To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Center City District Restaurant Week, we’ll be spending time celebrating the chefs and restaurateurs—and some of their favorite recipes—as we get closer to the event.
This week, we’re excited to share some stories and insights from Mike Brenfleck of Spice Finch. Noted for their “seductive Mediterranean flavors” by The Philadelphia Inquirer when they opened in 2018, this spot right off of Rittenhouse Square has a menu featuring modern takes on Mediterranean classics spanning from Morocco to Greece.
What inspired your journey to become a chef?
I've always been fascinated with food, but reading A Roald Dahl book called George's Marvelous Medicine at a very young age inspired me to think about bringing a bunch of different ingredients together and making something magical. For whatever reason that translated from making medicine to creating food. The Food Network's rise in popularity at the time probably had something to do with that.
What inspired your approach to cooking?
I've always had a strong work ethic and I think that is what motivates me the most. I never, ever want to buy an already processed ingredient. I want to make everything from scratch and be able to put my touch into every step. Usually the only way to do this is to put in a lot of effort, which works for me because grinding is my wheelhouse.
What has been the proudest moment of your journey as a chef?
I grew up in Allentown where, at the time, the restaurant scene was mostly chain and franchise places. This is really where I got my start along with working at a country club. Those experiences taught me a lot but I think that moving to Philadelphia and thriving in a more refined atmosphere was really a turning point for my career.
Can you tell us about the recipe your team shared, including the story behind it, its inspiration, and why you chose to submit it?
Unfortunately I can't take credit for the dish we are submitting, this was a creation of our very talented former chefs Jen (Carroll) and Billy (Riddle). However, what I do know about the dish is that it was inspired by a traditional Tabbouleh with the idea to make something that was more health conscious. Something that makes you feel healthy and nourished and not weighed down. Subbing bulgur for quinoa and adding grated broccoli accomplishes this well. Another great thing is we are able to utilize the whole broccoli instead of just the florets.
What inspired the inclusion of mocktails on your menu?
We wanted to have options on our drink menu that were accessible to all. Including those who choose to abstain from alcohol, whatever their reason may be.
Stay tuned as we continue to share more of these stories as we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Center City District Restaurant Week, and check out all of the amazing restaurant options in Center City!