It’s unlikely Chef Anne Moriarta would be comfortable being referred to as a star, but thankfully her sister and Chefanti co-owner, Jennifer Moriarta, made sure Chef Anne’s pedigree was clear: she’s worked for some of the most impressive restaurants in Atlanta and on the Main Line, and now her cuisine is available to-go in downtown West Chester.
Chef Anne most recently was executive chef partner at Seasons 52 in King of Prussia, a restaurant she opened in April 2010 on behalf of Darden Restaurants. She’d previously opened one in Atlanta and worked in the Cherry Hill location, but what she’s most known for is leading the charge in other notable kitchens in Atlanta. Chef Anne was the first female executive chef at Peasant Restaurant Group’s flagship City Grill and executive chef at its Dailey’s Restaurant. In fact, since she entered the industry, Chef Anne developed a stellar reputation in and out of the kitchen, hosting fundraisers for the Atlanta AIDS walk, the Human Rights Campaign and the celebrity-packed New Year’s Even in July bash.
“Anne has a long history and name recognition in Atlanta as well as locally from Seasons 52, and now we have her here bringing her light and tasty meals to busy people in greater West Chester,” Jennifer said.
Amazingly, Chef Anne didn’t start her career in restaurants. Born in upstate New York, she was surrounded by the industry with a chef father and restaurant manager mother. Yet she chose equine science at Colorado State University and spent several years as a jockey and trainer in southern Chester County, south Georgia, Virginia and Kentucky.
“My first career was to get away from food; of course, I came back to it,” Chef Anne explained. “At 30, I got kicked by a horse and broke my leg. I thought, ‘I love this, but I don’t make a lot and here I am: 30.’ So because I came from a food family, had worked in restaurants and knew the drill, I went back to culinary school.”
Chef Anne was accepted into the Culinary Arts Program at the Atlanta Art Institute. During her time there, she held several jobs, starting as a prep cook and, by the time she graduated, working as a sous chef. Her focus has always been on making innovative, elegant food from the freshest in-season ingredients in realistic portions and using cooking techniques that require less oils or butters but result in big flavors.
So, why give up the notable restaurant route to open a takeout joint? Much like the philosophy of Chefanti, Chef Anne’s decision was about quality of life.
“A friend got sick, and I realized it’s not about the money, but about living life a little better,” she explained. “Did I really want to work 80 to 100 hours a week for the rest of my life? I love this area, my parents are here, and Jennifer and her family are here. My whole life has changed for the better.”
Luckily for every busy family, business person, college student—everyone—Chef Anti (as her nieces and nephews call her) decided to partner with Jennifer to make sure everyone in West Chester and its environs is well fed with thoughtfully prepared, nutritious and delicious takeout food. Chefanti is open Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for Grab & Go lunch. Even better news? Almost everything available in the ‘fridge can be eaten cold, a real yummy time-saver. Monday through Thursday, pick up for pre-ordered dinner is 4 to 7 p.m., and delivery in the borough and 19382 is available during two delivery windows: 2 to 5 p.m. or 5 to 7 p.m. The current menu and ordering details are available on the Web.
I always like to ask chefs their favorite things to cook and their favorite comfort foods. For Chef Anne, it’s food that tastes like food, the way it’s supposed to taste. This comes from tending the family garden and growing up next to dairy farms.
“I have a great love for food, so I can make just about anything, but I don’t bake a lot,” she added. “I love to break down meat and fish. I can cook southern, but I’m a Yankee at heart. So while I appreciate good collard greens and black-eyed peas, my favorite comfort foods are chicken pot pie and spaghetti. With a sauce that takes all day to make.”
Even a thin, fit, health-conscious chef has a weakness, though. For Chef Anne, it’s the occasional Wawa apple fritter. Really. Like you’ve never scarfed down a guilty pleasure when no one was looking. Puh-leese! You can make up for it with a fresh Chefanti meal.
Chefanti is located at 211 E. Market St. in West Chester. Reach them by phone at (610) 429-0467, and keep up with the delicious details online at chefanti.com.
Featured photo and top three photo credits: Nina Malone; bottom three, Chefanti.