Study delegation from Philadelphia to Milan Expo 2015
Chef Peter Serpico serve as Philadelphia’s ambassador and guest chef at the James Beard American Restaurant on October 20-21, as part of a USA250 study delegation to Milan Expo 2015 in Italy, sponsored by Starr Restaurants. Click here to review the dinner menu.
About the Delegation
Expo Milano 2015 was this year’s universal World’s Fair, which occurs every 5 years. Expo 2010 was in Shanghai and Expo 2020 will be in Dubai. Philadelphia hosted the 1876 and 1926 World’s Fairs, and USA250 is organizing this delegation as we make big plans for America’s 250th anniversary in 2026.
The mission included Chef Peter Serpico, Jon Grabelle Herrmann (Executive Director, USA250), Andrew Hohns (Board Chair, USA250), Lauren Vidas (Hazzouri and Associates), and Sous Chef Allen Carringer. They saw firsthand the unique, large-scale, international event and return to Philly with new insights for 2026. The mission took place during GlobalPhilly 2015 and Ciao Philadelphia! during Italian Cultural Month.
The American-themed restaurant was curated by James Beard Foundation, in connection with the USA Pavilion, and it featured America’s most celebrated chefs during its 6-month run. Chef Serpico’s Philadelphia restaurant Serpico, opened in partnership with Stephen Starr, was awarded Three Bells by The Philadelphia Inquirer. He has earned three stars from The New York Times, a James Beard Award, two Michelin Stars, and numerous other accolades.
Expo Milan 2015 was ten years in the making. With a similar regional population to Philadelphia, Milan attracted billions of euros of infrastructure investment en route to producing a 1.2B-euro fairgrounds, which in turn attracted 20M visitors, 450M-euro in corporate sponsorships, and the participation of 140 nations around the world over six months.
- Click here to download photos of the four courses served by Chef Serpico on Tuesday, October 20, at the James Beard American Restaurant in Milan.
Photo of Peter Serpico, courtesy of Starr Restaurants
In the kitchen at JBAR. From left to right: Jon Grabelle Herrmann, Allen Carringer, Peter Serpico, Lauren Vidas. Photo courtesy of USA250.
Chef Peter Serpico and Sous Chef Allen Carringer in the kitchen at the James Beard American Restaurant in Milan. Photo courtesy of USA250.
Chef Peter Serpico addresses the restaurant guests at the opening dinner on Tuesday, October 20, in Milan. Photo courtesy of USA250.
The James Beard American Restaurant overlooks the gorgeous pedestrian mall Seven Stars Galleria, adjacent to Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Scala.
Expo Milano 2015 is a massive undertaking. Tens of thousands pass through each day, with 20M over six months. Photo courtesy of USA250.
Expo Milano 2015 features a tented corridor down its spinel Photo courtesy of USA250.
Table setting at the James Beard American Restaurant. Photo courtesy of USA250.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Peter was adopted when he was two years old, and was raised in Laurel, Maryland. Food was always a big part of his life, primarily at family gatherings, and it was during his annual trips to Chicago to visit his grandparents when he started to understand how food could bring people together. Whether it was one grandmother’s apple pie, or the other’s lasagne and manicotti, Peter soon realized that food meant a lot to him.
Peter’s path to fine dining had humble beginnings, however, and his first job at a snack bar at the local swimming pool was more chips and candy bars than chicharrons and consommé. When he was 15, Peter started working at Ledo’s Pizza in Scaggsville, MD, which was his first real experience in a kitchen. The hours were long, but he enjoyed it because “it was just a bunch of kids making pizza and having a good time.”
After high school, Peter enrolled in the Baltimore International College Culinary School, from which he graduated two years later. His first true cook job was at the Belmont Conference Center, where he worked under chef Rob Dunn. While the day-to-day cuisine was fairly straightforward, it was during Dunn’s monthly wine dinners at which Peter’s eyes were opened to the range of culinary creativity that was possible. It was then that Peter realized the life of a chef, with its balance of freedom and structure, was for him.
In 2002, Dunn had told Peter to go to New York for a visit, and helped him secure opportunities to stage at both Bouley and Lespinasse. It was at these two venerable restaurants that Peter learned the passion, precision, and discipline required to execute fine dining. When his stages were over, he returned to Maryland, but not for long. Three weeks later, Peter moved to New York, to work under Shea Gallante at Bouley. When Gallante left to open Cru, Cesar Ramirez took over, and from both he learned technique and temperament that would take him to some of the top kitchens in the country. In late 2003, Peter went to work at Sumile in the West Village, and following two stars from The New York Times, he would move on to work at Jovia on the Upper East Side.
In 2006, Peter began working with David Chang as sous chef at the original Momofuku Noodle Shop in the East Village. For the next six years, Peter worked with Chang to open Momofuku Ssam, Momofuku Ko (where he was the opening chef de cuisine, Ma Peche, and ultimately, Momofuku Sydney, helping to grow the family of restaurants while maintaining the highest level of quality in each location. As Director of Culinary Operations, Peter was responsible for helping with menu creation and execution at all the restaurants, and earned three stars from The New York Times, a James Beard Award, two Michelin Stars, and numerous other accolades.
In late 2012, Peter was introduced to Stephen Starr through a mutual friend. The two met at Buddakan in New York City and had a frank conversation about what kind of restaurant Peter wanted to open, and thus Serpico was born. Starr asked Peter to spend some time in Philadelphia to get a feel for town and to further develop the restaurant. Two months later, Peter was in love with the city, and moved there to begin work.
Serpico opened his eponymous restaurant on South Street in Philadelphia in the summer of 2013, and he has received critical acclaim from outlets ranging from Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure to The Washington Post and a glowing “Three Bell” review from The Philadelphia Inquirer.