team biographies
joe thomas, chef de cuisine

Chef Joe Thomas Jr. approaches his menu of contemporary, yet inherently American dishes with energy and creativity, while honoring the simplicity of the ingredients. His connection to creating updated classics comes from his own passion and love of developing flavors that blend the familiar with the unexpected.

He found his love for cooking as a teen, starting in the restaurant industry at age 14, and has been cooking ever since. A 2009 graduate of Walnut Hill College, Joe is a native Philadelphian. His culinary resume includes being mentored by Chef Tom Harkins, of national recognition. Joe worked his way up under Chef Harkins, starting as a culinary apprentice while attending school, and has ascended to Chef de Cuisine of Bank & Bourbon through hard work and a talent for culinary creativity. Throughout his career, Joe has acquired more knowledge, more skill and more inspiration from those around him, as well as the culinary innovation taking place in Philadelphia and other cities.

“Working in a unique, competitive environment in this city presents its own set of challenges, but I’m proud of the team we’ve put together at Bank & Bourbon and all that we’ve achieved”. His achievements include a warm review from Philadelphia Inquirer food critic, Craig Laban, who credited Bank & Bourbon with “striking a tone I could get used to”.

He served as Sous Chef of SoleFood, located at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, for over 7 years. In his spare time, Chef Joe enjoys cheering for the local sports teams including the Eagles, Sixers, Flyers and Phillies, in addition to fishing.

dan kulisek, bourbon master

Bank & Bourbon, an inherently American restaurant located in the booming culinary destination of Philadelphia, is pleased to welcome Daniel Kulisek as Bourbon Master.

In this role, Daniel will oversee Bank & Bourbon’s innovative barrel-aged cocktail program and its extensive collection of bourbon, whiskey and rye. At the restaurant, he will work closely with the entire beverage team to craft fresh and creative seasonal cocktails using the finest house-aged spirits and manage the private barrel-aging locker membership program. Daniel will also lead the restaurant’s exclusive Bourbon Tastings, new Distiller Happy Hours Series, and highly curated dinners and pairings with some the industry’s most elite brands such as Woodford Reserve and Four Roses. To book your private tasting experiences, please click here.

“Picking a drink to enjoy or pair with your meal can often be overwhelming,” says Dan Rivas, General Manager of Bank & Bourbon. “Daniel will help guide our guests through this process, help to educate them on the notes that they taste and smell, and also assist guests with pairing the right spirit with the right food for a memorable beverage and food experience.”

In order to create those perfect pairs, Kulisek traveled to Kentucky to handpick two barrel selections to showcase at the restaurant. Bank & Bourbon now features Russell’s Reserve Private Barrel and Four Roses Single OESK. Russell’s Reserve is made from the standard Wild Turkey mash bill of 72/13/12 (Corn/Rye/Barley) and has been aged for 10 years. This particular barrel of bourbon shows characteristics of caramel and vanilla, offers up notes of red fruits, especially cherry and a hint of spice making it beautifully well-balanced. The Four Roses Single OESK uses one of two mash bills; the “E” mash is 80/20 (Corn/Rye). Although this whiskey is high in corn, it has strong notes of spice, which comes from the “K.” Also aged for ten years, it has notes of tobacco, toffee and cinnamon.

Kulisek brings over 20 years of experience to his role as Bourbon Master. He most recently worked at Square 1682, where he ran the restaurant’s beverage program, overseeing their wine and spirits collection. Daniel has also traveled extensively learning firsthand about different distilleries and the different methods of whiskey production. Daniel resides in Audubon, New Jersey with his wife Laura, and son Danny. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, as well as writing and music performance.

So whether you prefer sweet aromatics, green notes of anything grassy, spices like pepper, fruit or florals, grab a seat and let our Bourbon Master do the rest.

amanda kaewvichien, pastry chef

Executive Pastry Chef Amanda Kaewvichien has created desserts for Oprah Winfrey, Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jerry Ford. She now employs her talents at Bank & Bourbon.

Born in Vientiane, Laos, she arrived in Philadelphia in 1980 and did not immediately enter the pastry profession. Instead, she attended nursing school. During this time she also took her first culinary job at the Rittenhouse Hotel working under Executive Chef Gary Coyle, formerly the chef at the renowned Tavern on the Green, New York City. She then worked for Jim Coleman, a celebrated author and TV show host. Kaewvichien began her culinary career in garde manger. After two years of making salads and sandwiches, she realized baking was her calling. While at the Rittenhouse Hotel, she requested to work in the pastry kitchen. There, she worked her way up from a cook to becoming an assistant pastry chef under Stanley Keenan. She joined The Loews Philadelphia Hotel in 2000 working under Corporate Chef Tom Kriebel.

In addition to her time in the pastry kitchen, Kaewvichien has appeared on local and regional television programs and has prepared desserts for a collaborated dinner at James Beard House, in New York City.

daniel rivas, general manager

Downingtown, PA native Dan Rivas could be found working in restaurants since his teenage years. Having worked a multitude of different positions in the kitchen and dining room, Dan’s sense of hospitality has been refined since a young age.

Dan has lived in Philadelphia for 11 years working for several restaurants, but it wasn’t until working for Derek Davis that he realized that hospitality is a true art which requires a sustained commitment to achieve. It was also at this time that Dan realized his love of wines and set the goal, which was achieved, of pursuing his Level 2 Certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Eventually becoming General Manager under Derek Davis’ mentorship gave Dan a unique perspective which eventually led to him to joining the team at Bank & Bourbon.

“Working with the team here at Bank & Bourbon in such a high-volume setting, and the competitive market presents a unique set of challenges, but ultimately it's a labor of love,” Dan has said. A Temple University graduate, Dan’s outgoing personality and genuine spirit of hospitality, along with contributions from the rest of his team, has allowed Bank & Bourbon to maintain sustained success four years after opening.

Dan lives in Philadelphia with his fiancée, and when not working, he enjoys attending Phillies and Sixers games in addition to cooking at home.