PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- When Ellen Yin opened Fork back on October 15th, 1997, she had a very specific mission: to create a community focused on supporting local farmers and food artisans.
And in the quarter-century since, the bounty of local offerings has blossomed.
The shareable local cheese dish is a perfect example. Executive Chef George Madosky gets the intergalactic, a bloomy rind cow's milk cheese that comes in a little box from Perrystead Dairy in Kensington. He adds a layer of jam under the cheese, torches the sides of the box then lights a bed of Lancaster County-grown hay. The cheese box sits on the smoky hay with a collection of house-made porridge bread sticks for dipping.
Fork has become known for its high-quality bread program and modern American fare, and Ellen says the restaurant evolves with each new executive chef putting their own personal stamp on the menu.
For George Madosky, that has meant dishes like stewed beans, pepita tomatillos soup, dry aged beef burgers and sugar shack oysters from Barnegat Light , NJ that remind him of his childhood down the shore. It is, he says, the kind of comfort food diners have been craving since the pandemic.
For its 25th anniversary, Fork is breaking out some vintage 1997 wines and hosting a series of Alumni chef takeover dinners, each one raising money for the charity of the chef's choice.
Terence Feury, who cheffed at Fork a decade ago, is on deck November 16th with a sustainable seafood dinner. It will benefit a culinary scholarship fund for his brother, Patrick Feury, a fellow chef who passed away this past year.
Fork also launched a Zine to mark its milestone. The first issue focused on sustainability; the second explores how integral restaurants are to the community post pandemic. Ellen says the zine is intended to provide a platform for thought leaders with the hopes of sparking ideas for solutions.
The Zines are $10 each with proceeds going to a local non-profit. The 2nd issue will benefit Soil Generation, a Black and Brown led coalition of gardeners, farmers, individuals, and community-based organizations working to ensure people of color regain community control of land and food.
When small independent restaurants struggled to survive the pandemic shutdown, Ellen joined the Sisterly Love Food Fair, a group of female food entrepreneurs banding together to support each other.
And when the virus sparked a rise in anti Asian hate, she launched The Wonton Project to raise money for AAPI non-profits.
Along with Fork, she runs High Street Bakery and a. Kitchen + Bar in Rittenhouse Square, and she's a four-time James Beard outstanding restaurateur nominee.
While she's not sure what the future for Fork might hold, she says she's confident that the restaurant's commitment to creating community will never change.
306 Market St, Philadelphia, Pa. 19106