Steak 48 Celebrates PhillyChitChat at 16 Years

It is with a joyful heart, and gratitude to thank Steak 48 ‘s Oliver Badgio (Chief Brand Office, Prime Steak Concepts) and Jeff Mastro (CEO & Co-Founder, Prime Steak Concepts), and Nicole Cashman, Cashman & Associates pretty in pink for hosting a dinner in honor of my blog/platform PhillyChitChat 16 years of covering Philadelphia and positively Philly, it’s people, happenings, charities, openings and everything possible pop culture, on July 18. Here’s a little bit of history of how it began, how it’s going. Thank you to everyone who has allowed me to photograph them, or tell a story over these past 16 years.

Mike Toub, my husband of 29 years, my biggest supporter and I on the red carpetn(Andre Flewellen took on the step and repeat photos)
There would be no PhillyChitChat without him. He is the one who encouraged me to start a “blog”, something very new in 2007. This is how it began, quite by accident, I was a guy working in a law firm for nearly 15 years , no photography education, but I like to take photos. A 2 year degree in Liberal Arts from CCP. I worked my way up from the file room to a paralegal position. I read the newspaper everyday, especially the gossip columns, and society pages. I was not a journalist, and I know I write in a conversational style, which drives some people crazy, LOL. I used to get a lot of feedback on this….

In 2005 I was working for a law firm in Philly, (ironically I was often told to stop being the office gossip) who sent me to NYC to work on a large case which needed to be prepared for trial, I was there for nearly two years, during which time I started a blog called Confessions of a Paparazzi” at Mike’s urging to record my after work, late night outings and celebrity sightings. It was the beginning of online journalism, citizen journalists were online before the established media outlets. I began chronicling celebrities, along with Gawker, Perez Hilton, and we all became popular quickly.

Eventually the case settled in NYC, and I returned home, settling into my old life. BUT I missed chronically people and pop culture, and I was bored after the exciting life I lead in NYC, covering events every night, and celebrities (all from outside as I was really just a “fan” with a pocket camera) .

In Philly I knew we didn’t have a lot of celebrities and thought what would be great to amplify; CHARITIES, charities would be great to shine a light on. I retired Confessions and started PhillyChitChat 07/07/07.
In the beginning Philly maybe had one or two events a month, and I had to find them usually through print methods as nothing was online yet.

Andre Flewellen photographs the arriving guests. Andre has been photographing for PCC for nearly a decade.

So I started covering everything, anything, people on the street, people in bars, made friends with key players where people gathered: Thom Cardwell, TLA & Film Festivals, Waylon Nelson, GM of G Lounge, and Ryan Dorsey, owner of Recess Lounge, Mary K. Dougherty, owner of Nicole Miller stores in Philadelphia, Carol Drumstas, Brown Forman, Buffy Morgan, Chorus Communications and John Colabelli, Philly Style Magazine, they had the most glamorous, well connected parties in Philly. (2007 – 2009)

Christie Mandia, Sofia Pignitor, Nicole Cashman and Marlee Beckman of Cashman & Assoc.

PCC Post December 2007 – “Philly really is the Sixth Boro and with the opening of G Lounge near Chestnut Street in Center City, clubbing has entered a new and exciting era.” When I first arrived on the scene everyone I came in contact with would tell me I needed to get on Nicole Cashman, Cashman & Associates’ radar. She represented the most notable clients, retail, restaurants and produced the best parties where the most notable, well dressed, fun. I had met Michael Klein, Inquirer, who at the time had a gossip column called “Inqlings”.

I began contributing to his column, mostly celebrities who came to town, but also local celebrities. He credentialed me to the opening of G Lounge, a new exciting club which was operated by NYC guys, but funded by the Govberg’s hence the G in Lounge. I met Nicole, was nervous as hell, but she understood this new media “a blog” and started to invite me to cover events. I made it!!

Phyllis Halpern, Alan and Greta Greenberger, (The three of us have been friends for decades)

Simultaneously Phyllis Halpern introduced me to Thom Cardwell at TLA, a group that hosted both the Phila Film Festival and the Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. I covered both festivals, and fundraisers as an “internship”, it kept me quite busy. It was through this connection I met both Michael Klein and Laura Burkhardt. Laura was the publisher of Where Magazine, which was a hospitality magazine. We spent the next year going to lots of restaurant events, meeting chefs and I got every immersed into the food scene of Philly. That was a great year of gain, LOL

Here I am with my friend Danielle Tripplett, Community Relations at AACR. I met her on the red carpet Stand Up for Cancer event in Manhattan in 2008, with the big celebrities at the time SJP, LL Cool J, Aerosmith, Shia LaBeouf, etc; Danielle asked if the AACR could buy my photos, but I donated them. We slowly became friends, AACR is now one of my clients and Danielle is a core friend, like family.

Michelle Miller, Josh DeMarco and Niki Ikahihifo-Bender Mailata

Around the time I met Nicole Cashman, I met Michelle Miller, who worked with several of the Philadelphia Eagles players. Through this connection I was able to meet a lot of Philly sports players, shoot their private parties (which were usually never photographed) , give them a set and also contribute to Michael Klein’s column, as well as my national wire service. Never did they ask to review the photos , they trusted me I would not publish an embarrassing photo or tell a sordid tale. That initial introduction to sports players helped me with recognition through out the sporting years until today. I made it a point to not publish click baiting stories, knowing I was in this for longevity. (Ironically Danielle, Michelle and I are all friends, they probably met through the Eagles connection as well). I met Rodney McLeod and his wife Erika through Danielle, they are also good friends with Michelle. Erika was at the dinner as well, Rodney was at the Cincinnati Browns training camp. The Eagles play them 8/17/23 here!!)

Sabrina Tamburino Thorne

PhillyChitChat readers first met Sabrina Tamburino Thorne about a year into the start of the blog. She and her now husband Steve Thorne had been dating for a year or so after meeting at socialite Dana Spain’s annual Halloween party; Sabrina hired me to shoot her engagement party at the Franklin Institute (Nov 2008), attended by TV personalities, every local political person and a few b list celebrities. It was thrown by her mom, the effervescent Carol Tamburino, who was quite a fabulous women herself, with a social calendar that kept her busy nearly every night; I would occasionally accompany her to events, mostly political, to chronicle for my blog.

Around this time the blog was doing well with readership, but I needed characters, and I mean that in the most flattering way. I needed a story line, to fill in the gaps where nothing was happening, and at that time Philly still wasn’t having events on any other night besides Friday and Saturday. But people were still doing things, and I wanted to cover it, especially if it were at a bar/restaurant/business, I wanted Philly to be exciting.

Rob and Maggie Wasserman (Congrats o Vinyl Philly, Philly’s newest hotspot)

At the same time there were some events going on I didn’t know were happening, or wasn’t invited to as a blog was a new form of media and people weren’t familiar with it (the first time I tried to get credentialed to shoot the Philly Mag Best of Party, I was turned down). Shooting Nicole Cashman events definitely gave me the credibility I needed.

At this time Paris Hilton, was famous for being famous. I met Sabrina and she was living as those girls, looking glam, going to clubs, dining out. Sabrina allowed me to cover all things Sabrina living. FUN certainly followed her. One Time Jamie Foxx was in town filming a movie, and he was more than happy to join her birthday party at G Lounge. I was able to get the photo in Michael Klein’s column, much to his chagrin as he wasn’t a fan where I made ordinary fabulous people into ” stars” or Philebrities . (Philly Mag wrote the first of 3 stories on my It Girls over the years and one on me in 2018) I have to thank Joey Sweeney at Philebrity for respecting my blogs mission. I met with him early on, thanks to Annie Heckenberger, to tell him my coverage was about the charities, not the people. He never wrote a negative thing about my blog or related to it. I’m forever grateful.

Aida Sparta, Stacey Kracher, Billy Nigro, Anne Nicholas and Allison Smith – the Rouge Girls and Billy. Meeting them in 2008.

When I first started working for Philly Mag, they wanted a gossipy column. So every couple nights I would do the rounds walking restaurant row in Rittenhouse Square. I would ask people what was hot and happening in the City. Take a photo, then if it was interesting enough I would include it in my Philly Mag column which launched online 4/7/10. Other tidbits I would include in PhillyChitChat.
Stacey and Anne were regular fixtures on the restaurant scene as they lived nearby. They always had great info, and brought the fashion. It was a joy to get to know them, and their crew. We are all still good friends , even though we don’t see each other often. I am so grateful for them.

Table 31 opened and I declared Thursday the new Friday, and slowly over the years Wednesday was the new Friday eve eve. People now a days will go out every night of the week and it’s acceptable. Although Sunday’s and Monday’s are still chill days for the most part.

Christie Mandia (Thank you Christie for organizing and producing the party along with Cashman & Assoc. I love you, it’s a privilege to be your friend) , Alisa Frick, Rosemary Connors, Ben Cross, Tony Frick and Marisa Magnatta

The media crew – 2008. I met Justin Pizzi first (who couldn’t make it to the dinner), he had me participate in an NBC10 documentary on a summer fitness in 2008. It won an Emmy. I will always regret not going to the Philly Emmy Awards, the organizers wanted me to go, and wrote me often. I was afraid of winning, and then having to speak in front of the audience. I have terrible stage fright. We won, I arrived in time for the after party and kiss the EMMY. Where’s that photo? Later that year NBC10 launched a cable show with an entertainment show hosted by Justin Pizzi. He tapped me to do weekly Philly celebrity/people/party happenings. It was a lot of fun. We would tape at 8AM before I headed to my paralegal job.

The Media Crew: We were friends, and often in between my events I would meet them out – Alissa Frick, Rosemary Connors, Jillian Mele, Sheena Parveen, Erin Como, Marisa, they would let me take a photo, I would catch up with their happenings, and it would be news the next day. They trusted me to tell a story, and not a sordid tale. One of them was always dating a bad boy, or a party boy, the stories I didnt tell.

This was really before Social Media took hold, and then media would just report on their own doings.

Dave Spadaro, Eagles Insider, Angela Parsons (excited for their wedding soon), Rob and Ary Santorsa (Congrats on your new dentail practice in South Jersey), Jermaine Jenkins, AIA Philadelphia and Denithia Durgin

Guests had the opportunity to donate to my favorite charity Cancer Support Community at the dinner

Oliver Badgio (Chief Brand Office, Prime Steak Concepts) and Jeff Mastro (CEO & Co-Founder, Prime Steak Concepts) with the Fox29 crew Thomas Drayton, Sue Serio, Shiba Russell, Jason Martinez, and Karen Hepp.

I left my paralegal job in December 2010, I left NBC10 and in July 2011 headed to Fox29 to appear regularly on TV (Thanks to Karen Araiza I still maintained a photo column at NBC10 til she moved on)

Kristyn Aldrich, ASAP!, Priscilla Jimenez, Esq., Joe Val, Ally Management Partners and Nikki Allen White, Welcome America
Ann Cantana, Rachel Paz, Sabrina Tamburino Thorne and Carol Tamburino

Michael Klein gave up his Inqlings column in 2011. The Inquirer hired me to do the online Social Party Column.

HughE Dillon and Talya Hailey, photographer, Team PhillyChitChat photographer for 6 years now
Howard Monroe (Congrats on your new morning weekend anchor gig on CBSPhilly), Stephanie Stalh, Jessica Kartalija and Andrew Kozak all of CBS Philadelphia

In 2017 I started a media partnership with CBS Philadelphia where I have an online column . Today I have party photo columns at Philly Style Mag, Metro Philly, Main Line Today, and Philadelphia Tribune. One more is coming in September, but I can’t announce it yet. In 2018 Philly Mag wrote an article on my business. Hopefully my column in Philly Mag will come back soon, it’s on pandemic pause. My name is still in the magazine under writers etc so that’s a good sign. (In 2016 the Inquirer stopped running party photos online) Social Media is also part of the PhillyChitChat family as well. Most of what I cover there is just random thoughts and sightings I think others might find interesting.

Sheila Hess, City Representative, presents me with a Proclamation of my 16 years doing Philly Chit Chat. It’s quite an honor, and beautiful. Thanks – photo by Tayla Hailey

Thank you so much for the out pouring of love over the years, which helped create PhillyChitChat for all of us. Philly is back and I am ready to go full steam ahead and cover the fun !!