Finding A More Personal Holiday Party Spot

Looking for an intimate, casual, chic spot for your holiday gathering? Young entrepreneurs Sam Fertik and Aaron Nemani of Orange and Olive Caterers have just the thing.

Fertik and Nemani, both 24, have just completed an especially attractive catering space in the Heights section of Jersey City. It’s more than a space, it’s a concept as well.

They call it Chef’s Table. The setting is simple but winning. The focus is all on the food.

They have been friends since elementary school in East Brunswick. As teenagers, Fertik worked in various local kitchens before earning a degree at the Culinary Institute of America. Nemani always worked on the service side, and received a degree in hospitality management from East Stroudsberg University in Pennsylvania.

Fertik cooked in several Manhattan restaurants and served as executive chef at Tula in New Brunswick. Nemani honed his front-of-the-house skills at a number of area golf and country clubs. In 2011, they decided to combine their talents and create their own catering company.

Orange and Olive recently moved into a storefront in the Heights, where they built a top-of-the-line commercial kitchen and a hip-rustic party space–that’s Chef’s Table–that can accommodate up to 60 or 70 guests for cocktail parties or 12 to 20 people seated for dinner at a 17-foot-long wood table hand-crafted by Fertik.

Jersey City’s renaissance has taken place mostly downtown, near City Hall and the Hudson River, not in the Heights, which literally rides the crest of a big hill, a north-south ridge that starts a mile or two west of the river.

"The Heights is a great emerging neighborhood," says Fertik. "With its proximity to New York city and other cities in Jersey it was a great choice."

They call the décor “industrial chic.” It includes one-of-a-kind touches like lighting made from 100-year-old hand-hammered wash basins. “We tried to pay attention to every little detail, without making it pretentious,” says Fertik.

The key to the flow is that “the open kitchen is literally four feet from the table, so you see everything,” Fertik says.

Whether you are a party of one, two or a few and would like to join others at the communal table or are a group booking the entire 2,500-square-foot space, reservations for each of the two nightly seatings can be made online.

“You go to the website calendar and choose when you want to come, like you are buying a ticket to the theater,” Fertik explains. “Everything is paid in advance, including tax and gratuity, so it’s great if you want to take someone out. It keeps the experience pure.”

Chef’s Table dinners can be scheduled Wednesdays through Saturdays. They are BYO and begin at $110 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Booking the entire space for a private event requires 20 guests, starts at the same price and can be booked any night.

The space can also be booked for cocktail parties of up to 70 people (any night). These start at $29 per person—BYO, or Orange and Olive can buy liquor from a third party provider.

From dishes like butter-poached Maine lobster with lemon gelee and brown butter sabayon to brûléed local ricotta with truffle honey and currant compote, every step of the preparation is part of the show. The food is presented on Fertik’s personal collection of new and vintage serving pieces.

“We’re doing it in a modern way," he says, "with passion and creativity, without going over the top.”

Chef’s Table at
Orange and Olive Caterers

398 Central Avenue
Jersey City
866-247-2520
orangeandolivecaterers.com

 

SUZANNE ZIMMER LOWERY is a food writer, pastry chef and culinary instructor at a number of New Jersey cooking schools. Find out more about her at suzannelowery.com.

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