Timing is everything, and the impending closing of Le Bec Fin is going to work out beautifully for Steven Eckerd, the Walnut Street restaurant's current chef de cuisine.
Eckerd will join the team reviving the Mainland Inn, off the Pennsylvania Turnpike's Lansdale exit in Harleysville, and he would have been leaving LBF anyway. He was sous chef under Walter Abrams when Abrams and Nicolas Fanucci reopened LBF last summer and was promoted after Abrams bowed out.
The Mainland closed in 2010 and was purchased at sheriff's sale by Sloane Six and Scott Clemens, who own the nearby Quarry Hill Farm, where Eckerd has been its agricultural architect for the last year.
So with this tie, the Mainland will completely redefine "farm to table" when it reopens in September. Eckerd's farm work also has given him unique access to many other nearby farmers and purveyors.
Among the changes at the Mainland will be a chef's table, adjacent to the kitchen, that will also host classes and demonstrations.
"It'll still be fine dining, but it'll be in a setting that will have a little more of a purpose than just the fine-dining experience itself," said Eckerd, an Etters, Pa.-born Culinary Institute of America graduate who trained under Francois Bruel and Eddy Leroux at Daniel in New York. He also worked at Osteria and Vetri.