When Jorge “Coco” Sanzetenea was interviewing with chef Kevin Wieman and owner David Crudele for a chef’s job at Glory Beer Bar in Old City, he had one stipulation.
“My only requirement was to be able to cook Bolivian food,” Sanzetenea said.
Wieman was all for it, Crudele said. “He really digs that kind of creative energy.”
That’s why you’ll find salteñas and other the flavors of Sanzetenea’s homeland on Glory’s menu. Salteñas are similar to empanadas, though their outer pastry is sturdier and their savory fillings are souplike. (The menu describes them as soup dumplings.) Bolivians nibble off a corner, wait a moment until the internal temperature won’t inflict major burns, and eat them in a few bites.
At Glory, they are served three to an order with a spoon, so you can scoop the filling as you go. Last week’s order was beef, duck (not often found in Bolivia), and a vegan variety with grilled corn in a base of king oyster mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, peas, and potatoes.
Sanzetenea has been knocking around kitchens for a decade — first with Little Fish’s Mike Stollenwerk. “I wanted to cook seafood so bad because Bolivia is landlocked,” said Sanzetenea, who followed Stollenwerk to Branzino and then to Head House Crab & Oyster Co.
Sanzetenea’s next stops were Zahav and Abe Fisher, followed by Southwark and Ambra, and then Emmy Squared, where he made pizza dough during the early part of the pandemic, a repetitious job he likens to Groundhog Day.
He went home to Bolivia for a month to learn how to make the salteña dough from his grandmother and aunt, who owns a repostería.
Back in Philadelphia, Sanzetenea started a company called Delia to sell salteñas on Instagram and Facebook.
But, he said, that didn’t pay the bills, so he turned up at the Continental as executive sous chef and worked there until he heard from Crudele. “Now I’m very happy here doing my thing,” he said.
Wieman and Sanzetenea’s menu is a decent mix of bar food, all fine pairings for the 36 beers on tap.
There’s a Bolivian-inspired ceviche whose red snapper is marinated in leche de tigre. There’s a cheese and salumi board for snacking, plus a porchetta sandwich, braised brisket sandwich on a pretzel roll, a few entree salads, and two desserts (house-made strawberry ice cream in a sugar cookie bowl, and sour cream panna cotta).
Glory Beer Bar & Kitchen, 126 Chestnut St.; 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, noon to 10 p.m. Thursday, noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday, gloryphilly.com.