Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Coffee with the Chef: Jeff Kellish

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Coffee with the Chef: Jeff Kellish

Article excerpt

Park Steakhouse, Park Ridge

When chef Jeff Kellish was a child, working in the kitchen at Sid Allen's -- the Englewood Cliffs restaurant his mother kept the books for -- was used as a punishment when he or his siblings misbehaved. Decades later, the 59-year-old chef de cuisine of the Park Steakhouse in Park Ridge has made the kitchen his second home.

Kellish, who graduated from Teaneck High School and today lives in Park Ridge, has no formal education in cooking, instead electing to learn on the job; he spent three-and-a-half years at Sid Allen's and 17 as executive chef at Valentino's (also in Park Ridge) before coming to the Park Steakhouse 10 years ago.

Here, he talks about changing menus, fly fishing, and his secret love for cider doughnuts.

The best place to grocery shop in North Jersey: DePiero's Country Farm in Montvale. It's kind of a one-stop place -- they've got a bakery, a fish market and a butcher.

What diners don't know about professional kitchens: The amount of prep work that goes on all day. If you're doing 80 dinners, you have to be prepped for 100 just in case.

The worst thing a waiter can do: You can't refuse a customer or any request, as long as it's within reason. And you can't argue with the customer. They can get anything they want, as long as we have it and can do it in a reasonable amount of time.

The best way to determine the quality of a restaurant: When my wife and I go out, the first thing she does is look at the doors, the windows, the mirrors, the menus; anything that can get dirty. It's about the cleanliness of the place when you walk in.

Home cooks should: Make their own stock -- it's the reason sauces at most restaurants are so good. Home cooks don't often have the time, but it is 100 times better.

I am really good at cooking: Any kind of seafood dish. I'm the one who does all the seafood here. I've been an avid fisherman for a long time, and my father and grandfather ran charter boats out of Miami for a long time. …

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