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From Backyard to Blend: 7 Simple Secrets

“Jersey Strong” not only resonates with me personally but also as a chef. I’ve lived at the Jersey Shore my entire life and can’t imagine being anywhere else. I love the beaches, the change of seasons, the history, the culture, and mostly, the people.   My homegrown Jersey roots are exactly what inspires me when I’m creating the menu for Blend. I like to cook in tune with the seasons and use ingredients that are readily available to me. Staying close to home allows me to support the local food movement, maintain freshness, and enjoy a wider variety of foods. And with such a vast landscape right outside my door, I don’t have to look very far. This is, after all, the Garden State.  

Aside from buying local ingredients (note: this is Secret #1), I have some other core principles that I always stick to. 

Meet the Staples at Every Table 

Eggs

There Are No Eggscuses: Fresh is Best 

I wasn’t kidding when I said I like to stay close to home. My backyard is literally the first stop of the day. This is where I grab the freshest eggs from the healthiest chickens. I should know. I feed them myself.

 

Fish

One Fish, Two Fish: I Say Buy the Whole Fish  

I prefer to buy the whole fish for two reasons: One, the quality remains intact; second, there is no waste. While many restaurants buy their beef or vegetable stock to save on cost, I use the excess from the fish to create the rich, savory stock that goes into many of our signature dishes. The taste is unparalleled.

 

baconsm

Why Settle for Anything Less than Smokin’ Hot?… Bacon, That Is

By mid-morning at Blend, the home-cured bacon has been smoking outside for over two hours. The unmistakable aroma is well-known throughout Blend’s tight-knit community, but I have a feeling that word, as well as smell, will travel over the next few months.

 

rampsSeasons Come & Go; So Do Veggies

As I mentioned, my menu is heavily influenced by the change of seasons. Right now, I am all over ramps (aka the wild leek, aka ramson). This tangy cross between an onion and garlic marks the onset of spring and is eagerly anticipated by foodies everywhere. After a long, bare winter, I have been on the edge of my seat waiting for these hearty beauties to make their debut. Fingers crossed, they will arrive by the 2nd week of April, so come in soon to see what the buzz is all about.

 

primehead

Welcome to the Club: Password is “Prime” 

Less than two percent of all beef produced in the United States will earn the prime rating. But you won’t find true prime meat for sale at the grocery store; rather, it tends to be purchased by chefs like myself. I guess it’s who you know on this one, which is good ‘cuz we’re all family here at Blend.

cheese

Say Cheese!

I love cheese. I’m Italian, and I’m a chef, so it kind of goes with the territory. Like fine wine, cheese just gets better with age and adds so much richness to a plate. Mozzarella and ricotta are made in-house, but we always have a variety of intriguing cheeses here at Blend.

All chefs have their own trade secrets.

I just shared 7 of my best ones with you. Come in anytime to find out the others.

~Chef Lou

Make a reservation to come dine with us.

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Chef Lou Looks Ahead for 2016

clside2March 1st marks a major milestone for Blend as we embark on our third year in Manasquan. We couldn’t be happier with the positive feedback from our customers and the continued growth of our brand. All of us here at Blend thank you for your ongoing support and are pleased to announce some exciting plans for 2016. As sole owner and Executive Chef, I look forward to hearing your comments, serving up your favorites, and always creating new ways to make your next meal at Blend your best meal!

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner: Blend-Style 

2015 was a busy and exciting year for us. We expanded beyond the dining room and launched our new breakfast/lunch menu at the Peach Pit Cafe.  (No, we don’t mean the set of Beverly Hills 90210, although that was pretty epic!) We’ve been having a great time watching our customers soak up the morning sun while enjoying a casual meal and great cup of coffee. Also coming soon to the Peach Pit  are “Build A Burger” nights, so be on the lookout.

From Our Kitchen to Yours, Blend Delivers Quality Food For Your Convenience

In addition to the Peach Pit, I am also expanding our services, including bringing Blend on the road and into your kitchen. As a father of three girls and business owner, I know how hard it is to plan and prepare healthy meals. Good nutrition and all of its benefits often go out the window when you’re frantically trying to figure out what to cook for dinner. With our help, you can have delicious meals made with fresh ingredients without sacrificing time. We also offer several gluten-free options, which definitely don’t lack in the taste department. Whether it’s takeout or full-meal option, we are committed to bringing you quality food. Here’s a sneak peak at some of Blend’s upcoming services:

Enhanced Online/Mobile Experience – instant access to daily specials, menus, reservations, gift cards, online ordering, and expanded social media integration.

New Dining Options 

  • Chef Lou’s Express Meals – Pick up a fully prepared meal for you or your entire family.
    • Select Your Meal > Order Online > Pick it Up > Eat it Up
  • Chef Lou@Home  – Enjoy a personalized menu cooked to order in your home by one of our head chefs.
    • Consult > Plan Your Menu > In-Home Preparation > Clean Up
  • Recipe Ready with Chef Lou – We give you a box full of goodies, including our secret recipes and finest ingredients.
    • Select a Recipe > Order Online > Cook it Up > Eat it Up

As we get ready to launch these new endeavors, I’m just as excited today as I was when we first opened our doors.  No matter what time of day or what you’re in the mood for, we always have the perfect “blend!”

~ Chef Lou

Make a reservation to come dine with us.