6 Questions with Jeffrey Power, Executive Chef of Dettera Restaurant & Wine Bar
We sit down with Ambler's acclaimed farm-to-table chef, and find out what it is that makes his dishes so good—and good for you.
Jeffrey Power//Photo by Courtney Apple
Since joining the Dettera Restaurant & Wine Bar team in 2010, executive chef Jeffrey Power has captivated palates with thought-provoking compositions built with a bounty of exceptional, sustainable ingredients. Acclaimed for accenting dishes with inventive spins, from twists like Kaffir lime granita topping raw oysters, to truffle vinaigrette on tuna tartare and miso-accented barramundi, we’ve come to adore what the chef continuously has in store.
Following a recent visit to his restaurant, where we devoured hand-cut pasta ribbons loaded with braised duck leg, roasted cauliflower steak crowning toasted farro and ultra-rich salted caramel pots de creme, we couldn’t help but tap Power for an interview. Below, uncover his culinary history (including an unforgettable stint at Le Bec Fin), how he’s been farm-to-table before those buzz words were cool, why he recently contemparorized his bar menu, and even, which restaurants he likes to grab a seat at.
Main Course: You’ve been rocking the Dettera kitchen for five years. How has the food scene in Ambler progressed since you became a part of it?
Jeffrey Power: The Ambler food scene has progressed a lot since 2010. We have seen a huge growth just in the past few years. Many new restaurants have opened. It’s a pretty diverse food scene now.
Since graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 2001, you’ve flexed your culinary talents in many notable Philadelphia area restaurants, including Le Bec Fin, Blackfish and Striped Bass. What stands out the most from these kitchen stints?
Yes, I’ve worked at some great places, but Le Bec Fin is by far the stand-out. There was so much energy and passion in that kitchen, we all had the same goal to make the best food and do it with pride. That never left me and I teach that same mentality in my kitchen.
DETERRA RAVIOLI//PHOTO BY DALLYN PAVEY
You’ve been a proponent of the sourced-locally, sustainable movement since well before folks were buzzing about it. Even better, you make use of an on-site organic garden during warmer months. How do you define your ongoing culinary program beyond this local angle?
We do buy as much local product as possible and we feel it makes a big impact on our finished product. Beyond that, all of our dishes start with the produce first, and we build on them. My philosophy is simple—all of our meats are all-natural, meaning no growth hormones or antibiotics ever. We follow the migratory patterns of fish along the East Coast, so we are buying the fish that are being caught just a few hours from here. Our vegetables are our pride—we only use seasonal produce and we try very hard to buy local. Last, we make it all here—the bread, the pasta, the gelato, the sorbet; all of it is made from-scratch in our kitchen.
During my recent visit, I was really inspired by the whimsical touches to your dishes. Could you reveal a dish on your current menu that is representative of your cooking style and, moreover, Dettera?
My tuna tartare is a clear representation of my cooking style and Dettera—it touches on both classic and modern techniques. The tuna tartare has been around for many years, but the way we garnish with the soft-poached egg that is cooked sous-vide makes it perfect every time.
DETErRA BURGER//PHOTO by Dallyn pavey
You recently gave Dettera’s bar menu a facelift, incorporating a more casual collection of options—though all still rich in flavor and creativity. Can you share why you decided to go this direction with it?
The facelift that the bar menu got was simply due to the fact that we have a diverse audience and we want to accommodate everyone. However, we want to do it with style and creativity. It’s a trend that is starting to spill over into the dining room menu, as well. We want to have high-quality food but we never want to be pretentious, so were creating straight-forward cuisine with bold flavors.
Wild card: On your rare night(s) off, which local restaurants or bars are you currently loving?
There are many places that I like to go. We often go to the city; we love Will BYOB and Bibou is amazing! But, most of the time it’s a family affair—my wife and I have three young children—so we hit Bluefin in East Norriton or Wegmans’ Pub so they can be loud and we don’t get asked to leave!
Find Executive Chef Jeffrey Powers in the kitchen at Dettera Restaurant & Wine Bar at 129 E. Butler Ave., Ambler, (215) 643-0111, www.dettera.com.