Celebrity chef Jose Andres celebrated the grand opening of his newest restaurant with a speech about veggies and the American dream.
Beefsteak opened Tuesday, June 7, in Houston Hall. One of Philadelphia Zagat’s “11 Most Anticipated Restaurants for Spring,” it features bowls and salads centered around fresh vegetables. Beefsteak also offers an array of toppings, including kimchi, seaweed and poached egg.
The Penn location is the first outside the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and fills the space in Houston Hall formerly occupied by Einstein Bros. Bagels.
The restaurant is well suited for Penn students because of its flexibility, according to Beefsteak Executive Chef Pat Peterson. Vegans and vegetarians have varied options, while meat lovers can pile on chicken sausage or salt-cured salmon.
Vice President of the Division of Business Services Marie Witt said that the choice to introduce Beefsteak was based on student and faculty requests.
“They want healthy, they want innovative, they want fresh, they want fun,” she said. “Chef Andres and his Beefsteak concept hit all of those right on the mark.”
At the grand opening, Chef Andres spoke about his past and his vision for the future of American dining.
“My wife and I, we became American two years ago,” he said. “It was probably one of the best moments of our life, besides giving birth to our three beautiful, American-born daughters. And I’m only saying this because I do believe every citizen — whether you are an immigrant or you came on the Mayflower — I think the role of everybody is just to try to do whatever is right to keep moving America forward, one community at a time. A chef, in this case, can only do it one plate at a time.”
Andres owns restaurants in several cities across the country and was honored as one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” for his activism. He is also a Spanish immigrant and a vocal critic of 1968 Wharton graduate and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s comments on immigration.
Shortly after Trump’s polarizing announcement speech, Andres backed out of a plan to create a Spanish restaurant for the Trump Organization’s $200 million redevelopment of the Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington. In a statement in which he severed ties with Trump, Andres wrote that the majority of his team is Hispanic and that Trump’s “disparaging” statements made it impossible for his company to proceed with the deal.
Trump filed a $10 million breach-of-contract lawsuit, and Andres counter-sued for $8 million.
During the grand opening, Andres thanked Bon Appetit Management Company for working closely with his company and stressed the importance of cooperation.
“When you really decide to work together and embrace each other, America will always be better,” he said. “So yes, that’s a political statement, and you can make with it whatever you want. Here is to showing that, working together, we can do great things.”
Andres said that the food at Beefsteak resembles the food he serves to his family at home. He also joked about the restaurant’s name, which refers to the beefsteak tomato.
“Look at me — I eat a lot of steaks, too,” he said. “I eat, actually, anything and everything.”
But he also stressed the importance of ensuring access to fresh, delicious produce.
“Today it is difficult to find good vegetables and fruits, more often than not,” he said. “We are pushing the boundaries in how we should be feeding America.”
Beefsteak is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Veggie bowls range from $7.49 to $8.49, and the restaurant accepts Dining Dollars as part of the student meal plan.
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