Hot Chef: Justin Perdue talks food trends, Bobby Flay, and burgers

Justin Perdue cooks at Liberte Lounge. / Neal Santos Justin Perdue cooks at Liberte Lounge. / Neal Santos

In March, Chef Justin Perdue came from Chicago to become the executive chef at the Sofitel’s LibertéLounge. We spoke with him about what he learned from working under celebrity chefs Bobby Flay and Rick Bayless, what he thinks of the latest food trends, and how he’s digging Philly so far.

Are there any recent food trends you think will stick around?
I think the organic, farm-to-table trend will stay around for a long time. People are more conscious of what they eat and put in their bodies, and I don’t see that ever going away.

Are you planning to transition to a fall menu at LibertéLounge?
We’re definitely looking at the menu right now. I love summer menus but fall is my favorite because you can start using Brussels sprouts and braised meats.

What did you learned from Bobby Flay and Rick Bayless that you brought with you to Philly?
Flay taught me the proper way to season. A lot of chefs have a hard time understanding what proper seasoning is. I learned a lot about Mexican cuisine from Bayless. I learned that making mole and sauces is not a one-hour process, but more like two days. As a cook you look to a chef like that and hope to be as passionate.

What are your thoughts on Philadelphia so far?
So far, so good. I see a lot of good trends happening in the food scene. It reminds me of Chicago a few years ago when it really started blowing up and chefs were taking opportunities and their good fortune and opening new restaurants and starting mini-little empires in the city.

What Philly spots do you want to get to that you haven’t yet?
I definitely want to go to Volver and I want to go to Will BYOB. I heard a lot of good things about Sbraga too. I go to Pub and Kitchen a lot, I love it there. When I first moved here I went to Good Dog a lot. I just love their burgers.

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