Aimee Olexy reigns when it comes to Philadelphia dining. Talula’s Table, her gourmet market by day, twelve-person tasting venue by night, has been wowing diners from all over (many who migrate many miles for the meal). Her concept with Stephen Starr, Talula’s Garden, opened in 2011, and is an extension of Olexy herself. We’re fans of restaurateurs creating highly unique experiences in cities around America, which is why we love Olexy so much.We hung out with her at Eataly during her last trip to New York, when she was visiting to discuss a possible collaboration with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Seems Olexy is in demand in every city, not just Philadelphia…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
Probably my ideal food day would be cooking in my home. When you work and own restaurants, and travel for food for a living, you crave your own cooking. I live in a region that’s ridiculous with ingredients. I have a couple of chickens, so the first thing I’d do is probably grab some eggs and cook a little something cute with my daughter, and basically spend the rest of the day in my region seeking out ingredients for my dinner. The whole day would be centered around shopping for food, and cooking for that night. I live in an area that has a ton of mushroom houses, so I’d probably go to one of them and do a little foraging. We’re also getting into the time of the year where the hillside across from my house is filled with ramps, so we can forage ramps, wild purslanes, wild dandelions, tons of stuff. Then I’d spend the rest of the time visiting some of the people that raise pastured lamb and pastured beef.
Home drinking and home cooking is pretty nice. You don’t need to drive anywhere. I travel a lot already! I run around often visiting wineries and farms and stuff like that, so if I were to dedicate a day to good food, I’d probably get the most in at home. That would be my ideal food day, and then that night I’d eat my way into a late dinner. I am pretty indulgent so late night I’d probably want chocolate, wine, and cheese!
Is Talula’s Table farm-to-table? Are you getting new stuff in every single day?
Definitely. It’s open everyday, seven days a week from seven to seven. So it’s like the general store of our region, but modern, with modern provisions. Shelves are lined with a lot of products we make – a lot of our seasonal products – and then, each day it’s really small batch cooking. We make scones, a green bean salad, a batch of an egg salad, just one after the other. Making something in a batch for us is literally making a platter. We put out a platter of food, people come and buy it, and it’s gone.
How often are you getting these eggs and green beans?
It’s this huge in and out process. We joke about it a lot. We don’t have a freezer. We have a little tiny thing that we do ice creams in for dinner, but I mean no freezers. We really receive a lot of batches of stuff; we have a farm down the street called Bailey’s where we get all of our dairy from. It’s very rare to have a big local shop that uses pure dairy. I’ll see a lot of places where they’ll retail or use nice eggs, but in our coffee shop, we’ll foam every milk as Bailey’s milk – it’s fresh milk that’s coming right from a cow a mile away. The things that are integral to cooking – like dairy – we get everyday. Certainly tons of vegetables for sure, and we deal with a lot of proteins that are local and/or from a particular province. We use fishmongers to bring in porgie, and we also make a lot of natural whole foods. We do a lot of grains and beans and things like that. A lot of foods that, for me are really simple, but I feel like you can’t get anywhere. I push wholesome eating.
Every night, we serve the private dinner. That’s a secret supper that happens at the farm table for a group of twelve, and in the kitchen for a group of eight. That menu changes every month, and there are ten courses. Each course showcases the season. Some are really hyper seasonal too. What I think is interesting about Talula’s Table and Talula’s Garden is – and people say it to me – there is a real sense of place.