Tag Archives: New Jersey

i8tonite with Maritime Parc Chef Chris Siversen and Mushroom Pasta Recipe

i8tonite with Maritime Parc Chef Chris Siversen and Mushroom Pasta RecipeManhattan and its boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens have long been viewed as bastions of great gastronomic experiences. From Elaine’s to The Four Seasons, Babbo to Per Se, no one doubts the Big Apple and how well it eats. Yet, as forecasters of doom say, “The rents are so high in New York,” what’s a budding restaurateur and chef do? If you are smart, such as Chef Chris Siversen, you move across the Hudson to Jersey City.

Born in Long Island and trained at The French Culinary Institute, Mr. Siversen, who proclaims himself a proud New Yorker, says, “After 9/11, my then wife and I started looking in different areas to buy a home and we came to New Jersey.”

As a chef, he had worked at landmark Big Apple institutions such as Alison on Dominick Street and the ‘21’ Club, as well as running the kitchen for famed caterer Pamela Morgan Flavors – and was looking to open his restaurant. “For me, pomp and circumstance matters, I want to see a show in the cooking,” he articulates.

i8tonite with Maritime Parc Chef Chris Siversen and Mushroom Pasta Recipe

Five years ago, Siversen opened his restaurant, Maritime Parc, and continues to operate it with a business partner while he executes delicious food in the kitchen. Since the introduction, the 30,000-square foot dining hall, which includes 18,000 square feet of special event space, has quickly become one of New Jersey’s brightest gastronomic institutions, landing in New Jersey Monthly’s best ten list every year. With sweeping views of Lower Manhattan and the World Trade Center, the slightly Nordic- and maritime-flavored experience has received accolades, including the New York Times, which stated, “…polished in presentation and execution.” No small words from The Grey Lady herself.

i8tonite with Maritime Parc Chef Chris Siversen and Mushroom Pasta Recipe

In late 2015, Siversen opened a fast-casual hamburger place called Burg, in Newark’s Military Park. With a variety of burgers from tuna to vegetarian and chicken to good old beef, it’s quickly become one of the city’s buzziest eating places. Open only in warm weather, when the kids are out of school and dining outside is de riguer, the 1800-square foot restaurant is packed with those coming from the other side of the tunnel.

Let it be known Chef Chris Siversen is smart – smart enough to move outside of New York City and into New Jersey…and of course, our bellies are better for it.

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
23+ years

What is your favorite food to cook?
Anything with pasta

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Condiments-I’m a condiment junkie

What do you cook at home?
Simple-mostly based around my children’s needs

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
Appreciation for food and wine and willingness to try new things

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
Lack of manners and respect for others dining in the restaurant

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Rubbermaid

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine at home and cocktails when I’m out

Your favorite cookbook author?
The late Charlie Trotter’s books were a game changer

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My 3” serrated paring knife is my crutch

Your favorite ingredient?
Vinegar and Salt

Your least favorite ingredient?
Okra

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Drying the dishes

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Italian and Asian

i8tonite with Maritime Parc Chef Chris Siversen and Mushroom Pasta Recipe

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Pork

Favorite vegetable?
Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Mushrooms

Chef you most admire?
Daniel Boulud

Food you like the most to eat?
Anything with pasta

Food you dislike the most?
Not a fan of Offal other than liver and sweetbreads

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
Zero tattoos

Recipe: Mushroom Pasta

i8tonite with Maritime Parc Chef Chris Siversen and Mushroom Pasta Recipe

Ingredients:
½ # Orecchiette Pasta
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Small Spanish Onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1# Oyster Mushrooms or a mix of your favorite
3-4 Scallions, sliced-from the stem up
1-2oz. Red Wine Vinegar
2-3 Bulbs Peeled Garlic,chopped
Baby Spinach-Large Handful
Parmigiano Reggiano-a small piece to grate with microplane
1 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
A few big branches of Italian Parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and Pepper

Directions:
Cook pasta according to directions of brand you buy.

Remove slightly early to leave room for cooking in sauté pan and reserve with a couple oz of cooking water.

While pasta is cooking, heat a sauté pan on medium heat-add olive oil then onion and cook until slightly translucent.

Add scallions and cook until barely tender.

Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper and cook until slightly crisp on the edges-add more olive oil if the pan gets dry.

Add vinegar and cook until reduced to a syrup, then add back pasta with the cooking water.

Add the spinach, toss, and cook until barely wilted.

Finally, add butter and grate the parm cheese until well covered, then add the parsley.

Adjust seasoning and serve.

– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite with Restaurant Serenade Chef James Laird & Veal Ragout Recipe

i8tonite with Restaurant Serenade Chef James Laird & Veal Ragout RecipeOne of the great attractions of New Jersey are the small towns with picturesque streets, seemingly family values and charm. It’s no surprise than one of the area’s excellent restaurants, Serenade, in Chatham, New Jersey resides there. Great East Coast restaurants are starting to close as times change and rents become out of reach for independents. Yet under the guiding hand of chef/ owner James Laird and his wife, Nancy Sheridan Laird, their restaurant is celebrating two decades of delicious service.

Over the years, Laird has received accolades from The New York Times, calling him “one of the best classically trained chefs in New Jersey.” The glossy New Jersey Monthly has consistently rated his restaurant among “the best of the best,” and Crain’s NY Business stated, “Serenade is among the Garden State’s most rewarding dining destinations.” High praise for an autonomous cafe on the other side of the river.

i8tonite with Restaurant Serenade Chef James Laird & Veal Ragout RecipeHowever, it’s not surprising that his eating venture has lasted into a milestone old-age for a restaurant, as Laird has an enviable epicurean pedigree. Graduating from the renowned Culinary Institute of America, he traveled to Europe, gaining skills under a variety of noted chefs and increasing his knowledge of cooking. Upon returning to the States, he worked at three of New York City’s noted fine-dining establishments in the 90s – Lespinasse, The River Café, and Aureole – before becoming the sous chef at the culinary landmark Ryland Inn and eventually owning his own place.

Interestingly, Chef Laird says that rolling with the changing times has kept Serenade in the forefront of diners’ minds. “We used to serve foie gras when we first opened,” he says. “Now, we have a burger on the menu. We have a small (food listing) to keep the diners happy if they don’t want a full on dining experience. We also bought our building and it saves immensely on our overhead. We can create great dishes without passing on the high cost.”

As the dining scene changes around the world with quick service becoming the norm, it’s refreshing to see a chef feel comfortable in his surroundings and in his skin. One of the key reasons Chef Laird says he has a restaurant? “I love to cook.”

i8tonite with Restaurant Serenade Chef James Laird & Veal Ragout Recipe

 

Chef Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust)

How long have you been cooking?
35 years

What is your favorite food to cook?
Fish

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Butter, Limes, Coconut Creamer

What do you cook at home?
As little as possible, toast is great!

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
A customer who notices all of the details

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
Closed-minded customers

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Rubbermaid

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine

i8tonite with Restaurant Serenade Chef James Laird & Veal Ragout RecipeYour favorite cookbook author?
Joël Robuchon

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Butcher’s Steel

Your favorite ingredient?
Thyme

Your least favorite ingredient?
Rosemary

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Scrubbing the grill

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Italian, Asian, French

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Beef

Favorite vegetable?
Broccoli

Chef you most admire?
Joël Robuchon

Food you like the most to eat?
Anything my wife cooks

Food you dislike the most?
Very Spicy foods

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No Tats

Recipe: Veal Ragout with Dill and Crispy Mushrooms

i8tonite with Restaurant Serenade Chef James Laird & Veal Ragout Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 lbs. veal, cubed
1 quart chicken or veal stock
1 cup white wine
2 medium onions, diced
2 TBS. flour
4 oz. sweet butter
3 TBS. fresh dill, chopped (about one bunch)
4 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
10 oz button mushrooms, sliced

Directions
1. Dry and season veal with salt and pepper. Brown meat in batches in heavy pan, suitable for the oven.
2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
3. Sauté onions in same pan in 2 oz. butter until translucent and soft. Add flour. Mix well and cook for two to three minutes.
4. Add white wine. Simmer until slightly thickened. Add stock and bring to a boil. Taste and season lightly with salt and pepper.
5. Add veal and accumulated juices to pot. Bring back to boil. Lower to simmer. Place in oven, uncovered.
6. Heat remaining butter in sauté pan. Sauté mushrooms until very brown and crispy. Reserve.
7. Simmer in oven until fork tender. Remove from oven and stir in chopped tomatoes. Season.
8. Immediately prior to serving, stir in dill. Sprinkle mushrooms on top of veal.
9. Serve over buttered noodles or rice.
The End. Go Eat.
Recipe photo flickr cc: https://www.flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/5032563727

All other photos courtesy and copyright Chef James Laird

i8tonite: with Chef Ilson Goncalves of Samba and Acorn Moranga

SambaMontclairAcornMorangaOne of the great things about the United States are our individual food stories. It’s inspirational to share epicurean traditions from one’s native country showcasing edible discoveries. Like many chefs, Ilson Gonçalves of Samba Montclair, was inspired by his Brazilian mother and her restaurant. Gonçalves makes annual pilgrimages to his birthplace, Blumenau, a small city located in Southern Brazil, to discover and re-imagine traditional and non-traditional recipes alike for his guests.

Samba, the bring-your-own-bottle, 32-seat venue has been reviewed by many regional dining critics as well as the venerable The New York Times. The latter citing in an enthusiastic review, “The kitchen is small and the food that comes out of it is guileless: straightforward, hearty, built for comfort”. The dining writer ended his eating observations stating, “Diners…may be pleasantly surprised by Samba’s homey pleasures and mellow atmosphere. This Brazilian place proudly bops to a different beat.”

All year round Samba offers stellar dining, but fall is really special when guests can avail themselves of Chef SambaMontclairOwnerIlsonGoncalvesGonçalves childhood Brazilian memories with signature dishes such as Mandioca frita com linguica calabresa e cebola (fried yucca with Brazilian pork sausage and caramelized onions), Bobó de camarão (yucca purée with coconut milk, tomatoes and onion served with whole shrimp and white rice) or Bifo a cavalo (thin pan fried steak topped with two fried eggs served with sautéed collard greens, white rice and breaded fried banana). New Jersey Monthly notes that Gonçalves “serves up an excellent version” of the traditional feijoada, Brazil’s national dish, a gently braised stew of black-bean, pork, dried beef, and linguiça.

Samba’s success clearly lies with Gonçalves culinary skills, affection for his mother and Brazilian cooking techniques. It is a delicious and loving homage to Brazilian home-cooking and mothers who cook, inspiring generations to do the same.

SambaMug

Chef Questionnaire from Chef Ilson Gonçalves:

How long have you been cooking? I learned to cook when I was 11 years old in my mom’s restaurant in Brazil.

What is your favorite food to cook? Chicken soup.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Pomegranates. When I watch a movie, pomegranate for me is like popcorn.

Photo by Shelby Stewart
Photo by Shelby Stewart

What do you cook at home? I don’t really cook much at home because I live by myself.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? People who are open-minded about trying different foods.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? The (individuals) who eat the whole plate then complain about the food.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Pyrex. I hate Tupperware. My mother used to have so much Tupperware that when I opened her cabinet it would fall on my head.

Beer, wine or cocktail? Wine. But it depends, if I go to a bar with friends, I

Photo by TravelJunction
Photo by TravelJunction

like beer.

Your favorite cookbook author? I don’t follow cookbooks.

Your favorite kitchen tool? You can do anything with a knife.

Your favorite ingredient? Yucca. I think it’s very universal, like flour.

Your least favorite ingredient? Cucumber. It makes me nauseous just to think about it.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Wash burnt pans.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Brazilian, but I’m biased.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Everything depends on what I’m in the mood for. I can’t eat tofu, though, because I’m allergic.

Cassava
Yucca/ Cassava: Photo by Tom Rulkens

Favorite vegetable? Yucca.

Chef you most admire? Alex Atala of D.O.M. in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Food you like the most to eat? Rice and fried eggs.

Food you dislike the most? Anything that has cucumber.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? None. I think they look good on others, but I can’t see myself with tattoos.

SambaAcornMoranga
Acorn Moranga: Photo by Samba Montclair

Recipe: Acorn Moranga

  • 2 medium acorn squash
  • 1 medium butternut squash, diced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium white onions, diced
  • 4 gloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • 1 lb. u12 shrimp
  • Parsley and cilantro for garnish
  • 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

Cut acorn squash in half and remove seeds, creating a bowl. Cover squash with aluminum foil and cook in a 350 degree oven until tender,  60-75 minutes.

Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet. Over medium heat, cook the onion with garlic and caramelize the butternut squash.  When squash is tender, add the heavy cream and coconut milk and simmer. Add the shrimp and cook another 4 minutes.

Pour the cooked butternut squash and shrimp mixture into the acorn squash. Garnish with parsley and cilantro and top with shaved Parmesan. Makes 4 servings.

SambaFood

 The End. Go Eat.