by Leslie Feldman
You could say that Mt. Airy chef Andrew Gerulsky has been around the block a few times. From Center City to Glenside to Chestnut Hill, Andrew, 33, has had cooking gigs at some of the most well known and hippest restaurants since the age of 14.
It all started when he bused tables at the former Rizzo’s Pizzeria Restaurant, a Glenside landmark for 55 years. Over time, he started doing short-order cooking there. After graduating from Abington High in 2000, Gerulsky went to Temple University to study teaching but left after a year. He worked for a few months, then enrolled at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College. After earning his bachelor’s degree there in 2005, Andrew interned with the late chef Fritz Blank at the haute cuisine Deux Cheminees in Center City, then joined the staff of Pif in South Philly.
“I fell in love with French food after being trained classically French in school,” he said, “working at many French restaurants and visiting the country while attending school. And then working at Pif was great. We would walk the Italian market in the morning and see what looked good, buy it for that evening and then create the menu. I got exposed to many different ingredients. Everything was very fresh, and the walk-ins were almost empty because we would use stuff as we bought it. I learned how to respect food there.”
After additional stints at Brasserie Perrier, Valley Green Inn and Normandy Farms, to name a few, and longing for more “normal” work hours (and health insurance), Gerulsky accepted a prepared foods chef position at Weavers Way in Chestnut Hill in the deli section in January, 2014. A mainstay in the community for more than 45 years, Weavers Way started in the basement of Summit Presbyterian Church in West Mt. Airy as a buying club for people to get together and get a better deal on purchasing produce.
Today, Weavers Way has the original Mt. Airy store as well as the one in Chestnut Hill, where Gerulsky works, and Weavers Way Across the Way, a pet supply and wellness store. There is also Weavers Way Community Programs (WWCP), which is its non-profit arm that helps teach kids about farming and healthy food practices. Weaver’s Way also operates two farms at Awbury Arboretum and Saul High School. They grow food that is sold at the co-op and local farmers markets. For the past two years Gerulsky has organized the annual WWCP Farm-to-Table fundraising dinner at Awbury. (Weavers Way also has its own body-care line — organic and sustainable cleansing bars, body washes, lotions and other skin-care items, produced just for them!)
“I in particular benefit from the farms because I get to use their beautiful produce in the prepared foods department,” explained Gerulsky. “I have a great relationship with our farmers, especially Nina Berryman, who is in charge of the farms. Bonnie Shuman, our head chef, lets me order what I want for the kitchen. and we all benefit from our relationship with our farms.”
Although cooking is his first love, Gerulsky made a decision, with the support of his family and girlfriend, to go back to school at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown to study food science. “I started to realize after years of working in kitchens that it’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life. This was a tough decision because it’s all I’ve ever known. It has been a challenge to go back to school later in life. There are many different avenues I could travel with a degree in food science. I feel blessed that the co-op has allowed me to stay on part-time as I pursue my education.”
When not studying or in the kitchen at Weavers Way, Gerulsky tries to sneak out with his girlfriend to enjoy his neighborhood. “I love Mt. Airy. It’s the best of both worlds. I can get to Center City in 15 minutes, or I can walk 10 minutes and be in nature. The houses have yards. There’s basically everything you could ever need within a short distance.”
Weavers Way is located at 8424 Germantown Ave. They can be reached at 215-866-9150 or www.weaversway.coop.