Barclay Prime chef dishes on how he’s changed the Rittenhouse steakhouse

Mark Twersky is the executive chef at Barclay Prime. / Provided Mark Twersky is the executive chef at Barclay Prime. / Provided

Mark Twersky has landed back in his hometown after years of working in New York City restaurants. The chef is now running the kitchen at a Rittenhouse Square staple: Stephen Starr’s steakhouse Barclay Prime(yes, the place with the $100 cheesesteak). Twersky, a former instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, shares with us his thoughts on exec chef pains and raising a hungry toddler.

You came to Barclay Prime about a year ago as a sous chef and became executive chef in the spring. How’s it going so far?
It’s going great, I’m enjoying it a lot. It’s an exciting restaurant with a lot of great food and great guests. I was working in New York for 11 years [but] I started at Buddakan, so coming back to a Starr restaurant was really exciting.

What are some challenges you face going from sous chef to executive chef?
I’ve been working on improving the kitchen staff – their discipline and technique. When I took over I wanted to rearrange the kitchen to improve efficiency. I was nervous that it was too big of a change, and I had people telling me not to change too much at first. In my opinion it works so far.

You were an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America. Do you prefer teaching or running a kitchen?
Running a kitchen has a lot more going on at any given moment, and I like to stay busy. But I loved teaching. It was the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. I took the time to try to understand how each individual needs to learn. It’s hard to say which I prefer — I think I just prefer being busy either way.

Any good restaurants or bars in your neighborhood that you like to hit up on a day off?
I live in Roxborough, so there are a few good cheesesteak joints: Dalessandro’s and Chubby’s. I have a 4-year-old son, so when I go out at home it has to be a place that he’s cool with. We like Taqueria Feliz. My son loves their mac ’n’ cheese tacos.

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