Danny Giorgio was a somewhat shy kid growing up in South Philly’s Girard Estates neighborhood. He enjoyed hanging out, just not with people his own age.
“All my friends were older ladies,” says the 30-year-old chef. And Giorgio and his crew of biddies had an occasional tradition: dip nights on the step. “We would plan to make dip and bring it out on the step, and then we’d just sit out there and talk.”
That childhood memory wasn’t the inspiration for the Dip Daddy — Giorgio’s pandemic-born business — per se, but it keeps the Culinary Institute of America grad and Safran Turney veteran enthused about his work day in and day out.
“The thing that makes me really enjoy the dips is the conviviality of it,” he says as he folds together ingredients in his commissary-kitchen space, in West Philly’s Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises. That’s where he produces an array of carefully conceived spreads and “dippables” (homemade pita chips, grissini, bagel chips, and his trademark mustache-shaped pretzel chips) for markets and pop-ups, as well as preordered pickups and delivery.
Giorgio launched the business earlier this summer, after a catering client had sung his dips’ praises and suggested he sell them, an idea he originally shrugged off. “They were like, ‘But you’re the dip daddy — you have to.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my god, that is a great name.’” He was also looking for a replacement for private, in-home cooking classes, which had become his livelihood after he left the restaurant industry in 2019.
Five recipes anchor the Dip Daddy’s rotating selection for now: the Arty, a sunset-orange blend of roasted tomatoes and artichokes; the Herby, a hearty interpretation of green goddess dressing bolstered by cannellini beans, Greek yogurt, and feta; the Go-To, garlicky hummus topped with bourbon-caramelized onions; the OG Pimento, the Southern spread of cheddar, red peppers, and mayonnaise (Giorgio uses aioli); and the Buff, a chipotle-spiked buffalo chicken-queso dip.
The Buff most closely recalls Giorgio’s evenings on a South Philly stoop. It’s his chef-influenced adaptation of a dip-night standard made with a stick of cream cheese, a half-bottle of hot sauce, and a can of chicken. To upgrade that combo, he marinates chicken breast in coriander, cumin, and smoked paprika, then grills and roasts it. It’s mixed with smoked gouda, cheddar, fresh and pickled jalapeños, cilantro, scallions, and hot sauce. Far from dip night’s recipe (”all you tasted was hot sauce”), the Buff brings heat with depth and restraint, courtesy of chipotles in adobo and cream cheese. He likes it served hot, but says most customers happily eat it cold or at room temp.
Giorgio also crafted the recipes for his hand-cut chips. He applies a personal touch to each — the Aleppo pepper- and pecorino-dusted grissini is rolled thin rather than shaped into a breadstick; the Baltic bagel dough, laced with rye flour, molasses, cocoa, and espresso, is shaped into a baguette before being sliced wafer-thin — but none more so than the pretzel “staches.”
He makes them with a traditional pretzel dough that’s rolled out, then stamped with a mustache-shaped cookie cutter. He dips sheets of the staches in a lye bath to ensure they brown and crisp up correctly. (The lye also “gives it that pretzel flavor,” he adds.) They’re sprinkled with everything seasoning before they’re baked off. As they cook, they puff up into 3D pretzel chips perfect for swiping through dip.
Why a mustache? Giorgio started sporting one years ago, when he dressed up as Freddie Mercury for a friend at Little Nonna’s on her last day of work. He’s kept it since — despite his boyfriend’s mild protestations — and “now I’m stuck with it because it’s part of the brand.”
Much like the rest of Giorgio’s recipes, the staches are labor-intensive for now, but he hopes to invest in tools that will streamline the process as the new project gathers steam. He’s also planning to offer a tailgate package that should pair nicely with another pandemic-era football season.
Dip Daddy has popped up at Primal Supply, the Perrystead Dairy market, the Fishtown Rose Garden, Thursday farmers markets in Wenonah, and at Herman’s Coffee in Pennsport, where customers can pick up orders from Giorgio’s website on Wednesdays and every other Sunday. Giorgio also plans to start Friday pickups at Rival Bros. in Fitler Square later this month. Delivery is available in a number of downtown ZIP codes, as well.
The Dip Daddy: $6-$10 for dips in 8- and 16-ounce portions, $5 per bag for dippables; order pickup or delivery at thedipdaddy.com; preordered pickups available at Herman’s Coffee at 1313 S. Third St. and Rival Bros. at 2400 Lombard St.; follow @thedipdaddy on Instagram for pop-up and market appearances.