balanced person to their peers and then go out at night and commit unthinkable atrocities.”

In the Palm of Your Hand 
 Meet Jonathan Zell, Sou Chef

March 22, 2019

Jon joined the staff of Beck’s Cajun Cafe, 30th Street Station, as the 
Sou Chef in October of 2018. Born and raised in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia, Jon calls Philly home, “I left and went to college in Vermont and came back, I left and went to work at a restaurant in Bar Harbor, Maine and came back, It’s home; I always return,”
he said.

Friends and family have always been central to Jon’s life. While growing up, Wednesday Spaghetti Night was a family tradition — the whole family came to dinner. And, it was during this time that his Grandfather taught him how to make homemade meatballs. “The meatball should be the size of the palm of your hand,” his grandfather said. “Grandpa, your hand is bigger than mine, the meatballs will not be the same size,” he responded. “The palm of your hand,” his Grandfather said.

Now a professional cook, who trained at Philadelphia Culinary Arts Institute, the family leaves the holiday cooking to him. When asked if his mother was okay with him taking over the kitchen for family events, he nodded, smiled and said, “Yes, she got used to it. She was never a really big cook, she did other things.”

“My Mom was a surfer, she is from Hawaii, ” he said. “One of my first memories is sitting under this exotic, ornamental tree, that my sister had climbed, and I was watching my Mom hang ten on the waves of Waikiki,” he shared with a smile. He has not returned for many years and although Hawaii will always be a desirable place to go, other adventures beckon him. “Europe is on the agenda and of course, New Orleans. I love cajun food. I have to go.” he said. When asked what his favorite Beck’s food is he responded unequivocally, “Gumbo.”

Welcome Jon!

Flower Power and the State Flower of Louisiana

March 4, 2019

Magnolia on Gold Cloth; Oil on canvas, Martin Heade

The annual Philadelphia Flower Show is here! And, Flower Power prompted us to share a little about Louisiana horticulture. The State Flower of Louisiana is the Magnolia and the State Wild Flower is the Louisiana Iris. Louisiana is a magical place all of the time, but especially in the spring and summer when the air is filled with the intoxicatingly sweet smell of Magnolias. The landscape is lyrical — unless you are in the bayou and there the tempo changes a bit as vampires and alligators abound.

Magnolias symbolize dignity and nobility. In ancient China, magnolias were thought to be the perfect symbols of beauty and gentleness. And, then there is Sugar Magnolia, the Grateful Dead’s ode to a woman who “…could make happy any man alive” and Dolly Parton’s song, Beneath the Sweet Magnolia Tree — both songs celebrate a passionate roll in the grass under the Magnolia tree. Clearly, those composers had their own mythology about the Magnolia tree in mind when they wrote their lyrics.

The Irises mythology dates back to Ancient Greece, when the Goddess Iris, who personified the rainbow, acted as the link between heaven and earth. Legend has it that purple Irises were planted over the graves of women to summon the goddess Iris to guide them in their journey to heaven. Iris became linked to the French monarchy during the Middle Ages, eventually being recognized as their national symbol, the fleur-de-lis.

Thousands of Magnolia trees bloom throughout Louisiana during the summer. The Magnolia can grow up to 80 – 90 feet tall and span 30 – 50 feet wide. Its rich, sweet fragrance is seductive. The Magnolia was named as the State Flower of Louisiana in 1900. It is named after the French botanist, Pierre Magnol (1638-1715). The Louisiana Iris was named the State Wild Flower in 1990; the first attempt to make the wild Iris the state flower occurred under great debate in 1950.

Don’t Bore Me With a Burger!

March 1, 2019

 

Meet Deborah!

As a foodie, a globe trotter, and one who possesses a guilt free cravefactor barometer for culinary delights in the City of Brotherly Love, Deborah has become a charmer and leader during her seven years at Beck’s Cajun Cafe. She started at Beck’s in 2012 and has worked at both the Reading Terminal Market location and the 30th Street Station, where she is now the manager.

“Don’t bore me with a Burger,” she quipped. “I love blackened food — seafood and chicken. And, here at Beck’s, I enjoy the Blackened Catfish with Cole Slaw, Chicken and Shrimp Gumbo and Beet Salad — all incredibly delicious. I run over to Earth, Bread and Brewery, in Mount Airy — for their Vietnam Veggie — when I have off. It is so incredible!” Deborah’s travels through India and Nepal served to deepen her love of food and culture. “I love dining out, I love atmosphere. When you sit down and have a great meal the day melts away.”

Self motivated, her first job was raising money for the Arthritis Foundation. The entrepreneurial bug bit Deborah when she was just 16 years old, and she launched with her own housekeeping business. She went onto study Marketing and Communications at Temple University — with her secret love being Economics and International Politics. “Micro, macro — I loved figuring out the average,” she said. “I love learning about different cultures. It all goes together. And here at 30th Street Station there are many people from all over the world, on their way to work, or on their way to vacation, or returning home — It is all coming and going here. And, a lot of Amtrak travelers that come to Beck’s are fun, they have been to New Orleans, they already love the food and they love Beck’s.”

Meet the Staff: Chef Jake

January 17, 2018

jake

Do you have any nicknames: The Hermanator, Sugar Beaver

How long have you been working at Beck’s? Since November, but I’ve always enjoyed Beck’s food and have been eating here a long time.

What’s your favorite Beck’s food? The Oyster Po Boy. I love Bill’s recipe.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do? I practice jiu jitsu. Jiu jitsu is a grappling art used for self defense. Everybody should have some basic training in self defense. A lot of chefs do jiu jitsu. That’s how I got into it—when I was working in fine dining.

Are you dangerous? No. And nobody who says they’re dangerous is dangerous and everybody’s dangerous in the right circumstances.

What belt are you? White belt. Red belt is the highest belt. It takes 30 to 40 years to get a red belt. I met a red belt once.

What’s your super hero power and why? That’s easy. Control metal like Magneto because then you can control the magnetic pull of the earth.

Ode to The Train Wreck, as written by a fan

January 4, 2018

So great, we had to post it again. Thanks, Jimbo, Beck’s Official Poet Laureate!

Beck's Train WreckCropped

By Jim B.

Oh, great mash up of bovine and swine

Tossed greasily on a crusty roll with more satisfaction than 1,000 feasts

But unbeknownst to the tongues of those Muslim, & Hindu, & Vegan, & Jew…

As your name may suggest, you are the very depiction of carnage (in the flesh)

Just as wearily eyes are incapable of looking away, so are the mouths of men of turning away

As they yearn hungrily for your sloppy, beefy, cheesy goodness

Your creamy mayonnaise runs deep, deep within your warm center of salami and fried onions

And it is an obtainable spoil for even Scrawny Arms Rob Lowe to enjoy with messy dignity

For it is not without great condiments that any man should be laid to rest

Deliciousness is often fleeting

But yours is not, and it sends quivers down the spines of all with hearty appetites

Be it Adam Richmond, or Kobayashi, or Scooby Doo

The best description of its flavor: DIVINE

The best description of your affliction: INTOXICATING

And alas, the best description of your status post sandwich: COMATOSE

P.S. The Gator Gumbo rocks as well.  It’s a spicy, smoky bowl of reptilian joy.

Fall in love with Cajun Food . .bring New Orleans home!

September 20, 2017

We all love those sultry summer nights, but New Orleans’ fall season is scrumptious. The Saints marching in the Superdome, the Seafood Festival, Blues and BBQ, the Art Walk…these are just some of the amazing things that make New Orleans so unique in the autumn months. While every city around the United States is ramping up their food festivals, the lovely, rambunctious city of N’awlins, as the locals call it, brings the summer season to a close with a full-on celebration of all that this crisp and refreshing this time of year.

Picture yourself in a cardigan and boat shoes walking through the French Quarter, smelling not the heat and seduction of summertime, but the scents of fried shrimp and fires burning while you head to the New Orleans Film Festival, eating Beignets and drinking bourbon. (more…)

Get to Know Becks – Kimber

August 22, 2017

Cajunista Kimber is an enthusiastic young woman who has been working at Beck’s since 2009. Her father is the owner and she started working at the restaurant as soon as it opened, right after she graduated high school. Kimber has been working at Beck’s for so long that she has nicknames for all of her co-workers and says they know everything about her. When asked if she has funny stories about them, Kimber joked that “I have millions but I can’t think of anything work-related right now.”

Her favorite food at Beck’s is the Fried Shrimp Po Boy and the epic fan favorite, the gator gumbo. She recommends eating the gator gumbo with a spoonful of cornbread on every bite. When she is not working at Beck’s, Kimber’s main hobby is photography. She does mostly conceptual and self-portrait photography on an old-school 35mm camera. Kimber enjoys taking photographs and selling prints on the side.

Kimber says “working at Becks is awesome” and is excited about the new breakfast menu. She insists that every Philadelphian MUST try the savory Alligator Eggs Benedict. She enjoys working with the front of house staff and is eager to see how Beck’s continues to grow!