Chris Cannon, owner of Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen in Morristown, a perennial on the New Jersey Monthly Top 30 list, has chosen Joe Mooney to lead the kitchen at the large and multifaceted operation Cannon opened in the former Vail Mansion in 2014.
Mooney, 33, a Trenton native (and still resident), rose through the ranks of Scott Anderson’s Elements in Princeton (another NJ Monthly Top 30). He then launched, downstairs from Elements and part of the same company, the more casual Mistral, known for its vivacious small plates and Asian and Mediterranean influences.
“I wanted a Jersey chef, a person who’s been in the marketplace an extended time at a place known for its cooking,” says Cannon, whose previous chef moved out of the region over the winter to be closer to family. “Mistral has always been one of my favorite restaurants in New Jersey. It has a creative and dynamic menu, and Joe is ready to move up to a larger operation. He’s highly motivated and has the necessary culinary chops.”
“I went through two headhunters, hired one guy who changed his mind, and went through another bunch of guys,” Cannon continues. “I was finally so frustrated, I posted a Facebook page with a picture of the Muppets chef captioned, ‘Please help me, or I’ll be serving souvlaki soon!’ And four hours later, Joe sent me an email.”
JHBK, as Jockey Hollow is known, has been closed for several months but will reopen May 26. Much larger than Mistral, it has four different seating areas on three levels, plus an outdoor space. It hosts special events, private parties—there are a lot of moving parts. Mooney joins the team on June 9.
“I think with an operation this size, I’m going to rely on my sous chefs a lot,” says Mooney. “There are as many as 20 cooks there; the operation is massive. It’ll take a little time to get my bearings. They are already renowned, but we share the same principles—get the best local ingredients, and let them speak for themselves.”
“I never had the opportunity to do a tasting menu at Mistral, but I will eventually do one at Jockey Hollow,” Mooney remarks. “With a tasting menu, the chef can really guide you and take you on a journey. I’m looking forward to that.”Click here to leave a comment