“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
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.
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.
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.
Seasons 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.
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.
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.
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