JAMES RESTAURANT’s Chef James Burke chosen by Food & Wine for Best New Chef re: Party Photos

The other night I went to a party at James in Bella Vista on the edge of South Philadelphia.
It was in celebration of the chef and co-owner James Burke being named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs for 2008; James opened 18 months ago. It’s run by the husband-and-wife team of Chef Jim Burke and Kristina Burke.
The family was on hand for the celebration. Chef Burke and his wife are in the center of this photo.
Some of the food that was passed included hanger steak and potato confit skewers
Chicken liver pâté (hmm love it), Olive tapenade, Tuna tar tar, Porcini arancine
Braised octopus and cherry tomato with tarragon. What I was really impressed with, no not the octopus, but the the servers carried two dishes, one for the food and another for the placement of your used toothpicks. Usually when I am at an event I have to put those things in my pockets, or I see people place them on any flat surface available.

I was really impressed with the crowd that was assembled for the shindig; it really was an eclectic crowd of people, some who I really admire, for example Fashion Writer from the Philly Inquirer Elizabeth Wellington and Big Brother/Big Sisters Kelly Williams. I was so excited to meet Elizabeth, especially as Fashion Week is upon us and maybe we will run into each other up in NYC.For my long time readers you who know the term I someimes use “Philebrity” which I usually preface it with, Joey Sweeney’s awesome term, how I hate he coined it instead of me, ok not really the hate part, but here he and she are: ‘s Joey Sweeney & Ruth Carpenter, with WebLinc eCommerce guru Jen Oliver and WXPN’s Jared Styles

XIX’s marketing guru Molly O’Shea and Lisa Marie Walls. Juan Carlos Fernadez, RJ Thornburg of Bahdeebahdu, Michael Haschak of Pure Design, Warren Muller of (They will be having an art opening in the fall, look for it)
Janita “Applebaum” Styles, Kristina Burke, Jessiah Styles and well another guy in a seer sucker suit that I failed to get his name. Sometimes I don’t want to disburb people I fail to get their names and well that doesn’t make a good Social Diary if names are missing. I work on that.

Jessica Wilson and Kelly KvitkaDJ Joey Sweeney laying down the tracks. Pretty impressive as the crowd was swaying and some folks moved to the space infront of the computer (that is still so weird for me to see, instead of a turntable or CD player, so old and unhip I will forever be). Good selection of music too. It was fun for me to chat with Joey & Ruth since I am such a fan of their site. Fan because I can’t stop reading it, it’s interesting, sometimes it is dead on, but sometimes I get mad when it attacks people I know that I think is unfair, and if its not well then I’m just sad for my friends.

About 150 guests attended; usually (when it’s set with tables),
the restaurant can accommodate 60 or so for dinner, and about 20 at the bar. There seemed to be plenty of room, and the crowd was lively and comfortable. I like when the crowd at a party mixes and mingles, and sincerely that is the vibe you get from James and Krista Burke, relaxed and lively.

This is a great photo

Sous Chef Chris DeFeo who served two risottos: Saffron risotto and my favorite, Basil risottoMore Styles at the same party: Jessiah Styles, Janita Applebaum Styles and Chef James Burke. Jessiah and Janita have been out and about making both Michael Klein’s column in July for his bday party at the G Lounge, and then yesterday ‘casue they were partying with actor Hill Harper over the weekend.

Lauren Jacobsen, Jimmy Contreras and Deborah Zarnow. The girls are wearing clothes they bought at Jimmy’s store, Kimberly Boutique in Center City. In fact Kristina Burke is wearing my favorite designer, Tibi bought at Kimberly’s.

Political writer/film maker who also was in Michael Klein’s column today congratulating her on selling her movie “Electile Dysfunction, here she is hugging her attorney Scott Sigman who must be a happy man to have negotiate the entertainment contract, WHOA is that attorney/client privilege?
I love this photo, and wish I could shoot a lot of my subjects from this angle. All of them really look terrific, hmm maybe I will insist on being shot from above. Joe Zoltek, Annie Heckenberger and Ruth Carpenter (I felt so naked as Annie and I had twit together for weeks and never met, even though we work in the same building, and she knows my intimate thoughts and this was our first meeting – Yikes!!)

PR Style Diva Sarah Doheny and John Snoden
Dan Murphy with my friendly competition, ok we are not competition, Jessica Hawkes and Scott. Jessica shoots for Philly Magazine and is fun, as you can tell, to hang out with.One of the hits of the evening was a signature drink that they whipped up for the evening, called Hendrick’s and Honeydew. Made with fresh honeydew and garnished with a sprig of thyme and a bit of the melon, it was refreshing and lovely, perfect for a swampy summer evening. Check out the recipe after the jump.

Hendrick’s & Honeydew

7 medium honeydew melon balls
1 1/2 ounces gin, preferably Hendrick’s
1 ounce chilled tonic water
1 thyme sprig

In a cocktail shaker, muddle 4 of the honeydew balls with the gin. Add ice and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass and stir in the chilled tonic water. Garnish with the remaining 3 honeydew balls and the thyme sprig. (And we were in luck as the gift bag was cleverly packed with all the items you needed to make the drink at home, even a full size ripe melon. If Phyllis is reading this I apologize for eating your pretzel before giving you the bag the next day – LOL)
I had two shots published from this event. This first one was placed by my agency out of NYC (WENN). It was placed on this site that publishes entertainment photos daily, usually doing involving the arts or food. Contact They cropped the original photo as I would have, to tell the whole story.
The Inquirer cropped it even more. I really appreciate my friend Susan Helfrich “setting” up this shot. I saw her going over to introduce herself, moved a nice women out of the way and captured this “candid” shot. If you follow my style you will know that I prefer a “real life” shot as opposed to the posed one. When shooting a red carpet, it is necessary to capture a posed photo, also events too, but as for photojouralism I really like the natural settings and I try not to disburb the scene too much. Here’s the actual photo, where Matt Vlahos is in the edge of the photo. I saw the photo happen b4 it did, and it took all my energy to not push him to the right, so I “I Dream of Jeannie” willed it, and I was able to get one shot off before he walked into the frame further.
So if you haven’t been to James, don’t wait anymore, it’s delicious and heck he’s been voted by Wine and Magazine, a national magazine I might add, one of the Best New Chefs in the country!!