Kermit’s Bake Shoppe Fires Up the Ovens July 22
Fresh off TLC’s Next Great Baker, Chad Durkin joins Brian Lofink to create a menu of Philadelphia classics for Adam Ritter’s latest project in Philly’s G-Ho neighborhood
PHILADELPHIA (July 15, 2013) – Imagine that a pizzeria and a bakery had a baby. That’s how Adam Ritter describes his latest endeavor, Kermit’s Bake Shoppe, on Washington Avenue. And just in case you think he’s taking himself too seriously, he points out that he named it after his cat – who in turn is named after jazz great Kermit Ruffins.
When it opens July 22, Kermit’s Bake Shoppe (note the old school spelling) will be equal parts nostalgic and cutting-edge contemporary – Philadelphia staples like bagels, classic cakes and pizza are all on the menu, but with wheat crusts and gluten-free doughs. And you’ll order everything through a custom smartphone app, delivered to you on a retro delivery bike. It is, in short, the best of the old Philly and the new Philly.
The idea for Kermit’s developed organically over the last few years – just like Ritter’s bars, The Sidecar Bar & Grille and Kraftwork. The bakery will open with the tastes of the surrounding Graduate Hospital neighborhood in mind. Avoiding the industry catchphrase “accessible,” Ritter said Kermit’s is pretense-free, friendly and priced accordingly.
A tag-team that includes a Georges Perrier alum –Brian Lofink – and reality TV contestant Chad Durkin created the menu.
The menu draws heavily on the childhood favorites and Philadelphia institutions, although updated for the times with healthier alternatives and some gourmet flourishes. For pizza crust, you’ll have your choice of either a house made white wheat dough or a crispy gluten-free version from Taffet’s, for example.
The pizzas are all topped with a custom blend of cheeses and, like any self-respecting pizza shop, can be completely customized. There are also six specialty pizzas already on the menu and include Sausage & Peppers (house made garlic sausage, roasted long hot peppers, caramelized onions and sharp provolone) and White Mushroom (white sauce, crimini and maitake mushrooms, sliced leeks, sea salt and crucalo).
The gluten-free crust is available as a 12-inch pie and the white wheat as 18-inch, or by the slice. Pizzas range from $15-20. Toppings include a variety of cheeses, meats like artisanal pepperoni and house-smoked BBQ chicken, and “not meats” such as artichokes and garlic spinach.
There will be variety of soups on the menu, each with their own accompanying bread. Chicken Spaetzle comes with a hunk of mustard bread, Potato Leek with goat cheese flat bread and the Tomato Gazpacho with olive bread. Soups are $4 for 12 oz and $10 for $32 oz. The menu also includes a variety of Hot Pockets (aka, hand pies) for $4 and salads.
For those with a sweet tooth, the cold case will always be filled with an array of 8-inch cakes in traditional flavors. Ranging from $18-22, they include The Classic (vanilla bean sponge cake, vanilla butter cream and raspberry jam); 24 Carat (pure carrot cake, cream cheese butter cream); and The 9th Street (a classic tiramisu). There will be pies and tarts, too.
Candies and confections include bars in flavors like passion hazelnut and crunchy crunch, and treats like divinity, pecan pralines and fudge are also made daily. There will be pop tarts and cream puffs, too. Prices range from $2-8.
Carb-wise, there will be a weekly brioche quiche and breads such as tomato herb focaccia, gluten-free baguette and whole-wheat pita, plus scones and buns. On Saturdays and Sundays, there will be a selection of Croissant ($3-4) and Bagels ($1.25) while supplies last.
THE MEN IN THE KITCHEN
Ritter tapped his long-time collaborator and executive chef at Sidecar and Kraftwork, Brian Lofink, and a new hire, pastry chef Chad Durkin, to create the throwback menu. They in turn forged partnerships with partners like Claudio’s and the kosher/gluten-free Taffet’s, both in the Italian Market just a few blocks down Washington Avenue.
A Philly boy, Lofink knows of what he speaks when it comes to local flavors – although there were a lot of ethnic influences in his childhood, too. His mother was on born an island near Madagascar, so she often cooked Indian-inspired dishes; his father’s French-Alsatian background meant that sausages, sauerkraut and spaetzle made regular appearances at the dinner table. It was their love of food that inspired him to be a chef.
After graduating from Drexel’s culinary arts program, he spent nearly five years in the kitchen at the notoriously high-pressure Brasserie Perrier under Chef Chris Scarduzio. From there, it was on to the new – and much calmer – Matyson, a BYOB led at the time by Chef Matt Spector. He eventually worked his way up to running the kitchen.
Then he met Ritter, who wanted him at Sidecar. There, Lofink’s menus over the years have featured signatures such as “the app formerly known as…” (crab fries) and creamy mushroom polenta, plus tongue-in-cheek dishes like “clam chowder gnocchi,” which was recently featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with Guy Fieri.
In 2010, Lofink began dividing his time between Sidecar and its cross-town sister Kraftwork, Ritter’s other bar in Fishtown. For Kraftwork, he added dishes such as house made bratwurst wrapped in pastry, truffled deviled eggs and French onion short rib.
Earlier this year, he handed the reins at Kraftwork over to chef Stephen DeLorean so he could focus on Kermit’s with newcomer Durkin.
Durkin himself was ready for a challenge after returning home from filming TLC’s Next Great Baker. A neighborhood resident, he was a regular at Sidecar and struck up a friendship with Lofink and Ritter as they were hatching plans for nearby Kermit’s.
Durkin grew up in the kitchen at his grandfather’s Italian restaurant, where he learned to bake rustic breads and pastries. He was always experimenting, even in middle school, when he decided to use chocolate for a sculpture project in art class. At The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, he won a spot on the 2004 American Culinary Federation Youth Team as their pastry chef, and interned under Master Pastry Chef Gunther Heiland. After traveling the world – eating his way around the globe – for four years, he returned to Philly and a spot at Susanna Foo Chinese Cuisine. He eventually became Executive Pastry Chef (and earned a coveted 4-bell review from Craig LaBan) at the award-winning restaurant, before moving to Water Works, where he was the opening Executive Pastry Chef and Chef de Cuisine. While at Water Works, he was a finalist in the American Culinary Federation’s Pastry Chef of the Year regional competition.
In 2008, he took over for his long-time mentor Gunther Heiland at Desserts International, helping transform what was then a wholesale operation into a specialty dessert business, turning out a dozen or so wedding cakes each weekend. He left the business to teach at the Art Institute of Philadelphia and Montgomery Community College, along with appearances on four Food Network Challenge episodes and TLC’s Next Great Baker in 2012. He advanced to the 9th round in the third season, which aired through February of this year.
Located at 2204 Washington Avenue, Kermit’s will open to the public on Monday, July 22. Summer hours are Monday – Friday 11am to 11pm; and Saturday and Sunday 8am to 11pm. In the beginning, it will be carryout only, although there is a long counter if you’re just grabbing a slice or sipping La Colombe coffee. Delivery will be phased in, along with the smartphone app, in the coming months.
The menu is available online at kermitsbakeshoppe.com. To order ahead for pick-up, call 267-639-4267.
ABOUT KERMIT’S BAKE SHOPPE
If a pizzeria and a bakery had a baby, this would be it. A place where classic cakes and chocolate-covered everything fill cases alongside pizza pies piled high with pepperoni, sausage and veggies. The brainchild of the folks behind The Sidecar Bar & Grille and Kraftwork Bar, Kermit’s Bake Shoppe features grown-up versions of the recipes we grew up with. We use the finest and freshest ingredients, and we’ve adapted to healthier times with whole-wheat crusts and gluten-free options. Order it your way online at kermitsbakeshoppe.com, through our smartphone app or give us a call at 267-639-4267. We’ll send it over on one of our retro delivery bikes. Or swing by and visit us at 2204 Washington Avenue – we’re here 7 days a week! We’ll give your mouth goosebumps. Promise!
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Kermit’s is on Facebook (facebook.com/kermitsbakeshoppe) and Twitter (@kermitsphilly). On Instagram, search for our food porn using the hashtag #kermitsbakeshoppe.