Located between Philadelphia and New York City, the Lehigh Valley has always boasted to be the hotbed of various restaurants and fine dining. The Pennsylvania Dutch Culture and various immigration occurring years ago have led to the development of diverse restaurants in the Lehigh Valley. If you take a drive to the Lehigh Valley and want to experience a quaint and popular restaurant that will bring you a local flavor, look no further then Morgan’s. Located past Parkland High School in South Whitehall Township, it is situated more in the countryside than the city. Morgan’s is actually a stone farmhouse that dates back to the 1700’s, which in the past was known as Appenino’s Restaurant. The history of Morgan’s falls back on Blake Morgan, the owner and Chef of the restaurant. He has managed to create a successful restaurant, while raising a family and putting a large amount of time into community service.
Blake’s experience came from a long time of working in other restaurants. The first man he ever worked for was an inspiration. This owner loved what he was doing. He enjoyed every aspect of the restaurant business. This influenced Blake and not only did he want good quality food for his restaurant, but he also wanted to be a place known to make and keep people happy. He wants to meet, greet and listen to what his customers have to say. This quality is what makes him so successful in everything he does. He cares about the patron’s experience and he wants them to enjoy their time at his restaurant. Many people have told me that his staff is courteous and you feel like a part of a new family from the moment you walk in the restaurant until the time you leave. When I asked him if any other Chefs inspire him he replied, “I take a little bit from everybody.” He enjoys watching the Food Network and finds it a continuous learning experience. He even listens to his customers. One of the things that inspire him about being a Chef is the fast pace the business demands, as well as the creativity and the people he meets each day. When you meet Blake his positive and pleasant personality makes you feel like you have known him all your life. He has been in the business for thirty years. His past experience as Chef of the King George Inn and Magnolia Vineyard and Appenino’s helped him to realize that his dream of being a restaurant owner could be accomplished.
When Morgan’s opened in February, 2005, he found that Starting his restaurant was not an easy task. He knew that because of the economy, a lot of good restaurants had closed their doors. Staying open would require to bring something special and needed to this area of South Whitehall Township. This is where training at the Culinary Institute of America came in to play. This training and creativeness helped him suceeed when the economy started to go downhill. Pushing through those tough years without having to lay off any employees was a daunting task but paid off by showing his employees that he is loyal to them.
While working as a Chef, Blake became involved in running Parkland Youth Center as a volunteer and coach. This involved a lot of volunteer time to help the youth of the Parkland community. The first time I met him was when I was younger and I was signing up for baseball through the Parkland Youth Center. His volunteer time gained him the respect and appreciation of the community. He was raising a family, working as a Chef and still finding time to do community service. “Coaching girls’ softball is a break from work, “replied Blake when I asked him about his coaching. Taking a break from your normal routine can only make you better at what you do. His volunteer experience and his dedication to the sport have landed him as Orefield’s Middle School’s softball coach, and he is also an assistant coach to the Parkland Girls’ Varsity softball team.
There is no doubt his contribution to the Parkland community over the years makes him stand out as a respected individual and businessman. This brings customers to his store out of Not only is he running a business and developing new entrée’s on an ongoing basis, but he also still finds time to encourage the youth through his coaching.
Chef Morgan likes to bring a local flavor to his dishes. When someone from outside the area arrives at the restaurant, they are given a choice of his specialty dishes that they cannot get anywhere else. Blake uses quality ingredients from local farmers markets. His ability to create his own dishes is what keeps patrons coming back for more. His Salmon Crab Cakes are one of his specialties and most ordered dishes. While I was talking to him about this dish he turned to a nearby customer and asked “What is your favorite dish?” The customer gleefully said that his was the Ravioli Mozzarella. His preparations of his dishes are eye-catching and bring the patron a quality meal that they enjoy from start to finish. When asked about why he thinks these are his best dishes, he claims it is because of the quality of the ingredients that are used in them. He orders his seafood through Philadelphia Fish Market and only provides the top local cuts for his entrees. “Good food is good food,” states Blake. Choosing his ingredients has to be one of the most important aspects of his business. By using local farmers markets, he designs his dishes using a seasonal approach. Although his menu is consistent, his seasonal dishes is a great example of his talent and versatility. With these fresh ingredients and the great cooking, Morgan’s seems to provide a dining experience that keeps his regulars returning again and again.
His menu is also varied that you can take an entire family in and I’m sure they will find something to their satisfaction. He expresses himself through his food and enjoys challenges when developing a new dish. By creating his own dishes, he is able to bring his own local flavor to his dishes. No matter if you prefer breakfast, lunch or dinner, there is a meal waiting for you to enjoy. You can order a dinner entrée at lunchtime if you prefer, or a lunch entrée at dinner. This versatility in the menu is a good approach to pleasing all members of the family. His menu offers everything from homemade waffles at breakfast to Filet Mignon for dinner. His extensive menu is Chef Morgan’s trademark that makes him one of the top Chef s in the Lehigh Valley. He has appeared on WFMZ Sunrise Chef numerous times. When doing these shows, he provides recipes that he knows people will make. Intricate recipes take a long time so he provides good, quick and easy recipes for people to use.
“The difference between a chef and a cook is the rate of speed at which a meal is made,“ says Morgan. A fine restaurant will require more time to prepare your order. His ethics are what any college student, can look up to and admire. His priorities of raising a family, donating a large amount of his time to the community and providing an excellent business to South Whitehall Township is why he remains so successful.