What inspired you to become a chef?
I caught the bug early in life having an Italian grandmother and always watching what was going on when she was in the kitchen. I can still smell all that garlic and basil.
Do you have a signature dish that best represents your culinary skills?
I done too many over the years to call any one a signature dish. But I would say the Goffle Farms Duck Breast is definitely a signature dish of the Steel Wheel Tavern. I am big into locally sourced ingredients and this dish has two. Duck comes from Goffle Farms and the Ironbound Hard Cider is the base for the sauce for the entree. Located in Alexandria, NJ they use only fresh pressed apples vs concentrate (Angry Orchard). Huge difference in flavor profile.
You recently opened the Steel Wheel in Ridgewood. How would you describe the ambience?
Creative American menu with something for everyone.
There are so many restaurants in Ridgewood. What will make the Steel Wheel unique?
Just take a look around the restaurant. The space has been completely renovated and there really is nothing else like it in Ridgewood.
How challenging was it to put the menu together?
It was a pretty long process that started back in January. It was a lot of back and forth with kicking around ideas, etc.
Do you ever peek out of the kitchen to see how people are reacting to your dishes?
Whenever I get a chance
What makes a hamburger a great hamburger?
Simple….salt and pepper. It’s all about the seasoning
How hard is it to balance cost and quality when it comes to putting a menu together?
No. You just have to really do your homework when you are sourcing products.
Are you hyper sensitive to the way you are served food from other restaurants?
To an extent I am. It’s all about customer service and satisfying the guest. As for the food end of it…I just want what I ordered. I can’t stand send a dish back to the kitchen to be remade because it should have gone out right the first time.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying out The Steel Wheel?
Come check us out. Completely renovated space and we have something for everyone…Kids too!
Interview and photos by Chaunce Hayden
Steel Wheel Tavern
51 N. Broad Street
Ridgewood, NJ 07450