Heather Fiorentino/ Philadelphia

Executive Chef Sergei Nicholas Simonov of Loquita, Santa Barbara, CA 2023

Photo Credit: Union League of Philadelphia

160 Years of Culinary Excellence

The kitchens of the historic Union League of Philadelphia have prepared dining experiences for U.S. presidents, heads of state and global dignitaries for nearly 160 years. This sets the bar high for Union League Pastry Cook Heather Fiorentino.

The Union League’s pastry department is divided between its banquet and wedding facilities and the two restaurants where Heather works, including the upscale 1862 Restaurant by Four Seasons alum Martin Hamman. The restaurants’ ice cream, fruit sauces, gels, and mousses are all created in-house. Heather’s “Very Berry Sorbet” reigns as a cherished delight among club members, symbolizing the Union League’s commitment to elevating the dining experience. For the holidays, Heather enjoys making cranberry purée from scratch. But for seasonality, efficiency and consistency, The Perfect Purée is their high-impact flavoring of choice. “We have free range to experiment and try new things on the menus,” Heather says.

Heather’s Very Berry Sorbet is a club favorite bursting with seasonal flavors of The Perfect Purée Blackberry, Blueberry, Red Raspberry and Strawberry. A refreshing end to a summer meal, Very Berry Sorbet is high-impact flavoring at its best. “Personally, I use a lot of purées in ice creams and sorbets, pretty much any time we need a fruit base,” Heather says. “The consistency is always great, the colors are bright and vibrant and the flavors stay the same.”

History In a Nutshell

The Union League of Philadelphia was founded in 1862 as a patriotic society supporting the Union and the policies of President Abraham Lincoln. The Union League of Philadelphia laid the philosophical foundation of other Union Leagues across a nation torn by civil war. Its distinctive brick and brownstone building with twin circular staircases spans an entire city block. Built in 1865, it’s emblematic of Philadelphia’s contribution to American history and belongs to the National Register of Historic Places. Today its 4,000 members can visit five additional properties, including golf clubs and seaside dining retreats.

Members expect elevated offerings from the club’s fine dining facilities. Among the summer dinner menu choices are Foie Gras Mousse with Lemon Curd and Seasonal Fruit, Sesame Crusted Shrimp Galette in a Ginger Carrot Pool with Charred Scallion; and Roasted Center Cut Beef Filet with Truffled Cauliflower and Potato Purée, Red Onion Marmalade and Cabernet Reduction. Summer desserts include Lemon Meringue Torte with Fresh Raspberries and Lemon Jus, and Peaches and Cream with Peach Compote and Vanilla Cream Pudding.

Heather studied baking and pastry at Atlantic Cape Community College in New Jersey and attended culinary school in California. She and her fellow Union League pastry chefs are pros at making silky pumpkin and sweet potato purées. For the holidays, she enjoys making cranberry purée from scratch. But for seasonality, efficiency and consistency, The Perfect Purée is their high-impact flavoring of choice. “Fruit is not always going to be the same ripeness and size,” Heather says.