Culinary Director, Partner
Culinary Director, Partner
Marc Vetri is the chef/founder of Philadelphia’s critically acclaimed Vetri Family of Restaurants. In addition to his storied career in the kitchen, Marc is also the driving force behind the Vetri Community Partnership, a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower children and families through fresh food, hands-on experiences and education.
A Philadelphia native, Marc initially pursued a career in music as a guitarist before realizing his true passion came from cooking. Spending his formative professional kitchen life in Bergamo, Italy, working alongside some of the region's most noted chefs, Marc has become known the world over for bringing a bold, contemporary sensibility to classic Italian cooking. In 1998, he and business partner, Jeff Benjamin, opened the eponymous, fine-dining restaurant, Vetri, to universal acclaim. Vetri’s outstanding pastas, innovative flavor combinations and artful presentations captured imaginations and propelled Marc to the culinary forefront. Within two years of the restaurant’s debut, he was named one of Food & Wine's “Best New Chefs” and received the Philadelphia Inquirer's highest restaurant rating. In 2005, he was given the James Beard Award for "Best Chef Mid-Atlantic."
Following years of continued success at Vetri, Marc launched Osteria in 2007. Larger and more casual than Vetri, Osteria’s menu of traditional Italian thin-crust pizzas, homemade pastas and wood-grilled meats and fish quickly won over the dining public. The restaurant was nominated for “Best New Restaurant” in 2008 by the James Beard Foundation. In 2010, it helped earn Vetri Family chef/partner Jeff Michaud, the James Beard Award for "Best Chef Mid-Atlantic."
The Vetri Family’s third restaurant, Amis, opened its doors in 2010. Inspired by Rome’s neighborhood trattorias, this intimate and energetic restaurant specializes in small plates such as handcrafted pastas and house-cured meats. In November 2010, Bon Appetit named Amis one of the top “10 Places for Pasta” in the country. The opening of Amis also brought Chef Brad Spence in as a Vetri Family partner, and subsequently, he has been a two-time finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s "Best Chef Mid-Atlantic" award.
Alla Spina, the group’s Italian gastropub opened in 2012. The restaurant has been recognized by publications such as GQ and Zagat as one of the top craft beer havens in the U.S., making it a must-visit destination for beer connoisseurs of all levels. The following year saw the debut of another Vetri Family restaurant concept: Pizzeria Vetri, the group’s most casual eatery to date with two locations in Philadelphia, as well as outposts in Austin, Texas (2015) and Washington D.C. (June 2016).
In 2014, Lo Spiedo opened in Philadelphia’s up-and-coming Navy Yard district and serves a casual Italian-inspired menu with a focus on spit-roasted meats. This year will also saw the expansion of the flagship Vetri restaurant which now encompasses two floors, making it available for private events and accommodating larger parties. The new Vetri space includes a test kitchen, allowing Marc and his fellow culinary partners a place to develop and explore new dishes and menus.
Marc is the author of Il Viaggio di Vetri (Ten Speed Press, Oct. 1, 2008) a collection of more than 125 of Vetri’s most-requested dishes. His second cookbook, Rustic Italian Food (Ten Speed Press, Nov. 1, 2011), brought artisan cooking into home kitchens and was named one of the top cookbooks of 2011 by such outlets as Bon Appetit, St. Petersburg Times and The Huffington Post. He most recently released Mastering Pasta (Ten Speed Press, 2015). In addition to his cookbooks, Marc’s writing can be found on The Huffington Post where he is a regular blogger.
Outside of his restaurants, Marc is deeply passionate about giving back to the community, in particular his hometown of Philadelphia. In 2009, he and Jeff Benjamin created the Vetri Community Partnership. The organization’s signature initiative, “Eatiquette,” is a school lunch improvement program currently serving the Philadelphia and Austin areas. Culinary classroom and after-school cooking programs overseen by Vetri Community Partnership further help reinforce lessons learned in the lunchroom. Marc and his business partner Jeff Benjamin are the founders of the “Great Chefs Event,” which brings together scores of the country’s greatest chefs to raise money and awareness for the pediatric cancer charity, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.
In November 2015, Urban Outfitters Inc., a leading lifestyle specialty retail company acquired several of The Vetri Family restaurants including Amis, Osteria, Pizzeria Vetri, Alla Spina and Lo Spiedo. Following the acquisition, Marc and his partner Jeff Benjamin have begun managing URBN’s food and beverage operations as well as working with URBN to expand the Pizzeria Vetri concept nationwide.
Marc lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Megan, and their three children. He enjoys spending weekends cooking with his family, training in Brazilian jiu jitsu and playing his beloved guitars.
Jeff Benjamin was bitten by the hospitality industry bug in his junior year of high school while working weekends as a busboy at a kosher catering hall in New Hyde Park, NY. The energy and pace of working in the dining room, coupled with meeting and serving all kinds of interesting guests, truly lit a fire in Benjamin. In 1987, he enrolled at UMass-Amherst and majored in Hospitality Business, affording him the opportunity to work in various front-of-the-house positions that further solidified his chosen career path.
Following graduation, Benjamin landed in New York City with food service industry giant, Aramark. He spent the better part of the next decade managing high-level corporate employees and executive dining operations. During his time in the Big Apple, Benjamin met and became friends with Chef Marc Vetri, a Philadelphia native who was also working in the city at the time. When Vetri decided to return to Philadelphia to open his own restaurant, he enlisted Benjamin to be his general manager.
In 1998, Vetri and Benjamin opened Vetri Ristorante, an, intimate fine dining restaurant in Philadelphia’s Center City neighborhood. With Marc’s bold, contemporary Italian cuisine and Jeff’s thoughtful service style and finely curated beverage program, Vetri was an instant hit that earned universal acclaim. Within two years of its debut, Vetri received the Philadelphia Inquirer's highest restaurant rating and Jeff was made a partner and this dynamic duo has been rolling along ever since.
With Vetri and Benjamin at the helm, the Vetri Family has grown to a total of eight critically lauded restaurants— Vetri, Osteria, Amis, Alla Spina, Lo Spiedo and Pizzeria Vetri (with locations in Philadelphia, Austin, TX and Washington, D.C.). Throughout the years, Benjamin’s attention to detail has demanded that all operations standards are met and remain intact, with his vigilant eye ensuring that the signature Vetri Family philosophy and experience is always upheld for guests and employees alike.
Outside of the restaurants, Benjamin is a committed philanthropist. In 2009, he and Vetri created the Vetri Community Partnership. The organization’s signature initiative, “Eatiquette,” is a school lunch improvement program that currently serves the Philadelphia and Austin areas. Additionally, Vetri and Benjamin are the founders of the “Great Chefs Event,” which brings together scores of the country’s greatest chefs to raise money and awareness for the pediatric cancer charity, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.
In March of 2015, Benjamin published his first book, “Front of the House: Restaurant Manners, Misbehaviors & Secret,” which pulls back the curtain to depict all of the behind-the-scenes details that go into an evening out, from staff training and systems to the proper way to deal with boorish over-imbibers, guests who steal tableware, and the inevitable amateur expert aka “wannabe sommelier.”
Benjamin lives in Cherry Hill, NJ, with his wife, Melissa, and their two daughters. When he’s not working, he can be found rooting for his children’s sports team, and his beloved Phillies and 76ers.
Culinary Director, Partner
A nationally recognized chef and author, Jeff Michaud began his cooking career at the age of 13 at a pizza shop in his native New Hampshire. Inspired by his grandmother’s cooking and beautiful homemade wedding cakes, Michaud enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America and graduated in 1998.
Upon graduation, Michaud moved to Aspen, CO to join the kitchen staff at the Caribou Club where he worked his way up to Executive Sous Chef. After completing his tenure in Aspen, Michaud moved to Philadelphia to work as Sous Chef for critically acclaimed Chef Marc Vetri at his eponymous restaurant, Vetri Ristorante. Discovering his love for Italian cuisine in the Vetri kitchen, Michaud decided to move to Bergamo, Italy to further hone his skills.
While in Italy, Michaud’s first stop was Mangilli, a family-owned butcher shop in the small town of Paladina, where he refined his skills in sausage and salumi making. Over the next three years, Michaud worked his way through the top restaurants of Bergamo, including Michelin-starred Frosio, La Lucanda, La Brugheria, Ristorante Loro and Ol Fa Pasticceria. His time in Bergamo culminated with the position of Executive Chef at Locanda del Biancospino, a small inn in the foothills of the Alps.
After serving as Locanda del Bianocspino’s opening chef, Michaud returned to the United States where he took several chefs’ positions throughout New England before returning to Philadelphia to rejoin the Vetri Family and open Osteria in 2007. In 2008, The James Beard Foundation nominated Osteria for “Best New Restaurant” and in 2010, Michaud won the James Beard Award for “Best Mid-Atlantic Chef.”
In 2013, Michaud published his first cookbook, “Eating Italy: A Culinary Adventure” (Running Press, Sept. 24, 2013), that chronicled the intertwining stories of discovering his passion for Italian cuisine and falling in love with his wife, Claudia.
Outside of the kitchen, Michaud is currently a member of the Vetri Community Partnership’s Board of Directors. He is extremely committed to the foundation’s mission of empowering children and families through fresh food, hands-on culinary experiences, and food education. The organization’s signature initiative, “Eatiquette,” is a school lunch improvement program that currently services children in the Philadelphia and Austin areas.
In November 2015, Urban Outfitters Inc., a leading lifestyle specialty retail company acquired several of The Vetri Family restaurants including Amis, Osteria, Pizzeria Vetri, Alla Spina and Lo Spiedo.
Jeff lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Claudia, and their daughter. He enjoys spending weekends cooking with his family and training in Brazilian jiu jitsu.
Culinary Director, Partner
Brad Spence discovered his passion for food as a child while cooking at home with his mother, and further solidified his interest while working in small restaurant kitchens throughout high school. Upon graduation, Spence enrolled in the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. During his time at the CIA, Spence was granted the opportunity to work under Chef George Marrone at the acclaimed Fifth Floor in San Francisco, an experience that helped shape his vision and drive as a chef. Upon graduation, Spence moved to New York City where he had the privilege to work for award-winning Chef Tom Colicchio at Craftbar, and later Mario Batali at Casa Mono.
In 2006, Spence relocated to Philadelphia, taking the helm at Chef Marc Vetri’s critically acclaimed flagship restaurant Vetri Ristorante. In his first full year as Chef de Cuisine, Spence continuously honed his skills in Italian cuisine and helped construct a curing room that allowed the Vetri Family of Restaurants to offer a house-made salumi program. Shortly thereafter, Spence took an educational sabbatical to study and apprentice at Ristorante Loro and Taverna Colleoni in Bergamo, Italy.
While most of his career has been spent working in upscale restaurants, Spence has always remained enamored with rustic Italian cuisine. In 2010, Spence became the Executive Chef/Partner of Amis, allowing him the opportunity to helm a trattoria-style kitchen and pursue his culinary passion. That same year, Bon Appetit magazine named Amis one of the “Top 10 Best Places for Pasta” in the country, establishing the restaurant as not just one of Philadelphia’s top dining destinations, but a nationally acclaimed establishment.
In both 2013 and 2014, Spence was named a finalist for the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic” award.
As an integral part of the Vetri Family, Brad is one of the chef/partners in the group’s recent projects, including Lo Spiedo, Amis, Alla Spina and Pizzeria Vetri, with two locations in Philadelphia, as well as outposts in Austin, Texas and Washington D.C.
In November 2015, Urban Outfitters Inc., a leading lifestyle specialty retail company, acquired several of The Vetri Family restaurants including Amis, Osteria, Pizzeria Vetri, Alla Spina and Lo Spiedo.
A proud New Jersey native, Brad currently lives in Collingswood, NJ, with his wife Kim and their three children. When he’s not at the restaurant, Brad can be found training in Brazilian jiu jitsu and cooking for his family.