ATOP BOK: A Night in the Clouds

Filed under: Entertainment,Featured News,Latest News,South Philadelphia |

By Eldon Graham

UP ON THE ROOF, an East Passyunk celebration held at the recently opened Bok Bar. The evening was glistening with the sights of the beautiful views, fun-loving people, and food as well as the sounds of vibrant enthusiasm. Photo by Eldon Graham

UP ON THE ROOF, an East Passyunk celebration held at the recently opened Bok Bar. The evening was glistening with the sights of the beautiful views, fun-loving people, and food as well as the sounds of vibrant enthusiasm. Photo by Eldon Graham

In the heart of South Philadelphia, there lies an oasis, almost hidden in the clouds.

The rooftop of the South Philadelphia landmark once known as Edward W. Bok Technical High School has been transformed into the panoramic Bok Bar.

Monday, the bar hosted a well-attended event called “Up on the Roof,” where guests got to experience the sights and tastes of East Passyunk’s most popular and acclaimed restaurants. The event brought together 19 different chefs from the area to allow a sampling of the wide array of East Passyunk flavors.

THE FOOD of the avenue, cooked by 19 different chefs and restaurants, was a well apparent highlight of the evening. Those sampling the food talked nonstop about how delicious the hors d'oeuvres were as well as the signature dishes. Photo by Eldon Graham

THE FOOD of the avenue, cooked by 19 different chefs and restaurants, was a well apparent highlight of the evening. Those sampling the food talked nonstop about how delicious the hors d’oeuvres were as well as the signature dishes. Photo by Eldon Graham

Emma Rutherford, co-founder of Scout-UK and design director of Scout-US and Kristin Vessio, operations manager for Scout-US.

Emma Rutherford, co-founder of Scout-UK and design director of Scout-US and
Kristin Vessio, operations manager for Scout-US.

Attendees came not only for the view but also for spectacular food. “We love food,” said Ryan Cason and Katie Clemm, a couple who were drawn by an advertisement on Facebook. Other guests enthused over the sights and sounds as the roof lights illuminated the night sky around them. The beautiful Center City skyline view was a luxurious bonus on top of the delicious variety of dishes on display.

Emma Rutherford, co-founder of Scout-UK and design director of Scout-US, one of the sponsors of Up on the Roof, spoke about the extravagance of bringing so many different culinary experts together for a night of fun and fashion. “There are so many amazing chefs in East Passyunk,” Rutherford said. “East Passyunk is our local food center, so we were really excited to invite all the people who normally only get to try one in an evening — if they’re lucky — to one place and to sample something from all of them at the same time.”

Kristin Vessio, operations manager for Scout-US and also responsible for aspects of the event, spoke about how the chefs went a little out-of-the-box with their choices. “It was a great opportunity for all the chefs here to kind of feature a dish that isn’t on their regular menu or roster and be a little bit experimental” she said.

Choosing to bring in local chefs was a no-brainer for the bar. “We are lucky to have in such a short distance a really concentrated amount of highly talented culinary expertise,” Vessio continued. “It’s a really great experience for people who live in the neighborhood or beyond the neighborhood,” an opportunity to “highlight the diversity, the types of cuisines along the Avenue. They gave that to us, we didn’t necessarily curate that.”

Rutherford and Vessio were both excited to host and to taste the preparations, particularly the whole roasted stuffed pig cooked by Chef Tod “Townsend” Wentz.

Wentz stuffs the pig with forcemeat and the trimmed and brined loins, then stitches the whole thing back up. The suckling pig then takes 10 hours after he stuffs it to cook. Many in attendance gladly tried a delectable piece of pork.

WHAT A HAM! This Whole Roasted Stuffed Pig cooked by chef “Tod Townsend” Wentz was the life of the party and all anyone was talking about. Photo by Eldon Graham

WHAT A HAM! This Whole Roasted Stuffed Pig cooked by chef “Tod Townsend” Wentz was the life of the party and all anyone was talking about. Photo by Eldon Graham

Other restaurant dishes included Mamma Maria Ristorante with her sausage and peppers, Laurel’s pumpkin-foie gras-pecan tart, and Vanilya Bakery with its signature dessert dishes. Bing Bing Dim Sum, Birra, Brigantessa, Cantina los Caballitos, Chhaya, Fond, Izumi, Le Virtù, Noir, Noord, Paradiso, Perla, Ristorante Tre Scalini, Sate Kampar and Will BYOB also participated.

Bing Bing Dim Sum’s Chefs Shawn Darragh and Ben Puchowitz were also on display giving the neighborhood residents a sample of their Crispy Rice Tots with Beef Tartare. Both were happy to be part of the festivities. Darragh said of the atmosphere, “It’s good. You can’t beat the view.”

“The whole Avenue is here,” said Puchowitz. “We are getting some money together for [the East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association],” he explained.
EPCCA spans from Broad Street to 6th, Tasker to Snyder. It aims to provide a forum for the neighborhood to have a voice and visibility in how the community develops, something that Scout is glad to be part of.

The civic association wants to bring people together who have an interest in improving the quality of life in our public spaces, while celebrating the diverse and vibrant character of the neighborhood.

The spotlight did not solely fall on the dishes of delectable food. It also belonged to a fashion show.

THESE STUNNING models know how to pose as well as strut across a runway. Wearing the fabulous fashions from the East Passyunk shops and boutiques were, from left, Holly Patterson, Krystle Griffin and Katy Ochoa. Photo by Eldon Graham

THESE STUNNING models know how to pose as well as strut across a runway. Wearing the fabulous fashions from the East Passyunk shops and boutiques were, from left, Holly Patterson, Krystle Griffin and Katy Ochoa. Photo by Eldon Graham

Each piece of clothing the models wore was from the shops along the avenue. Most of the outfits showcased fall looks from East Passyunk’s independently owned boutiques, many of them made right on E. Passyunk Avenue. Nicole Rae Styer Boutique, Occasionette, Palo Santo Wellness Boutique, ReUp Philly and Sermania Jewelry were some of the shops that lent their clothing to the fashion show and were on display.
Walking the runway to the pulsating music, the models ignited the evening’s atmosphere even more. Their strutting wowed the crowd.

Models of the evening walking the runway atop the Bok Bar.

Models of the evening walking the runway atop the Bok Bar.

One of the models of the night, Katy Ochoa, acknowledged this is not her day job. Ochoa, who is actually an actress, described modeling for the first time as “a little different” but was nonetheless overjoyed to be part of the talented group of models.

The night ended with a raffle filled with items from the E. Passyunk Avenue shops including Lucidi Salon & Jewelry, Meister’s Barbershop, Mia Philadelphia, Carolyn Verdi Boutique and Escape the 1980s Adventure Room.

All of this was possible due to Bok Bar owner Lindsey Scannapieco, who purchased the Bok School in 2014. Since then, the building has turned into a community place filled to the brim with opportunity upon opportunity. Scannapieco is a native Philadelphian who grew up with a real-estate background, thanks to her father, and is making a name for herself with her innovative projects.

She bought the building, she says, to keep the community intact instead of knocking it down and further pushing gentrification, as is happening in other parts of South Philly. Currently the nearly 26,000 square feet within the building is filled with jewelers, architects, furniture makers, fashion designers, milliners, product designers, artists, charitable organizations, a day care and even a local boxing club in the previously empty classrooms.

Nearly 80% of the current set of tenants are residents of South Philadelphians. The building, once an educational haven, is now a creative anchor for the neighborhood and the city.

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