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 Chef Marcie Turney of Safran Turney Hospitality, known for popular restaurants along 13th Street, including Barbuzzo and the new Darling Jack’s Tavern. Known for their Mediterranean plates and signature Budino dessert, Barbuzzo has been a mainstay in the Midtown Village neighborhood for years.
What inspired your journey to become a chef?
I was at the Tyler School of Art and came back my sophomore year, where there were computer labs replacing our studios (this shows my age!). I was unhappy for the first time; I did not want to sit at a desk all day.
I come from a restaurant family—my grandparents, Bud & Marilyn, had a supper club for nearly 50 years in Wisconsin. I spent summers and holidays in their restaurant and always loved the energy, the family vibe and how my grandma knew every customer. I had been working in restaurants for spending money at art school, so it was a natural transition for me.
What inspired your approach to cooking?
My approach to cooking has always been to cook like I am having a dinner party with friends: Accessible, rustic, full of flavor but also memorable.
What has been the proudest moment of your journey as a chef?
My proudest moments of being a chef are when I see young cooks that we molded come back to be a Culinary Director or Chef for our restaurant years later, or when they open their own restaurant or food company and are now mentoring the next generation of cooks.
Can you tell us about the recipe you shared, including the story behind it, its inspiration, and why you chose to submit it?
I shared a recipe for arancini, which is a crispy cheese stuffed risotto ball that is one of Sicily’s most famed street foods. It is a dish that is also great at a cocktail party, happy hour or as an appetizer easily passed around a dinner table.
We always have arancini on the menu; it is an easily shared appetizer and can change the ingredients with the seasons, like corn/summer, peas/spring, butternut squash/autumn + wild mushroom/winter. I chose to share a recipe for a “cacio e pepe” version. This version you can take and then add any seasonal ingredient you like and fold into the risotto base.
How have you seen Center City evolve since opening?
When we opened our first business in Midtown Village in 2002 the neighborhood had just a few restaurants and retail stores. The neighborhood was known as the red light district of Philadelphia. Now the area is a destination for many residents and tourists in our city. People enjoy the neighborhood feel of boutique shops and chef owned restaurants. Center City feels alive with people dining on the sidewalks and shopping in the neighborhood.
What has made you invest in Midtown Village?
Midtown Village is our home. After 20 years and multiple businesses in Midtown Village, it always feels like the right place for us. The area is in the heart of the city where you have a mix of residents, business people, tourists and convention goers. We are able to take advantage of daytime and nighttime business. The neighborhood feels diverse and full of energy. It always feel good to be in a place where you can feel the vibe of a city that is thriving.
We thank Marcie for sharing these stories! Learn more about the restaurant on their website.
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!