Chef Walter Staib
A third generation restaurateur with over four decades of culinary experience, Staib began his career in Europe. He received formal training in many of Europe’s finest hotels & restaurants before coming to the United States.
As founder and President of Concepts By Staib, Ltd. (est. 1989), a globally operating restaurant management and hospitality consulting firm, Walter Staib is currently the driving force behind one of the nation’s most unique dining establishments: Philadelphia’s City Tavern (independent), a faithful recreation of an original 18th century tavern and Concepts By Staib, Ltd.’s flagship operation.
In addition to being a top chef, restaurateur and consultant, Chef Staib has also authored four cookbooks, City Tavern Cookbook (1999), City Tavern Baking & Dessert Cookbook (2003), Black Forest Cuisine (2006, and City Tavern: Recipes from the Birthplace of American Cuisine (2009). His first children’s book, published in May 2010 is A Feast of Freedom , a children’s book that tells the story of City Tavern and it’s important role in shaping the nation. Walter Staib has made numerous appearances on local and national cooking shows, such as The Food Network’s ‘ Cooking Live with Sara Moulton,’ and CBS ’ ‘Chef on a Shoestring,’ & ‘ The Chef’s Kitchen.
Currently, he can be see on PBS bringing the 18th century to life on ‘A Taste of History’ based on his fourth cookbook which explores America’s culinary beginnings through the lens of the venerable City Tavern. In 2010, ‘A Taste of History’ was awarded two Emmy awards. The show airs nationally on PBS and its affiliates. In January 2008, Chef Staib’s cooking television cooking show, ‘World Cuisine of the Black Forest’, filmed on location in Germany and the United States, debuted on Comcast’s CN8 and received two Emmy Award nominations in August 2008.
His passion for culinary excellence has earned him numerous awards—among them the prestigious Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole de la République Française. In 1996, was also appointed the First Culinary Ambassador to the City of Philadelphia. In July, 2006, he was named Culinary Ambassador to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. German President Dr. Horst Köhler conferred the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany upon Staib in May, 2007.
Among Walter Staib’s most recent awards are Culinary Ambassador to Deborah Heart & Lung Center. In 2010, he was a nominee for the Silver Plate Award and awarded semi-finalist to the American Culinary Federation Chef of the Year Award. In 2009, he received Entrée of the Year byPhiladelphia Magazine, the 2008 Award of Leadership & Service from the German- American Chamber of Commerce, Inc., the 2007 National Restaurant Association Keystone Humanitarian Award (Pennsylvania) and the 2006 Seven Stars & Stripes Award for Excellence in Hospitality.
West Indies Pepperpot Soup
From City Tavern: Recipes from the Birthplace of American Cuisine, ©2009 by Walter Staib
During the long winter at Valley Forge, George Washington instructed his cook to make this soup to nourish and warm his starving, freezing troops. Though this West Indian dish may seem out of place in colonial American life, it was in fact quite common in and around Philadelphia, the last stop for ships traveling the Southern Trade Route. English ships returning from the islands transported slaves and exotic foodstuffs, so West Indian cookery found its way into the very fabric of Philadelphia life. It is assumed that Washington was familiar with pepperpot soup long before he camped at Valley Forge. During his only trip abroad in 1751, Washington visited his brother Lawrence in Barbados, where he enjoyed Cohobblopot, a version of pepperpot soup made with okra. The recipe below is the grandfather to the more widely recognized Philadelphia Pepperpot Soup, and is made from an authentic West Indian recipe more than 300 years old.
3/4 pound salt-cured pork shoulder, diced (see Chef’s Note)
3/4 pound salt-cured beef shoulder, diced (see Chef’s Note)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 habañero pepper, seeded and chopped (see Chef’s Note)
1 cup chopped scallions
1 pound taro root, peeled and diced
1 gallon Beef Stock (page 00)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon freshly ground allspice (see Chef’s Note)
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more
1 pound callaloo or collard greens, rinsed and chopped (see Chef’s Note)
In a large stockpot, sauté the pork and beef in the oil over high heat for 10 minutes, until brown.
Add the onion, garlic, and habañero pepper, and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the scallions and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the taro root and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes more, until translucent. Add the stock, bay leaves, thyme, allspice, and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 30 minutes, until the meat and taro root are tender.
Stir in the callaloo. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the callaloo is wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve in a tureen or divide among individual soup bowls. Serve with Sweet Potato Biscuits, if desired.
To salt-cure pork and beef shoulder, choose meat that appears well-marbled, then rub with coarse (kosher) salt and refrigerate for at least three days. Wash the salt off the meat before cooking as directed.
The heat factor of peppers is measured by Scoville heat units. A jalapeño has 80,000 Scoville heat units while habañeros from Jamaica or Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula have been found to have 550,000 Scoville heat units. Always wear rubber gloves when handling this fiery pepper.
The allspice must be freshly ground, or the flavor will be compromised.
The only substitution you can make in this recipe and still achieve the intended flavor is to use collard greens instead of callaloo, the leafy top of the taro root.