Wiz Kid is the brainchild of Rich Landau, chef and owner of trendy restaurants V Street and Vedge in Philadelphia. We recently had the chance to sit down and chat with Chef Rich about his new fast-casual restaurant and his star “crowd stunner” menu item: the Wiz Kid Philly. The best part? He swapped traditional steak for juicy, meaty mushrooms.
What inspired you to open a fast-casual restaurant?
“People don’t have time for fancy, white tablecloth, hour-long lunches anymore. In fact, some might be lucky to even have a half hour for lunch these days. Fast casual is being defined as the new American cuisine, because people want something that is healthy, delicious and fair priced, that they can take on the go.”
Why did you decide to swap mushrooms for meat in the Wiz Kid Philly?
“We wanted to use something that is completely fresh and whole. There aren’t many, if any, other vegetables that can mimic the taste of meat quite like mushrooms. When treated right, mushrooms are delicious, meaty and smoky. Portabellas are one of the best food products – they’re a real ‘knife & fork’ food. A knife won’t glide through any other food like it does through a portabella.”
What is your favorite mushroom variety?
“While portabellas are great to have on hand because of their versatility, my favorite variety is the maitake. They’re the next big thing. They have a very distinct ‘mushroomy’ flavor – which is a good thing! They’re just a beautiful mushroom. I love the difference in texture and the variety of flavor. When grilled, the tops get crunchy, crackly and caramelized, while the base stays thick and meaty.”
What is your go-to mushroom dish?
“Right now, probably the Philly from Wiz Kid. It’s just such a crowd stunner, and it’s great to see peoples’ reactions when they try it. They wonder why they have been eating meat all this time when they could be eating mushrooms!”
What has been the reaction to Wiz Kid so far?
“So far, the reaction has been stellar. I’ve had the sandwich recipe in my back pocket for a few years now, and I finally had the opportunity to showcase it. We’re super thrilled about it.”
If you live in Philly, we encourage you to try the famous Wiz Kid Philly for yourself, check out Wiz Kid’s satellite location in Whole Foods, and stay tuned for Wiz Kid’s 19th street location – opening soon!