His world-famous restaurant, Le Bec-Fin, was one of the most renowned restaurants in the world for 44 years. Now, Georges Perrier is the inspiration behind Bistro Perrier, a classic French bistro at Walnut Hill College. The restaurant will showcase traditional French fare, led by Executive Chef Todd Braley.
Georges Perrier at Le Bec-Fin in Philadelphia
Known for bringing French cuisine to the forefront of Philadelphia’s restaurant scene, Georges Perrier is a culinary legend in the city, and he’s been a long-time friend of Walnut Hill College. Chef Perrier became Master-in-Residence at the college in 2017, and he began his role at “Le Bec-Fin Redux,” a one-night-only reprisal of his famous menu in the restaurant that would later become Bistro Perrier. That summer, he would go on to lead a lucky group of food and wine enthusiasts on a gastronomic tour of France. Much like the tour of France that our culinary and pastry students take, this unique trip with Chef Perrier and fellow French chef Esther McManus included visits to farms, vineyards, wineries, and restaurants throughout the Champagne and Burgundy regions, as well as a jaunt through Paris. The group received insider insight and exclusive access to French eateries as Chef Perrier’s special guests, making their trip a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Down the road, Chef Perrier will also help guide the careers of young culinarians at Walnut Hill College. He’ll teach classes, host special dinners, and lead workshops for professional chefs on the WHC campus. Imagine how a young culinarian will feel as Chef Perrier guides them and inspires their career. It is truly a life-changing opportunity.
Originally from Lyon, France, a city world-renowned for its culinary arts, Chef Perrier began his accomplished culinary career at age fourteen. He trained with the great chefs at some of the finest restaurants of France, including Michel Lorrain of Casino de Charbonnières near Lyon, Jacques Picard of L’Oustau de Baumanière in Provence, and Guy Thivard at La Pyramide in Vienne, owned by the legendary Ferdinand Point. Chef Perrier arrived in Philadelphia in 1967 as Head Chef for Peter von Starck’s La Panetière. Three years later, Perrier opened his own restaurant at 1312 Spruce Street. He named the restaurant “Le Bec-Fin,” a French idiom for “the good taste.” The small restaurant quickly became a Philadelphia institution. The restaurateur refused invitations to relocate to Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Chicago, opting instead to pave the way for Philadelphia’s restaurant renaissance. Visitors to the city considered Le Bec-Fin an essential stop, and regular patrons traveled from New York and Washington D.C. for a single meal.
During its forty years in operation, Le Bec-Fin and Chef Perrier received the highest accolades in the hospitality industry. Le Bec-Fin was the only Philadelphia dining establishment to receive the five-star rating from the Mobil Travel Guide for a total of twenty-three years in a row. In 1994, readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine chose Le Bec-Fin as the #1 restaurant in the country. The restaurant also garnered top honors in prestigious publications such as Gourmet, Food & Wine, Esquire and Wine Spectator magazines. In 1998, Chef Perrier was honored by America’s leading culinary organization when he was awarded Best Mid-Atlantic Chef by the James Beard Foundation. Chef Perrier’s first book, Georges Perrier Le Bec-Fin Recipes, was published in 1997 and contains more than 100 recipes. In 2009, Chef Perrier was in Paris, France to receive the highest French honor bestowed on a person who distinguished themselves through civilian or military valor, the Legion d’Honneur. In 2010, Chef Perrier received the Academiciens de l’Annee, the high honor presented by the Academie Culinaire de France. (Bio courtesy of AudreyClaireCook.com.)
Walnut Hill College has focused on educating students in the art of French cuisine since it was founded in 1974. From beef bourguignon to crème brûlée, our students have learned the techniques and flavors of France, and we are delighted to showcase their talents at our new signature restaurant, Bistro Perrier. So what makes this bistro stand out from the rest in the booming Philadelphia food scene? As an ode to the classic French bistro, Bistro Perrier intends to revive the long-lost art of true hospitality.
Student Doing a Tableside Flambé Demonstration
Bistro Perrier is set in our European courtyard, which features charming cobblestone paths and an intimate rooftop deck. This quaint and relaxed atmosphere serves as the perfect backdrop for a bistro-style dining experience. We want our guests to feel at home as they enjoy delicious food and wine with friends and family over a long dinner, much like one would at a bistro in the heart of Paris.
Bistro Perrier in the European Courtyard
Continuing the theme of a family-oriented dinner, Bistro Perrier will also offer tableside service. Guests will have the pleasure of watching our management students prepare dishes like Steak au Poivre and Crêpes Suzette Flambés right at their table. Tableside service will give our students the opportunity to hone their hospitality skills while engaging with diners, who we’re sure will enjoy this unique experience.
The Legendary Le Bec-Fin
While the setting and the service shine, the food is set to be the star of the show. We’ve taken inspiration from our esteemed Master-in-Residence, Georges Perrier, to create a menu that hearkens to the days of Le Bec-Fin. Signature dishes include Chef Perrier’s Galette de Crabe, or crab cake, and Bouillabaisse de Marseille, a traditional fish stew. The menu also features Escargots en Croûte and Parisienne Gnocchi as well as traditional Crème Brûlée and Tarte aux Pommes, made with apple, salted caramel, and vanilla.
We hope to have you join us for the grand opening of Bistro Perrier on Wednesday, September 5. For reservations, please call (215) 222-4200 or visit us on OpenTable.
Education is our pride and joy. For over 40 years, Walnut Hill College has been dedicated to teaching the future leaders in fine dining and hospitality. Whether they’re working in the front or the back of the house during service in our four restaurants or learning the ins and outs of the business in our management classes, our students receive real-world training that prepares them for success in their chosen career field.
Walnut Hill College is a boutique college with a specific focus on culinary, pastry, and hospitality training. The small size of the college allows our students to truly hone their craft with specialized instruction and more personal guidance from our instructors than larger institutions can provide. Because of this, WHC is like a family, and we relish the relationships that we develop with our students while they’re with us and that we maintain for years after they graduate.
We also take pride in providing product excellence. Everything from the desserts in our pastry shop to the dinners in our restaurants reflects our students’ creativity, diligence, and attention to detail. With each new term of classes, our students strive to improve upon their previous work so that we can offer the public even more innovative and delicious dishes. As our students graduate and move on to pursue their careers, we’re excited to see their talents shine in the industry–and equally as excited to train the next group of culinary, pastry, and hospitality hopefuls at the start of their journey.