PHeaSt Preview: Chef Lila Colello Brulee Bakery

PHS takes you behind-the-scenes of PHeaSt – where Philly tastemakers and growers unite for a most ‘delicious party’ and unique farm-to-table experience supporting City Harvest.

Chef Lila Colello of Brulee Bakery in Havertown, PA, is one of many of this year’s truly exceptional PHeaSt chefs. The classic French pastry chef has made a career working for the likes of Buddakan, Fork, Parc and the Ritz Carlton, then working for a time on the catering side with Wolfgang Puck Catering the Kimmel Center; Chef Lila also for the Food Network as a part of their culinary production team for Irion Chef America, before embarking on her own culinary vision as a business owner.

Chef Lila’s history with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society – and that of PHeaSt – is not at all expected, and in many ways came to fruition through one of the greatest challenges of her career and personal life.

PHS is thrilled to share an outtake from one of our ‘pre-PHeaSt’ conversations with Chef Lila:

PHS: Chef, can you please share with us a little bit on your history as a chef and business owner with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society?

CHEF LILA: After a car accident deemed me unable to perform the duties that the ‘restaurant life’ required, I decided to go out on my own and start my business. Two years after, I was hit with another challenge: being diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I was a French Pastry Chef unable to work with wheat flour anymore. I took this negative and made it a positive. I re-formulated my classic French pastry recipes to gluten free ones, and re-branded as a Gluten Free French Custom Bakery.

PHS: PHeaSt is a fundraising event at its heart, as you know, benefiting City Harvest; in addition to supporting this ‘sustainable organization’ in particular at PHeaSt– how does Brulee Bakery practice as a green  kitchen day-to-day?

CHEF LILA: In our kitchen on a daily basis, we try to be as green as possible: We only bake to order, meaning that we do not have any wasted food or ingredients; we compost, recycle and use compostable packaging for our items that are on store shelves – and we invoice via email in order to cut down on paper waste.

PHS: PHeaSt participants are asked to select produce harvested from local growers all over Philadelphia: did any produce stand out and excite you in particular be it seasonal or unique?

CHEF LILA: I was so excited to see butternut squash and sweet potatoes on the list! These were items that I knew I could turn into a sweet dish with a unique application…something that you wouldn’t expect to see in a French Macaron or as a cream puff filling.

PHS: Can you spill any details about ‘top-secret’ or one-of-a-kind surprising ingredients that Brulee Bakery will be using for PHeaSt?

CHEF LILA: We will be using rosemary in a unique way in the filling for the French Macarons.

PHS: Do you have any tried and true techniques and advice you can lend to PHeaSt guests?

CHEF LILA: I find myself needing blueberries and apples pretty much all year long, and since we do our best to use as much local as possible, we tend to stock up on both during their respective growing seasons.

As soon as apple season is in full swing we ask the farmers for a bushel of SECONDS (because when using apples for baking, they don’t have to look beautiful and seconds are much more affordable). Apples keep for months in the fridge, so if you have some extra room (or in our case, a whole extra fridge)…we buy the apples at the height of the season and have them on hand til spring! The same goes for blueberries, but in their case, we buy a ton at the very end of the season and freeze them.

PHS: What is the one baking or cooking ingredient every home cook should be growing in their garden?

CHEF LILA: I would say the one ingredient that everyone should grow and keep on hand at all times is Rosemary…it can be used for so many savory and sweet applications (from chicken dishes, to shortbread to salad dressings…). It’s also a fairly hardy plant and can be grown in a pot inside during the winter.

PHS: Do any food trends in particular stand-out at Brulee bakery in the Fall/Winter culinary season?

CHEF LILA: I think Pumpkin Spice is not only a trend but a CRAZE during the autumn months. We have to do pumpkin related things in our bakery because it’s what people want…but we try to put our own spin on it to heighten the experience a bit (much like the pumpkin mascarpone cream puffs that we will be featuring at PHeaSt).

PHS: Finally, What is the one autumnal baking ingredient you absolutely cannot live without?

CHEF LILA: The one autumnal ingredient that I cannot live without is cinnamon…it seems to find its way into everything.

Please join us at the Navy Yard for a wonderful tribute to the growers who provide healthy produce to so many in need in Philadelphia. PHeaSt opens at 7 p.m and is a wonderful, fun event that serves a very important purpose.

If you are unable to attend PHeaSt, please consider making a donation to support the PHS City Harvest program here.

Tickets will also be on sale tonight at PHeaSt and are tax-deductible.

A PHeaSt to Remember: Watch the Highlight Video and Download the Recipes

What a night it was! The first PHeaSt was a great success, and we couldn’t be more thankful to our chefs, growers, sponsors, and guests who all joined together to benefit PHS City Harvest. If you want to relive some of the evening (or wish you could have been there), take a look at the wrap-up video.

We’re lucky enough to have procured the recipes for many of the dishes served at PHeaSt including…

  • Roast Pork Loin, Autumn Panzanella Salad with Orange Agrodolce
  • Stinging Nettle Crostini topped with Lomo, Pickled Roasted Peppers, and Ricotta
  • Heirloom Cauliflower Kabobs with Sage and Anchovy Goddess Dressing
  • Braised Short Ribs with Spiced Pumpkin and Wild Mushroom Goat Cheese Cheesecake

Click here to download the recipes. Check in on the PHS Facebook page and let us know what you recreated!

Tree Talk: Peachy Symbolism and a Tree Sale Reminder

Our featured tree this week is the peach, Prunus persica. There’s nothing better than eating fresh fruit picked right off the tree. Recently I bought a basket of peaches from a commercial grocery-store in South Philly. Biting into the fruit, my cheeks pursed inward from the sour taste of the dry and rubbery fruit. Blech!

Spring peach blossom

If only I could grow my own peaches. Oh wait, I can! PHS is offering several fruit trees during this year’s fall sale, including peaches, apricots, and pawpaws.  A number of ornamental flowering trees and canopy trees are also available.Visit for detailed information about each tree. The deadline to order is this Friday, September 7. Pick up takes place at the PHS Fall Garden Festival on Sept. 22.

The trees you plant this fall could start fruiting as early as next summer, or the following. Fresh cobbler, jam, and ice cream are just a few ways to incorporate peaches into cooking. Even its pink flowers can add a pretty edible garnish to cuisine.

A Haven of Peace and Happiness

Cultivated since pre-biblical times, the peach has a rich history. The scientific name, Prunus persica, is partially a misnomer; although Europeans first found peaches in Persia, they were brought into the Middle East even earlier by way of the old Silk Road from China.The symbolism associated with the fruit varies across cultures; in China it is associated with life, death, fertility, and youth.  The Chinese tale, The Peach Blossom Spring, depicts a fisherman’s chance discovery upon a utopia, hidden at the end of a peach blossom forest, where people lived happily in peace and perfect harmony with nature.

In the western world peaches are linked to sincerity. The fruit of the peach represents the heart in Renaissance art, and its leaf, the tongue. Images of a peach with an attached leaf symbolize speaking directly from the heart. On that note, thank you Janet Evans, our McLean librarian, for helping to direct me to all this information.

Peach and blueberry pie

This wonderful fruit tree could make a symbolic gesture in the landscape, and a perfect gift for a loved-one. In the literal world, it is simply delicious.  Try growing your own peaches by purchasing one through the PHS Tree Sale.

Stop by the Fall Garden Festival to pick up your tree and say hi to me and the rest of the tree team!

Eat In with Home-Grown Ingredients

In addition to offering gardening resources, this post highlights a valued Green Scene advertiser.

Interested in edible gardening? Check out this excerpt from The Kitchen Garden, a blog about gardens that feed the soul as well as the stomach.

By Jennifer Bartley

“I love to eat out. Who doesn’t? But really, what I can gather from my own garden is easier, better and cheaper. It’s probably faster, too.

So in some kind of weird self-imposed contest – Iron Chef meets my frugal grandmother living on the farm – I challenged myself to serve lunch with only the ingredients on hand. Impromptu – no running out to Kroger allowed. I had to use whatever I had in my sparse cupboards and garden, today, this minute. The garden would dictate this lunch where guests would be sitting at my table in less than two hours.

Based on a walk out to the garden, I decided to make Tabbouleh, green beans with lime and whole wheat pizza with basil, tomatoes, garlic and cheese. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any bulgur wheat on hand for the Tabbouleh, but I did have some pearled barley, which I substituted for the wheat. I cooked it up then chilled it along with fresh chopped onions, peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, flat leafed parsley and cutting celery leaves tossed with lime juice and olive oil….”

Find out how the meal turned out and learn more about how you can start a kitchen garden at, and remember that a great edible garden starts with the right nourishment. Give your plants and vegetables what they need with Osmoscote® Flower & Vegetable Plant Food. Osmocote adjusts to changing soil temperature and feeds plants continuously for up to four full months. It’s guaranteed not to burn or wash away, and that’s why passionate gardeners have trusted Osmocote for more than 40 years.

Lobster Gazpacho Recipe from the PHS Pops Up Garden

Arguably more refreshing than a large lemon water-ice, this lobster gazpacho from Sampan is a perfect summer treat. Thanks to PHS’s new partnership with area restaurants, you can try making it at home. Big thanks to chef Khamla Vongsakoun for sharing this delish dish with us. If your culinary efforts end up more “whoops” than “wow,” dine at Sampan and enjoy the great food and awesome ambiance.

Lobster Gazpacho

1 ea., Cucumbers
1 ea. , Red Bell Peppers
6 ea., Tomato 6×6
2 tbsp., Ginger
1 ea., Finger Chili
1 tsp., Rice Wine Vinegar
1 tsp., Sherry Vinegar
6 leaves, Thai Basil
1 tbsp., Togarashi
Kosher Salt to taste
3 oz., Lobster Meat, cooked

Place all ingredients, except lobster, in a blender and puree at high speed until a smooth consistency is achieved. Add lobster. Season accordingly to have a well-balanced flavor with the sweetness of lobster, acid and spice.

Veggie Lasagna Recipe from the Pops Up Garden

Fresh and fierce are two of many words that come to mind when gazing at this mouthwatering vegetable lasagna. And thanks to PHS’s new partnership with area restaurants, you can try making it at home. This recipe comes from Chef Guillermo Tellez, the culinary wizard at Square 1682 restaurant.

Square 1682 is one of six restaurants involved with the Pops Up Garden. As the garden grows, these chefs will incorporate its veggies and herbs in special dishes, and a portion of the proceeds will support PHS’s greening efforts. Also supporting this effort are Center City District and GPTMC Philly Homegrown, both of which understand the importance of local, fresh food.

If you attempt this recipe, let us know. Email your experience to

Vegetable Lasagna

Yield; one 9×9 baking dish


  • 6 portobello mushrooms, gills and steams removed, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 12 roasted red bell peppers, skins and seeds remove
  • 12 roasted yellow bell peppers, skins and seeds removed
  • 10 zucchini sliced ¼ in thick lengthwise, roasted
  • 10 yellow squash sliced ¼ in thick lengthwise, roasted
  • 1 quart Indian tomato chutney (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup brown butter
  • 1/4-cup aged balsamic
  • 1 head of frizze lettuce, clean green removed
  • 1 cup toasted hazelnuts, crushed
  • 2 cups olive oil, to roast the vegetables
  • 2 cups balsamic, to roast the vegetables
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup mixed chopped herbs


To roast the vegetables:

  1. Brush the vegetables with olive oil and balsamic. Salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Place vegetables on parchment lined sheet pan, roast at 350°F for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool.
  3. Line a 9×9 baking dish, brush soft butter on the inside of the dish. Starting with the red peppers, place the bottom layer, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle chopped herbs. Place the zucchini on top of the red bell peppers, season, continue to layer all the vegetables placing the portabella mushroom as the middle layer until all vegetables are used. It will be an inch higher than the rim, which is OK as it will go down as it bakes.
  4. Place in the oven and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, transfer to the refrigerator and press with another pan on top, cool overnight.

For the brown butter balsamic:

  1. In a small pot, place 1 pound of butter. Cook until turns brown and smells like hazelnuts; you’ll notice black specks on top.
  2. Let sit for a few minutes, add the ¼-cup of balsamic and season to taste. Keep warm.

To plate:

  1. Cut the lasagna to a desired size, place in the oven at 350°F to heat, about 8 minutes.
  2. Spoon warm tomato chutney on plate, place the lasagna on the sauce, garnish with a small bunch of freeze.
  3. Drizzle with brown butter balsamic, sprinkle some hazelnuts to finish.

For the Indian tomato chutney recipe, follow the jump. Continue reading