Volvér means “to return,” so it’s especially appropriate that chef Jose Garces reopens his restaurant of the same name in the Kimmel Center at Broad and Spruce Streets after its 17-month pandemic shutdown — but with a twist.
Garces, born in Chicago to Ecuadorian parents, will debut a chefs-in-residency program with a focus on chefs who were affected by the pandemic. The first group includes Kiki Aranita from Poi Dog Philly (whose kitchen turn starts Oct. 6 and runs through Nov. 28), Phila Lorn from Terrain Glen Mills, Jezabel Careaga from Jezabel’s, Jennifer Zavala from the forthcoming Juana Tamale, Alex Yoon from Little Fish, and Dane DeMarco from Sonnys Cocktail Bar and Wine Dive.
» READ MORE: Jose Garces opening Hook & Master in Kensington
Each chef will showcase signature dishes on Volvér’s à la carte menu for six to eight weeks, alongside Garces’ French-inspired dishes, such as milk and cereal (bacon, glazed chicken, thyme marshmallows, puffed rice, white asparagus, mushrooms), Madai crudo (cured snapper, Champagne cream, black olive oil, poppy seed, crispy ginger), and filet mignon Philly-style (caramelized onion puree, toasted sourdough, red wine-braised shallots, Alpine cheese fondue).
In partnership with the Garces Foundation, chefs will raise money for their current or future restaurant.
The French menu direction and the idea for the new program was inspired by the abbreviated 2019-20 season, which included pop-up collaboration dinners with chefs such as Chris Kearse of Forsythia, Jonathan Cichon of Lacroix, and Peter Woolsey of Bistrot La Minette, La Peg, and Gabi.
Volvér, which opened on Sept. 24, is operating from 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday, with a $56 pre-theater menu served from 4 to 6 p.m. and happy hour from 7:30 to 9 p.m. The regular à la carte menu is available from 4 to 9 p.m.
The regular menus at Volvér are à la carte. Recall that the restaurant opened in 2014 with a novel ticketing system that included two tasting menus — one at $75 to $120 per person and a second at $175 to $250 per person.
Aranita, whose first job in Philadelphia was at Garces’ JG Domestic nearly 10 years ago, will serve dishes inspired by Poi Dog Philly, such as ahi poke tostadas, egg tofu with Maui lavender ponzu, maple salmon gau gee with black garlic mayo, sesame chicken katsu with fig leaf rice and lightly pickled cucumber salad, perilla-roasted mushrooms with forbidden rice and collard lu’au, Kalua pig tacos with shiso and chile peppah water pineapple salsa, with andagi with dulce de leche ice cream.
Next up will be Lorn (Dec. 1 to Jan. 17), who seeks to open his own Cambodian restaurant after working for Hiroyuki Tanaka at Zama, Tyler Akin at Stock, and Kearse at Will.
Careaga, born in Argentina, will use her residency (Jan. 26 to March 13) to support the initiatives of Fuerza for Humans, a nonprofit focusing on mental health for the restaurant community.
The rest: Zavala (March 16 to May 1), Yoon (May 4 to May 31), and DeMarco (June 1 to July 1).
Garces, meanwhile, is several weeks from opening Hook & Master in Kensington.