by Jacqueline Rupp
The Night Kitchen Bakery & Café, 7725 Germantown Ave., has long been one of the neighborhood’s favorite spots for cake creations and dessert artistry. But there’s a whole lot more to the bakery than just cake flour and fondant.
It’s been over 14 years since Amy Beth Edelman, 46, formerly a chef at Pollo Rosso in the Chestnut Hill Hotel, opened the bakery, and three years since she and her team expanded to include a cafe and lunch menu. Visiting the shop recently, it’s easy to see what a bustling fixture the open and airy bistrostyle cafe has become.
“Night Kitchen’s Cafe is great if someone needs to grab a quick bite from our take out case or if they have time to sit down for a more leisurely meal,” said Edelman. “Now that spring is in the air, the outdoor seating is very popular, especially for people with pups! The decorating staff loves to ogle all the dogs that stop by.”
We stopped by recently for lunch and were greeted by Edelman and her young staff of bakers and pastry chefs. The menu, which consists of quiche, frittata, soups, salads and sandwiches, is available both for dinein or takeout. One glance and it’s obvious that locallysourced ingredients are the centerpiece of this menu. “It happens that many of these ingredients, like Shellbark Hollow goat cheese and D’Artagnan bacon are exceptionally delicious,” says Edelman. “The fact that they are produced nearby, therefore reducing their travel time and carbon footprint, is a bonus! Local is often better because it means independent farmers can keep more of their revenues, and the income stays in the community.”
Our first dish to sample was the Veggie Sandwich, a warm portobello mushroom, baby spinach and smoked Gouda combination with sundried tomato spread on a complementing multigrain Ciabattini. Thankfully, we took them up on the addition of smoked chicken breast because it is amazing. Served with a mixed green side salad (or the option of a side of fruit), the sandwich is a definite meal in itself! At $10.75, it’s not only comparable to what other cafe lunches might run, but it may offer you a takehome dinner or tomorrow’s lunch as well.
Of course no stop to the Night Kitchen is complete without at least one dessert. We may have overindulged by sampling slightly more than that, however. From the salted caramel shortbread squares to the rich chocolate pudding, there were no shortage of ‘mmm’s’ around the table. “We are working on adding more glutenfree options,” said Edelman.
Recently, Night Kitchen has partnered with local mobilephenom Zsa’s Ice Cream and Tradestone Confections, based in Chestnut Hill and Conshohocken, respectively, but much of Edelman’s time outside the kitchen involves her role as president of the GReen IN Chestnut Hill (GRinCH) program, an environmental organization she cofounded five years ago.
The organization currently is looking to give away some of the funds it has raised to deserving area causes. One way that’s happening is through their Green Warrior Student Grants, which are open to students in the 19118 zip code. Students can apply for grants of up to $500 for greening projects at their school. Interested students should contact Noreen Spota at email@example.com.
“GRinCH is also hosting its EWaste event,” said Edelman, “aka Weird Waste Day, at Norwood Fontbonne Academy on Saturday, May 3, 14 p.m. More information will be available at GreenInChestnutHill.blogspot.com.” Edelman adds that the group will also be organizing the Eco Alley at the Garden Festival on Sunday, May 4, which is slated to include live music, kiddie yoga and a book FreeCycle.
Going green isn’t just a parttime cause for Edelman; it’s been her recipe for success. Green improvements can be seen throughout the shop, from eliminating styrofoam and plastic bags to installing lowflow water valves and a rain collection barrel for the garden. Edelman says she’s been interested in environmental issues ever since she watched the original Dr. Seuss “Lorax” film as a kid.
“I realized a few years ago that as a business owner, I could do more by implementing better business practices. I turned to the Green Restaurant Association to assist us. We reduced our waste by composting, recycling and reducing our energy consumption. We let our customers know what steps we have taken, and the feedback has been very positive!”
Beyond her business and activism, in the past few years Edelman has expanded her family, adopting her daughter, Izzy, 6, with husband, John Millard, three years ago from Guatemala. “I have prioritized something other than work for the first time in my adult life!” said Edelman. “I know it sounds cliché, but it really is tough to balance being a mom, working and GRinCH activities! I try to hire people at the bakery who are smart, dedicated and more talented than I.”
And their daughter may be the next to join the kitchen, as Izzy currently aspires to follow mom’s lead and become a baker. “For now, her specialty in the kitchen is chocolate chip pancakes!” Edelman said with a smile.
This Chestnut Hill family can be seen enjoying all the area has to offer. They are big fans of the Morris Arboretum and regularly attend the Kids Corner Summer Concert series. You can find Edelman and her daughter frequenting the Treehouse Cafe as well. “We are also looking forward to The Fareway’s fire pit at the Chestnut Hill Hotel on cool nights. Feeding the ducks at Valley Green Inn is a childhood favorite of mine…
“I joke that when we expanded and added the lunch menu, take out foods and specialty drinks, we made the business just about as complicated as is humanly possible! But we do have just about everything that will make customers happy.”
More information about Night Kitchen at 215-248-9235 or www.nightkitchenbakery.com.