Chef Chat: Tomatoes, Part II

Three more Jersey chefs weigh in on the versatility of tomatoes.

The Garden State’s 2017 crop of tomatoes is peaking right now. That’s a bit later than usual, many farmers are saying.

For chefs, New Jersey’s favorite fruit-eaten-as-vegetable is always welcome in their restaurant kitchens. Last Wednesday, Chris Mumford of Mumford’s Culinary Center in Tinton Falls, and Meghan Cattani of Cattani’s Catering and Kitchen in Ewing, shared  tomato recipes with us. Today, three more leading chefs in New Jersey tell their tales in Chef Chat: Tomatoes, Part II.


Christopher Albrecht, executive chef at Ryland Inn, 115 Old Highway 28 (just off Route 22 West), Whitehouse Station. 908-534-4011;

Chris Albrecht buys tomatoes from Garden State farms, but also grows his own in Ryland’s backyard farm. “The defining and newest varieties are being cultivated on the property, from seeds that we purchased. Many of the seeds came from Wild Boar Farms in Napa California, where seed breeder Brad Gates, breeds tomatoes for radical color and extreme flavor (”

To name a handful: Dark Queen, Hailey’s Purple Comet, Pineapple Pig, Red Furry Boar, Summer of Love, Blue Chocolate, Berkeley Tie Die, Purple Bumblebee, Brad’s Atomic Grape, Indigo Apple, Mortgage Lifter and White Cherry.

What is Albrecht and his kitchen crew doing with the bounty?

“For weddings, we are offering an heirloom tomato salad that is bursting with flavor and simply dressed with fried capers, four varieties of basil from our garden, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and Champagne vinegar—letting the unique flavor, color and texture be the star of the plate.

“In the dining room, we have three preparations that feature tomatoes: blue tomatoes, spiced blueberry puree, ‘cottage mozzarella,’ pink peppercorns and both fino verde and opal basil; lobster, mushroom-and-sausage-risotto-stuffed tomatoes (as a bar snack); smoked ‘Summer of Love’ gazpacho, with a vodka or tequila shooter (mezcal, if you are really hip!), and lobster and tomato ‘cocktail,’ called Afternoon Delight, with lime juice, lime basil, ginger, roasted yellow peppers and California arbequina olive oil.”


Antony Bustamante, executive chef at Barrio Costero, 610 Bangs Avenue in Asbury Park. 732-455-5544;

Antony Bustamante’s very personal take on modern Mexican cuisine makes the most of the tomato. He loves working with his kitchen crew to develop recipes that respect the micro seasons.

In fact, recently he sat with his staff for “a couple hours and threw ideas around and ended up with a pretty interesting but simple dish…using three types of (the) Jersey tomato: mediums, heirlooms and Sun Golds. It’s…an heirloom wedge salad (with) Jersey corn and Sun Gold aguachili, housemade smoked tomato crema, arugula, cioppolini, achiote croutons, candied jalapeno and Jersey female squash.

“I personally think that a Jersey tomato is perfect on its own. Adding a few essential Mexican flavors, and twisting the palate back and forth from what we know about a Jersey tomato, (gives) your palate a different destination of our tomato.”


Laercio “Junior” Chamon Jr., chef-owner of Graze, 151 Markham Place in Little Silver. 732-747-9988;

Junior Chamon points to a couple of seasonal items on his globally influenced menu that puts tomatoes in the spotlight.

“Sun Gold tomato panzanella with pepper crouton and housemade ricotta, red onion, chili oil, popcorn shorts and Bull’s Blood micros” is a full-flavored salad.

“Local bluefin tuna tartate with Jersey cherry tomatoes, basil mayonnaise, curry oil and gaufrettes” is a bright and bold entree.

Take a look right here to check out Chamon’s handiwork with tomatoes.


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