Rising Star Chef Christopher Kearse of Will - Biography

Philadelphia, PA

February 2013

Like many chefs of his generation, Christopher Kearse fell in love with food watching the Food Network and discovering the culinary world beyond his suburban upbringing. Unlike his peers, Kearse watched food television while confined to a hospital bed in his home. After a drunk-driving accident left 16-year-old Kearse with severe damage to his face—even robbing his ability to eat solid foods—he poured his energy into the kitchen, devouring cookbooks and making meals for his family six nights a week.

At 18, Kearse left home to attend the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, through which he set up stages at wd~50 and Café Gray in New York City and London’s Gordon Ramsay and St. John. After graduating as class valedictorian, Kearse mailed letters to 10 of America’s greatest chefs, hoping to secure challenging jobs. He went first to The French Laundry for a two-month stage, followed by a short stint at Charlie Trotter’s as poissonier. Staying rooted in Chicago, Kearse worked for a year and a half under Chef Laurent Gras at Tru—topped off by weekend stages at Grant Achatz’s Alinea.

Ultimately, Kearse wanted to open his own restaurant, and he knew Philadelphia would be the market to make his break. Returning in 2008, Kearse worked at fine-dining Lacroix before moving to under-the-radar Pumpkin, where he began to hone his personal style. In August 2012, Kearse opened Will, a small BYOB with big ambition and beautiful food. Less than a year later he earned a 2013 StarChefs.com Philadelphia Rising Stars Chef Award. The restaurant is a personal testament to Kearse’s own will and the fruits of his boundless determination and creativity.