Nature’s Bounty: Chef, Wild Farmer & James Beard Nominee Phil Manganaro

by Mike Ham

Nestled in the charming town of Merchantville, New Jersey, lies Park Place Cafe and Restaurant, a culinary gem that’s redefining the dining experience with its innovative use of locally foraged ingredients. However, it was amidst the tranquil woods of Camp Creek Run in Marlton, New Jersey, where I recently had the pleasure of delving into the culinary philosophy of Chef Phil Manganaro. This picturesque setting served as the perfect backdrop for an enlightening conversation that unraveled Chef Phil’s remarkable journey into the world of wild ingredients and sustainable cuisine.

Phil’s culinary journey began amidst the hustle and bustle of New York City, where he honed his skills and refined his palate. However, it was his return to his South Jersey roots that ignited a profound culinary awakening within him. Surrounded by the lush landscapes of Merchantville, Phil found inspiration in the untamed beauty of the region, setting the stage for his culinary exploration.

At the heart of Phil’s culinary philosophy lies a deep reverence for nature and a steadfast commitment to sustainability. Drawing from his childhood adventures in the woods, Phil has embraced the art of foraging, sourcing pristine wild ingredients that elevate his dishes to unparalleled heights. From delicate woodland herbs to robust mushrooms, each ingredient tells a story of the Garden State’s rich biodiversity, inviting diners to embark on a sensory journey through the flavors of the forest.

Despite the challenges inherent in running a small-scale restaurant, Phil’s unwavering dedication to his craft has not gone unnoticed. His innovative approach to cooking has earned him accolades, including a prestigious James Beard nomination—a testament to his visionary spirit and culinary prowess.

During our conversation, Phil shared insights into his upcoming documentary, “The King of Matsutake Ridge,” which offers a poignant glimpse into his life as a chef and forager. Through this film, Phil hopes to inspire others to reconnect with nature and embrace the wild beauty of the wilderness.

Photo via NJ Digest

While our conversation took place amidst the tranquil surroundings of Camp Creek Run in Marlton, Park Place Cafe in Merchantville stands as a beacon of Phil’s culinary vision. Here, guests can savor a gastronomic experience unlike any other, where each dish celebrates the abundance of nature in its purest form.

In a world where culinary trends come and go, Phil Manganaro’s steadfast commitment to sustainable, locally sourced ingredients serves as a testament to the enduring allure of nature’s bounty. Through his innovative approach to cooking, Phil invites us to rediscover the timeless pleasures of dining amidst the splendor of the great outdoors.


About the Author/s

All posts

Mike Ham is the voice behind the popular podcast, "Greetings From the Garden State". Traveling up and down New Jersey, Mike brings his listeners the stories of the people and places shaping the Garden State. Not only is he a Jersey diehard, he is also a respected member of the podcast community and has spoken at several podcasting conferences. As he continues to amplify the voices of New Jersey, Mike Ham remains a passionate advocate for the diverse narratives woven into the fabric of the Garden State.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment

Yes, I would like to receive emails from The Digest Online. Sign me up!

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: New Jersey Digest. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact