Chef Tonii Hicks is New Chef in Residency at Volvér

Marilyn Johnson

Chef Jose Garces welcomes Chef Tonii Hicks as the next Chef in Residency at Volvér at the Kimmel Center (300 S. Broad Street). This award-winning program supports the collective vision of the Kimmel Cultural Campus and Garces to foster an inclusive, innovative cultural future for Philadelphia by supporting emerging minority chefs.
Iron Chef Jose Garces Introduces New Chef in Residency Tonii Hicks at Volvér Restaurant in Center City Philadelphia.Photo byVolvér

Chef Hicks’ residency will run now through March 19, 2023, with exclusive dishes inspired by North African cuisine, including Golden Beet Crudo, Shrimp Tostada, Salmon Cake, Steamed Fish, Lamb Chops, and Cherry Water Ice. During the residency, Chef Hicks will fundraise to open a brand-new commissary building in West Philadelphia and create new hospitality jobs. The Garces Foundation will match up to the first $5,000 raised, allowing Hicks to raise at least $10,000.

"I am so excited to have Chef Tonii join us at Volvér for the Chefs in Residency program," said Garces. "She is an absolute force, both in the kitchen and outside. I love the way she plays with flavors and can infuse all of her dishes with a level of joy that is rare to see.”

Chef Hicks was born and raised in Philadelphia. Chef focuses on mentoring upcoming chefs, culinary education, community engagement, and food science and innovation. With her Bachelor of Science in Culinary Science from Drexel University, Chef Hicks has studied how to manipulate food from a rudimentary state to a delectable entrée. While working for over ten years in the industry and the finest restaurants in the city, Hicks has learned the importance of food and its applications. Her true passion lies in using her art to acknowledge, educate, and do what it takes to invest in social justice in Philadelphia.

Garces added, “Philadelphia is a great food town, and homegrown chefs like Tonii are a huge part of what makes our dining scene so amazing. Chef Tonii is a Philly girl through and through, and I’m honored to be a part of her trajectory. She’s not just a fantastic chef, but is also incredibly community-focused. She is working to build a commissary building in West Philadelphia to help other food entrepreneurs build their success."

In June 2021, Chef Hicks was awarded a Stone Barns Agriculture Fellowship scholarship to present fresh farm-to-table food free to residents in low-income communities. In May 2022, Chef was selected as a James Beard House Fellow for their 10-week fellowship program.

Chef is the part-time Program Coordinator at C-CAP, overseeing student scholarship applications, job training, and cooking competition demonstrations.

Looking toward the future, Hicks has set her sights on opening a commissary building to educate, serve and support the Philadelphia community. While still in the planning phase, she has a clear vision. She dreams of a community-driven space open to chefs, artists, and education programs—anyone needing a space to gather and cook.

“I plan on using the money raised to invest in opening a commissary building in Philadelphia,” said Hicks. “It will provide the community with access to hands-on culinary knowledge and serve as a kitchen space for chefs and a studio space for creators. My goal is to raise our culinary community and create more opportunities and jobs in the marketplace. Unlike most Black-owned businesses in Philadelphia, I want to own the building I invest in. Being able to own land in my community while providing useful resources is something that I cherish."

Reservations are available at, via OpenTable, or by calling 215-670-2302.

Marilyn Johnson is a freelance food and travel writer covering the food and drink scene of Philadelphia, South Jersey food, the greater Mid-Atlantic area, and beyond. Email Marilyn at with food and travel news. If you liked this article, throw Marilyn a coffee! Follow Marilyn on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

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Marilyn Johnson is a Philadelphia area-based food and travel writer focusing on food & drink in the Mid-Atlantic region. Email for Philly area news; for travel tips and opportunities.

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