Chef Bryan Gregg, who in 2020 earned three stars from NJM at Café Chameleon in Bloomingdale, is bringing his Southern expertise to a seafood-centric eatery. Located in Morristown’s Westin Hotel, Blue Morel reopened in early October following a pandemic-prompted closure.
Gregg says he hopes to make micro-changes to his menu throughout the year, rather than changing it once a season.
“It’s an evolving menu that’s going to really focus on what ingredients are available right then and there,” says Gregg. “We want the best quality of what we can get to put on the plate.”
What drew you to Blue Morel?
Bryan Gregg: Thomas Ciszak [in charge of food operations at Blue Morel and the Westin] has been a really good friend of mine for a number of years, and we’ve always talked about doing projects together. He told me about an opportunity here, and I jumped at it because Morristown is a comfort area for me and a lot of my client base is around this area. It also got me involved in a hotel setting, which I’ve been wanting to do for a while.
What have you been doing to prepare for reopening?
A lot of menu tastings and development. We opened the bar menu pretty quickly, and it was open prior to the dining room. We had a soft open for hotel guests, which gave us a chance to see what people were wanting and build our dining room menu around that.
How is this job different from past posts?
It’s more of a managerial side of me. I’m looking to try to get into overseeing things a bit more. It’s great to be a mentor and lead our team to get them excited about the food and things like that.
What changes are you making to the Blue Morel menu?
Our style here isn’t drastically changing, but my style is a little more comforting and relaxed. I try to keep things simple and introduce really cool flavors.
We’re keeping the crab cakes because that’s definitely the norm here. Our menu is evolving and we’ll be doing a lot of changes to fit the seasons. I’m not a big fan of just changing the menu four times a year, so there’ll be a lot of micro-changes.
Tell me about a couple of featured dishes.
We’re always offering my burger, which is a staple I’ve been running forever. We will always have some sort of scallop dish. We’re doing a lot of dry aging in-house with our meats, and some charcuterie work as well. We’re going to be very focused on seafood, both in appetizer and entrees.
What’s the competition?
Competition in the area is going to be Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen and David Burke’s new place, 1776, that just opened up. I’m close with Joe Mooney at Jockey Hollow and really like what they’re doing over there, and we’re doing the same kind of concept.
What are you hoping to bring to the Morristown community?
We’re trying to introduce something a little bit different. My roots of cooking are more of a Southern style, so we’re trying to introduce more of a Southern aspect into our food. There’s not a lot of people doing that around here, dealing with simple, rustic ingredients, but in a really elegant style.