Noord, an East Passyunk BYO serving Nordic cuisine. A native Philadelphian, the chef is returning home from Chicago, where he runs the popular New American restaurant HB Home Bistro. We caught up with the chef via telephone to learn a bit more about him (he’s a globetrotter who’s been to more than 33 countries) and find out what to expect from the new spot. Read on for details.
Zagat: What brings you to Philadelphia?
Joncarl Lachman: This is my home, where I grew up, and I’ve always planned to return. The food scene here is amazing right now, but that’s definitely not why I’m here - I’m coming back because I love Philadelphia. I was so, so ready to leave when I left, but underneath everything Philly’s always been in my heart.
The scene here is really unpretentious, in a time when pretense is everywhere in this industry. I used to say Philly was undiscovered, but it’s really starting to blow up now. So many amazing people are coming, I almost wish I’d returned earlier, so I wouldn’t just be lumped in with the trend.
Zagat: What did you do after you left Philadelphia?
JL: I actually went to college for linguistics and history, and then, after some time as a server at really top-notch restaurants, I made it my goal to visit 30 countries. I made it to 33! I’ve been to Iceland 15 times, where I ate puffin and whale. I lived in England for a couple years. Other notable stops on my world tour were Sweden, Australia, Argentina, Poland, Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore and Germany.
Zagat: Then you ended up in Chicago?
JL: I cooked in NYC with Ann Rosenzweig and in DC with Nora Pouillon. Around 2002 I moved to Columbus, OH, but I couldn’t handle living there after the big city. I found my way to Chicago, where I was lucky to open Home Bistro with the Hearty Boys from the Food Network. I’m going to keep my position there, even though I’m moving to Philadelphia. I have a fantastic chef de cuisine. We’ve got a great staff in general - we have two servers who’ve been working for us since the day we opened. The restaurant is almost Philly-style; I modeled it after BYOs here.
Zagat: What will we be eating at Noord - we’ve heard you will serve Dutch cuisine?
JL: Well, it’s actually not only Dutch, but Northern European in general. I’m trying to find the best word to describe it. My ancestry is Dutch, but I don’t want to be too specific. Essentially I’ll be looking to cultures from the Alsace region north.
Look for beets, vinegar, a lot of smoked fish and rotisserie. We’re getting a smoker. On the menu we’ll have three different boards, featuring bites and salads like bluefish rillettes or smoked shrimp and egg salad on brown bread. I loved eating in Copenhagen, and will definitely feature what they call smørrebrød.
Zagat: Tell us your plans for the decor.
JL: I’m going to attempt to do an open kitchen. I’ve never run one before, so it might be a challenge, but I love running around and talking to guests. There’s a Dutch term, gezelligheid - it means cozy, fun, friendly - and I always try to bring that to my restaurants. My partner at Noord, Bob Moysan, is a photographer, so we’ll be decorating the walls with his photo prints.
Zagat: When can we expect Noord to open?
JL: I'm shooting for an early April opening, but I am moving to Philly in February. I’m going to be living right above the restaurant! I’m definitely going to look into doing a few collaboration dinners or pop-ups as we work on our launch, so stay tuned for details.