The Philadelphia Diet

Fork Chef Terence Feury Keeps Cooks in Line with His Tasting Spoon of Terror

Chef Terence Feury and the Tasting Spoon of Terror
Chef Terence Feury and the Tasting Spoon of Terror Photo: Mike Persico

Chef Terence Feury, who took over executive chef duties at Old City’s Fork one year ago, is one of Philly’s most low-key, yet most accomplished chefs. Feury made his name as the seafood-savvy chef of the Striped Bass back in its Neil Stein glory days, when it was the crown jewel of Walnut Street and both a power lunching and dinner-ing mecca. More recently, he partnered with his brother, Nectar chef Patrick Feury, to pilot the kitchen of the now-defunct Maia on the Main Line and before that was at the helm of the Ritz-Carlton in Washington D.C.. In the latest installment of The Philadelphia Diet, wherein a local food fanatic documents his dining experiences for a week, Feury walks us through an epic Wednesday of grazing, describes how he drank 15 English ales in the name of research and explains how he uses his Tasting Spoon of Terror to keep his line cooks on their toes… and to “break their balls.”

Wednesday, January 27

8 a.m. At home I had two cups of coffee and plain oatmeal with organic Banilla yogurt. It’s a banana vanilla flavor from Stonybrook Farms. Then I had a slice of salami and the crusts of my daughter’s sandwich while making her lunch. She’s four and she goes to pre-K and I make her lunch every day. Mostly it’s cream cheese and jelly because of the peanut allergy rules at her school - we’re not allowed to make PB and J. So it’s mostly salami and turkey and that type of stuff.

At 9:30 a.m., I had one lemon Cliff Builders protein bar, one clementine and water on my drive in to work from Malvern.

At 11 a.m., we had line check. Everyday at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., before lunch and dinner service, I go through all of my cook’s stuff and I taste at least a teaspoon of all the prepared mise-en-place, sauces and soups for the restaurant. It’s like one big buffet or salad bar for me. I always hope there’s nothing wrong, but there are usually three to ten things are wrong, or that I don’t like or somebody didn’t prep the right way. We do this because I want to know about it then, rather than during service when I can’t really do anything about it.

Here are some things I tasted for lunch service and how they fared:

• Rainbow carrot-ginger soup
• Chicken stock
• Alumet potatoes
• Ancho chili vinaigrette
• Remoulade sauce
• Peperonata
• Romesco sauce
• Roasted maitake mushrooms (They sucked. I threw them out and made the cook get new ones before service.)
• Soy-sherry reduction
• Roasted peppers
• Lemon vinaigrette - (it needed seasoning/adjusting)
• Portabello confit, couscous salad
• Vegetables a la Grecque (I had to give a demo on how to do these properly again!)
• Golden beet
• Horseradish vinaigrette
• Marinated olives
• Whipped cream( It needed to be re-whipped.)
• Dried fruit mostarda
• Golden raisins soaked in verjus
• Four slices of spicy peanut chicken for wraps

Do I think it puts them on edge a little bit? Yeah, it’s kind of supposed to. Some of the newer or less confident ones get nervous. The better ones are confident and they’re like “I know you’re not going to find anything wrong today!” They’re challenging me, in a good way. We have a friendly banter. I break their balls.

12:15 p.m.: One piece of Barsotti Biscotti that Ellen [Yin, co-owner of Fork] gave me. It’s from a wine guy that makes biscotti. I didn’t have it with any coffee though, so it was a little hard.

1:15 p.m.: A French roll with Podre Collungo extra virgin olive oil. I grabbed a nice hot tasty fresh roll from the bakery - we bake all of our breads here - and [Fork co-owner] Roberto Sella makes the olive oil at his place in Tuscany. One of my trips to the walk-in I grabbed one pink lady apple. I’m loving them. We get them local from Lancaster Farm Fresh - I can’t remember the name of the orchard. They’re crisp and they have kind of a bubble gum flavor at first. Apples that aren’t too tart can be a little mealy, but these aren’t they’re nice and crisp.

2 p.m.: One fried chicken drumstick. Our cook was making them for Fork Etc. and I couldn’t resist.

3:45 p.m.: One chunk of braised chicken leg from the chicken jus. We use chicken legs and thighs to make the jus - I was straining it and pulled a chunk out of there.

4 p.m.: Two slices of house-cured prosciutto, five olives from the marinated olive mix. We do all of our own charcuterie. My sous chef hung this prosciutto last January and it’s just ready now.

4:30 p.m.: A braised chicken thigh from the chicken jus. This time I ate the whole thigh - it was so good.

4:50 p.m.: One sunny-side-up quail egg. I was testing a way that I could cook 30 of them at once. It goes a flexipan mold - it’s like a silicon inch-and-a-half muffin tin. I put the mold in the oven a while to get it hot first, then crack the eggs into the hot molds, then put it back in the oven for a minute and they come out perfectly sunny-side-up.

5:30 p.m.: One chocolate cookie.

8 p.m.: Every week I eat along with the chef’s bistro dinner in Fork Etc. as I plate it. I usually make a few plates for the cooks to try as well. I end up eating everything because I”m excited - it’s new stuff! Wednesday is probably the biggest eating day for me - I eat the three course dinner in addition to my grazing. These are full portions I ate:

• Green Meadow farm capon schnitzel with quail egg, lemon caper sauce
• pork braciloe with toasted pasta fideus
• Salmon baked in brioche with beurre rouge
• Pecan sourcream streusel cake with molasses gelato (I only ate half.)

I had one of Mike Ryan, my sous chef’s, homebrewed IPAs. I gave them a homebrewing kit for Christmas and they immediately started in on it. This was his first one. It was good - there’s a lot of sediment in it - he didn’t filter it well, but it’s all right if you just decant it. He’s been putting a couple in the bakery fridge for me on Wednesdays, for when I’m done with the chef’s dinner. He knows I like to relax after those.

After work, I went out with friends who had attended the bistro dinner for their birthday. We went to Drinkers - I had two Yards Pale Ales and a shot of Powers Irish Whiskey. It was a birthday shot.

Thursday, January 28

7:45 a.m.: Oatmeal with Stoneybrook farms Banilla yogurt, two cups black coffee.

9 a.m.: One cup of 7-11 coffee with half and half. I heard on the radio there was going to be a lot of traffic, so I thought ‘let me stop and get coffee for the drive.’

9:45a.m.: One clementine

10:45a.m.: One pink lady apple

11:30a.m.: Line check again.

12 p.m.: One piece of foccaccia pizza from Fork Etc. It was one of the cook’s first time doing breads alone, so I wanted to test her out. It was great!

One quart seltzer with lime. I probably drink about a gallon a day in a quart container with ice, seltzer and lime. I drink it at night on the line because it’s thirst-quenching.

I ate a whole bunch of raw carrots, cauliflower, fennel, and celery while I was prepping vegetables a la Grecque.

1:15 p.m.: I ate a handful of gnoochi to test the dough. We blanch a few before we go and roll out the whole batch of dough, which takes a half hour. If the potatoes are overcooked or not milled properly, it’s a big waste of time and you have to do it over again.

3:30 p.m: I had a tasty suckling pig sandwich at Paesano’s. I was heading up to NoLibs to go to the Foodery to get beer for a tasting that night. I hadn’t been to Paesano’s - it was really good.

5 p.m: Line check.

10 p.m: Staff meal of braised pork shoulder on baguette with provolone. Again. It just so happens one of my cooks made that for staff meal. I thought ‘what the hell? I’ll have another pork sandwich today.”

11:30 p.m.: I did a tasting of English beers with my brother Patrick at his house for research for a brew we are making together. We going to make a home brew of it and then a big batch of it with Victory Brewing Co. in June for Philly Beer Week. We’re going to do 60 kegs and sell it here at Fork, at Victory and at my brother’s restaurant, Nectar. We’re going to go with an English-style ale because we like those the best. We tasted 15 in all. Patrick made some dried duck and foie gras sausage we snacked on as well as PA’s Noble cheddar and vesterbotten cheese. We were up until about three.

Friday, January 29

7:30 a.m.: Oatmeal with yogurt, black coffee

10 a.m.: Cliff bar, water

11 a.m.: Line check

11:30 a.m.: Black coffee

12 - 3 p.m.: While I was prepping prepared foods for Fork, Etc.. I ate handfuls of roasted fingerlings, roasted carrots and celery root, spicy blackbean salad and drank one quart of seltzer with lime.

4 p.m.: I had a ham and brie sandwich from Fork Etc.. as a spot check for the new guy making sandwiches there. He needed a little more chutney on it.

5 p.m.: A pink lady apple and line check.

During service while cooking on the line I ate one and scallop, a piece of striped bass from a tasting menu I was cooking, plus a few slices of veal loin. The scallops look great these days so I thought I’d have one for myself.

12:30 a.m.: I just got in from work and had a few bites of cold pizza, then off to bed. It was horrible pizza - my wife got it for my kids for dinner. It was cold, crappy suburban pizza.

Saturday, January 30

9 a.m.: Oatmeal with yogurt, black coffee

12 p.m.: Snacks from the vending machine at the VA hospital, where I was visiting my Dad. I was there with my kids and they were bugging me for some snacks so we had some Doritos and Crunchy Cheetos.

1 p.m.: I had a few slices of summer roll with lettuce and chicken and tuna sushi rolls that my wife picked up from somewhere. it wasn’t too bad. And I ate rest of the horrible pizza. Obviously, I was hungry.

3 p.m.: A small piece of salmon left from portioning the fish for service and one slice of house-cured bacon.

On the line during service: I had another scallop and a lot of black trumpet mushrooms throughout the night. The mushrooms go with the scallop dish along with Swiss chard and chestnut sauce. I just kept eating them - they’re are awesome.

10:30 p.m.: I had half a chocolate tart and some scraps of red velvet cake. Somebody had ordered a red velvet cake for a birthday party in the restaurant. After they were done slicing it, there were some scraps so… There’s always that kind of stuff around. The brownie edges. I’m a sugar fiend, but I try not to do it too much.

Sunday, January 31

9 a.m.: black coffee, 1 banana

12 p.m.:, I made myself an omelet at home with peppers, onions and cheddar, and Espagnole sauce I made from some leftover short rib braising liquid.

2:30 p.m.: Some tortilla chips with mango habenero salsa and a Victory lager. I was watching a golf match.

6 p.m.: We had dinner at our friends’ house. I had some Taleggio with crackers and roast leg of lamb with herbs and orange peel, barley with tomatoes and cavalo nero kale, peas and carrots. Two-plus slices of caramel cake with vanilla ice cream. Ravenswood “Old Vines” Zinfandel and black coffee.

I didn’t make any of it - my friend did all the cooking. I told her that I was doing this food diary thing and it was going to be written about in an article and if it sucked it would be published. And she was nervous! No, I’m obviously not going to be critical if I’m going to someone else’s house. It was really good. The lamb especially was perfectly roasted.

10:30 p.m.: Just 1 tortilla chip with salsa. We got home and after putting the kids to bed I was going to watch some TV. I was going to eat and I had one and I was like, ‘I’m full, I don’t need to eat this.’ So literally just one chip.

Read More: The Philadelphia Diet Archive

Fork Chef Terence Feury Keeps Cooks in Line with His Tasting Spoon of Terror