NJ Chefs Reveal Their New Year’s Resolutions

More: mentorship, mountain biking and meaningful toasts. Less: control, carbs and non-edible cocktail garnishes.

Chef writing in notebook in kitchen
Photo: Shutterstock/Friends Stock

Some of our state’s top restaurateurs reveal how they plan to feed their souls in 2024. 

[RELATED: How 5 Top New Jersey Chefs Stay Fit, Even Around All That Food]

David Goldstein President, Professional Chefs Association of South Jersey

“My resolution is to help chefs take time for themselves. We’re perpetually busy cooking, managing, dealing with whatever comes up. And we’ve got families, too. Every chef must take moments to reflect and to steady ourselves and others. When you find that life balance, your best work emerges.”

Geraldine Keogh Founder/CEO, The Dessert Ladies and Biens Chocolate Centerpieces

“In 2024, I’m doubling down on my commitment to community organizations. I serve on the board of several children’s charities, and my businesses support local causes and philanthropies. I donate my time to St. John’s Soup Kitchen in Newark, where anyone can volunteer. If you can’t give time, give stuff. Immigrant families new to New Jersey are in dire need of winter clothes, coats, shoes, kids’ backpacks. Kindness counts.”
The Dessert Ladies, 266 Main Avenue, Stirling; 908-340-7321

Brian Webber • Culinary director, David Burke Hospitality Management, statewide

“Our restaurants’ resolution is to source even more foodstuffs from the Garden State: seafood, poultry, meat, vegetables, bread, wine. We’re also really jazzed about a new mentorship program at David Burke Hospitality Management. We’re going to train aspiring Jersey chefs who can’t afford culinary school. They’ll learn hospitality through and through by apprenticing in every aspect of restaurant work. We’re so excited about this.

My personal resolution is to become a true-blue Jerseyan; I grew up over the New York border. My Avenel-raised wife Dana and I bought a house in Freehold, a cool town and my proud new home.”

[RELATED: How to Effectively Make and Tackle New Year’s Resolutions]

Charles Rosen • Founder, Ironbound Farm and Ciderhouse, Asbury

“This year I’m continuing to work toward a simpler, healthier model of living based on reciprocal love, support and effort. The only social structure that works is a community. People may call me an idealist, but I’m a realist. I can say this because Ironbound Farm, a regenerative community, works. Everyone here feels connected to the earth, the animals and to one another.”
Ironbound Farm and Ciderhouse, 360 County Road 579, Asbury; 908-940-4115

Ingrid Wright • Executive chef, Mercado Montclair

“Sadly, in 2023 I lost two good friends to suicide. People today feel more alone than ever. We’re losing our human connection. Texting and Facebook are not real friendships. We hardly even catch up on the phone anymore. My resolution is to connect more genuinely and in person with the people in my life.”
Mercado Montclair, 605 Valley Road, Montclair; 973-746-5666

Elaine Castro and Cédric Hosy • Owners, Chocolatine Patisserie & Viennoiserie, Denville

“Our wish is to continue offering a French cultural tradition—fresh pastries—and a warm, welcoming mood. We know we’re succeeding, because our customers break into big smiles the moment they set foot in Chocolatine. That makes us feel good.”
Chocolatine, 21 East Main Street, Denville; 973-437-2839

Robert Levenson • Executive chef, Resorts Casino Hotel, Atlantic City

“The new year is a time for me to focus on my mission: to provide diners with elevated food, service and atmosphere. This can happen only with a committed and content staff, so I’ve resolved to spend more time with mine: being there for them, mentoring them; understanding and easing their challenges.

Personally, I’ll continue my wellness journey and get stronger and healthier. I want to feel great and give my family and my crew my very best.”
Resorts Casino Hotel, 1133 Boardwalk, Atlantic City; 609-340-6300

Andrew Mercado Chef/owner, F.E.D. By Chef Andrew Mercado, Stockton

“My dream is to raise chickens like my grandma did in Puerto Rico. It’s actually a practical idea, because my wife, Shannon, a baker, goes through lots of eggs.

In 2024, Shannon and I are opening our own restaurant, D’Serve, in Flemington. For inspiration, we hope to visit numerous Michelin-starred restaurants in the U.S. We’ll find out what excellence means and enjoy some deluxe date nights.”
F.E.D. By Chef Andrew Mercado; 914-467-9327

Anthony Bucco Senior vice president of culinary operations, Landmark Hospitality, statewide

“My wishes for 2024: Please, no more artificial truffle flavors in oils, seasonings, sauces. Let’s lose the non-edible cocktail garnishes. And I’d love to see a late-night dining culture emerge so hospitality pros just coming off work aren’t relegated to chowing down in gas stations after 10 pm. On an industry-wide level, we must focus on mentoring the next generation of New Jersey top toques.”

David Seo Co-chef/owner, Shumi, Leonia

“My resolution is to share my passion for opera with Shumi’s diners. Opera is like sushi: If you love it, you can’t get enough of it. So I’m introducing Shumi Operakase, a monthly dinner with a spectacular Metropolitan Opera performance on our big screen. Our next Shumi Operakase is on February 12, 2024.”
Shumi, 354 Broad Avenue, Leonia; 201-272-6577

Leia Gaccione • Chef/owner, South+Pine American Eatery, Morristown

“This year I’ll continue my wellness journey, get stronger and stay consistent with my nutrition. I’m making my mental health a priority and feeding my brain. I want to read one book a month; I love true crime and thrillers. I’ll hear more live music. Get into NYC more. Try more new restaurants. Do more yoga. And stop waiting for a special occasion to wear a new dress.”
South+Pine American Eatery, 90 South Street, Morristown; 862-260-9700

Jamie Knott Chef/owner, Saddle River Inn, Saddle River; Saddle River Café, Saddle River; Madame, Jersey City; Cellar 335, Jersey City; Kinjo, Newark 

“My No. 1 New Year’s resolution for 2024 is to focus on my state of fitness. I started working out relatively recently. I have a personal trainer and am at the gym every day at 9 am. I eat less carbs, especially sugar, and more protein. This physical journey somehow manifests spiritually. It’s changing the way I feel about everything; I feel less stressed and I’m liking the way I look. 2024 is going to be the year of the rat—the gym rat.”
Saddle River Inn, 2 Barnstable Court, Saddle River; 201-825-4016. Saddle River Cafe, 171 East Saddle River Road, Saddle River; 201-282-2300. Madame, 390 4th Street, Jersey City; 201-876-8800. Cellar 335, 335 Newark Avenue, Jersey City; 201-222-1422. Kinjo, 159 Washington Street, Newark; 973-944-2828

Michael Cetrulo Chef/owner, Scalini Fedeli, Chatham

“My New Year’s resolution has been the same for years: lighten up on being a total control person. I’m a classic workaholic, and I must learn to delegate more and spend less time at the restaurants. The big picture is to appreciate what God has given me and my family, and spend more time with them.”
63 Main Street, Chatham; 973-701-9200 

Hank Reed Chef/general manager, Mazur Cafe & Chocolate Lab, Hackettstown

“Well, I live in the moment. Every day is a fresh opportunity. I make a daily resolution to perform one act of kindness, a small gesture that comes from the heart—a compliment, help loading grocery bags, even simply a bright smile to a stranger. Honestly, when I wake up, just knowing I’ll have a daily moment of grace reaching out to someone helps me attack my day.”
106 East Moore Street, Hackettstown; 908-269-8064

Anthony DeVanzo • Chef/owner, Bici, Ramsey

“My New Year’s resolution is to keep finding time to get my leg over the saddle of my mountain bike and put in some miles on the trail. Nothing frees my mind like a ride in the crisp winter air with some buddies and a hard-packed trail below my tires. It’s not only a blast, but it also allows me to enjoy that extra serving of pasta or a bit more dessert.”
61 East Main Street, Ramsey; 201-962-9015

Brendan Ullmann Co-chef/owner, The Circle, Fredon

“My top resolution is to keep growing as a business. To expand the food culture that The Circle brought to Sussex County and offer new experiences to diners—such as building a fireside bar in our 1720 farmhouse, bringing live music to our 36-seat wraparound deck and inviting guest chefs for wine dinners.”
310 NJ-94, Fredon; 973-862-6410

Anna Altieri Executive chef, Spiegelworld Corporate, Atlantic City and Las Vegas

“My New Year’s resolution is to practice becoming a fantastic toaster. I don’t mean as in ‘toast and butter,’ but as in, ‘Let’s raise a glass.’ There’s nothing more impressive to me than someone who’s able to produce a meaningful and concise tribute. I don’t want toasting to become a dying art, because it’s the cherry on top of any great dinner party.”
Superfrico at The Hook by Spiegelworld, Caesars Atlantic City Hotel & Casino, 2100 Pacific Avenue; 888-966-0404

Seadon Shouse  Executive chef, Halifax, Hoboken; managing partner, Little Bar, Hoboken

“This year I want to continue to diversify our menus to keep them exciting for diners. For one thing, I’d like to expand our ‘seacharcuterie’ items at Halifax and Little Bar. This is house-made charcuterie with fish, like swordfish mortadella or tuna prosciutto. Another project is broadening our preserved, cured, dried, smoked and brined bites at Halifax and Little Bar. I’m already testing new recipes for smoked mussels, trout, salmon and pollock.”
Halifax at the W Hotel, 225 River Street, Hoboken; 201-253-2500. Little Bar, 1401 Hudson Street, Hoboken; 201-300-1113

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