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Monday, May 14, 2012

The Ryland Inn

Scott Anderson, Raj Dixit, David Drake, and James Laird. What do these individuals have in common? Besides the fact that they are all extremely successful and talented chefs, Mr. Anderson, Mr. Dixit, Mr. Drake, and Mr. Laird all honed their skills at the Ryland Inn under the eminent New Jersey Chef – Craig Shelton, whose mentoring catalyzed these once young cooks’ present triumphs. 

         At the Ryland Inn, Shelton single-handedly transformed New Jersey into a dining mecca. Food lovers flocked to Whitehouse, NJ to sample what was considered to be “THE #1 TOP TABLE IN USA” by GQ Magazine. Fran Schumer, the former New York Times Restaurant, writes in his review of the Ryland Inn, “When does a restaurant rate extraordinary? When, after three or four hours, you don’t walk out of the dining room, you float”. “Country Kitchen, City Palate--The Ryland Inn Is an Exquisite Mix”. The Ryland Inn was the first New Jersey Restaurant to garner the title "extraordinary" from the New York Times (The only other NJ-based restaurant to be awarded this title was, and still is, Restaurant Nicholas).

         Shelton’s accolades should not come as surprises either. Like many aspiring chefs of his time, Craig Shelton trained intensively in Europe as a budding cook. Then, he further enhanced his skill-set by working for Chef David Bouley, a titan of the American dining scene. It also should be mentioned that Craig Shelton is a renaissance man.  An adroit painter, an avid farmer, and a pure genius, Mr. Shelton is multi-talented.

         Even though the Ryland Inn is most known for its time under Shelton’s management, the Inn has a rich and longstanding history. During America’s youth the Inn functioned as a stagecoach stop between New York and Philadelphia. Travelers were able to stay overnight and enjoy simple, fresh food in a quaint and bucolic setting.

         Fast-forward to 2007, and the unthinkable happened - the Ryland Inn closed (Well, to be honest, anytime a restaurant terminates it really should not come as a surprise. The restaurant business is as risky of a field as there is.) A series of electrical and structural complications amalgamated with the declining economy forced Chef Craig Shelton to close his flagship restaurant.

         Then in 2011, Landmark Hospitality bought the Ryland Inn and hired Anthony Bucco as the executive chef.

         This is where I come in. Chef Bucco and I worked together for over a year at Uproot Restaurant in Warren, New Jersey. When I got word that he was going to be the opening chef, I contacted him right away, and he graciously gave me the opportunity to be apart of the developmental processes and watch a fine dining restaurant grow from a construction site into an apex of gastronomy. The knowledge that I will gain from this experience is paramount to my future career in the hospitality industry.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What is Next For Fine Dining ?

Fat is flavor, right? Up until recently the past statement governed the world of fine dining. Butter and cream dominated menus of the elite restaurants of late 1900s, and then in the 2000s pork belly and foie gras took their place. While opulent and fatty foods are extremely delicious, it is even more satisfying to be enthralled by a bright and clean plate of food.

Courtesy of A Life Worth Eating

While reflecting on his inspiring experience at Brooklyn Fare, Chef David Kinch talked wonders about his tantalizing meal; "Eating his food and listening to him talk last night made me realize that he is one of the few that gets it. Sure, people use Japanese ingredients and can do all the fusing, but it's not at that level. Every bite is alive. Nothing has more than three things on it. There is no fat, yet everything is singing. He can build the acids, build the flavors. He thinks like I try to." ( While I have never eaten either Manresa or Brooklyn Fare, I admire what they do and long for a meal at both restaurants. 

Courtesy of Brooklyn Fare

Why do most people enjoy Japanese food? Part of it is because it is delicious, but the more important reason is that after eating a well-crafted Japanese meal, individuals feel healthy, and not engorged. People want to be able to comfortably enjoy the rest of the day after they eat, and not feel like they are being weighed down.

Courtesy of A Delicious Life

The restaurant industry is beginning to account for these new interests, and menus are starting to lighten up. Nevertheless, ingredients like foie gras should not be banished from menus, not even in California (see what I did there). There is still a niche for rich and decadent ingredients, but people cannot eat them on a daily or even weekly basis.

Courtesy of NY Magazine

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Apple Braised Short Rib, Roasted Red-Bliss Potatoes, Rutabaga, Broccoli, and Shitake Mushrooms

This is a very simple dish that can easily be replicated in anyone's home. I came up with this recipe on the go as I prepared this dish. First, season the short ribs with salt, pepper, and canola oil. Next, either grill the short ribs or sear them in a pan to get a lot of color. Browning meat is what gives it a deep, rich umami flavor. Then, remove the short ribs and deglaze the pan with red wine, apple cider, and apple cider vinegar. Bring this up to a boil and then add garlic, onion, carrot, celery, apple, bone marrow, salt, pepper, all spice, cinnamon, honey, and fresh thyme. Once the liquid has come up to a slow boil add the short ribs back to the pan, lower the flame, and simmer for about 3 or 4 hours until very tender. Then, remove the short ribs from the braise, and if they have bones cut them out. When you are able to handle the short ribs portion them into equal 4-6 oz portions. Next, strain the braising liquid thoroughly, and chill completely. Once chilled the fat will rise to the top, so it can be easily removed. After the fat is skimmed, heat the liquid back up and reduce it at least by half. Add the short ribs back and glaze until done. Make sure to taste for seasoning.

Meanwhile, peel and portion the rutabaga and wash the potatoes. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and add both the potatoes and rutabaga. Cook until 90% done and then drain. Also, portion the broccoli into its florets, stem, and leaves. I only used the florets today, but the stems and leaves are in my opinion better than the florets, so do not throw them out! Blanch the broccoli in salted boiling water for a couple minutes and then shock them in salted ice water. Once cooled remove from the ice water and dry. Preheat an oven to around 400 degrees. Mix together the rutabaga, potatoes, broccoli, shitake mushrooms, garlic, onions, salt, pepper, thyme, olive oil, and a little butter. Put on a baking or roasting dish and cook until the vegetables start to caramelize. Serve immediately with the short ribs. Serve the dish family style and dig in!

Everyone absolutely loved the food, and I though it was pretty good too. The short ribs had a great balance of acidity to sweetness and the vegetables were spot on. I really encourage people to try this "recipe".

I still have not invested in this camera I have talked about numerous times........

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Autism Speaks

Shortly, I will write a post about this event. I just wanted to get the pictures on my blog asap for everyone to see. If you have any questions or comments, do not be afraid to ask.

Shrimp, Citrus Variations, Compressed Cucumber

Broccoli Soup, Chorizo, Cheddar Crisp, Truffle Oil

Roasted and Raw Heirloom Beets, Bonne Bouche, Crispy Parsnip, Orange, Micro Arugula

Taro Root Encrusted Salmon, Soy Caramel, Pickled Shitakes, Sunchoke Puree, Haricot Vert, Sesame

Roasted Duck, Spaetzle, Brussels, Compressed Pear, Watermelon Radish

Caramelized Chocolate Cake, Coconut Ice Cream, Roasted Pineapple, Strawberry Marscapone, Basil, Chocolate Crumbs, Dehydrated Pineapple Core, Poprocks

Monday, October 17, 2011

Autism Speaks Event at Uproot

I would like to invite everyone to this wonderful dinner for a great cause. Please make reservations with Uproot Restaurant. Thanks in advance to anyone who attends!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Versatile Blog Award

It turns out back on June 24th I was recognized with "The Versatile Blogger Award" by Artisan at Home, who has a great blog. This means a lot to know that people actually read my blog. 

Thanks Christian!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Draft Menu Take 2

Passed Food:

Broccoli Soup, Cheddar Crisp
Shrimp, Citrus, Cucumber, Grilled Jalapeno (On Toasted Baguette)
Crispy Flat Bread, Caramelized Onion, Parmesan, Ricotta, Lemon
Steamed Buns, Pork Belly, Cucumber, Carrot

1st Course

Roasted and Raw Beets, Orange, Yogurt, Tarragon, Crispy Parsnip


Butter Poached Oyster, Celery Root Puree, Pickled Celery, Celery Leaf Pesto

2nd Course

Fresh Ravioli, Lemon Thyme Ricotta, Chorizo, Confit Cherry Tomato, Sherry Reduction, Micro Arugula


Rutabaga Soup, Confit Chicken Leg, Curry, Pickled Turnips

3rd Course

Seared Scallops, Jerusalem Artichoke Puree, Seared Maitake and Shitake Mushrooms, Tart Apple, Lemon Confit


Seared Duck Breast, Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Compressed Pear and Brussels Sprout Leaf Salad, Pear and Duck Jus

4th Course

Braised Lamb Neck, Wilted Swiss Chard, Pickled Swiss Chard Stem, Grits


Grilled Hanger Steak, Soy, Lime, Whiskey, Seared Bock Choy, Jicama Salad

5th Course

Apple Ice Cream, Dry Caramel, Spiced Peanuts, Peanut Butter Tuile

6th Course

Caramelized White Chocolate Cake, Salted Dark Chocolate Crumbs, Pineapple Sorbet, Thai Basil, Coconut Ganache

This is where the event is being held!