Two Well-Loved Restaurants Welcome New Chefs

Staff changes for the Ebbitt Room in Cape May; Rats in Hamilton.

Two seasoned chefs are taking charge of the kitchens at two of New Jersey’s best-known restaurants—just in time for the peak season of summer eating.

In Mercer County:
Ed Crochet has been named executive chef at Rat’s Restaurant at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton by its owner-operator, Starr Catering Group, the renowned Philadelphia-based hospitality enterprise. Crochet will oversee all of Grounds For Sculpture’s food services in his new role.

A graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine, Crochet worked in the kitchens of Tom Colicchio’s Colicchio & Sons and Craft before joining the Starr team at Caffe Storico. Chef Crochet’s menu will be inspired by his travels to Italy, make use of seasonal ingredients, and feature vegetable-forward dishes.

Rat’s, known for its unique setting within the 42-acre sculpture park, was conceived with a nod to Claude Monet’s Giverny by sculptor Seward Johnson. It is named after the gregarious character “Ratty” from the children’s book, Wind in the Willows.

Rat’s is located at 16 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton. For information and reservations, call 609-584-7800 or visit

In Cape May County:
Chef Jason Hanin has been named executive chef of the Ebbitt Room, the popular restaurant at the Virginia Hotel in Cape May.

For Hanin, it’s a return to the restaurant family of Cape Resorts, for which he cooked as executive chef at Chelsea Prime in Atlantic City. Hanin’s menu will make use of the produce and animal products grown and raised at Beach Plum Farm, the 62-acre farm in West Cape May associated with the organization.

The chef’s new summer menu will include Summer Pea Toast, with sugar snap peas, ricotta, mint and lavender; rainbow trout with shaved vegetables; Wild Alaskan halibut with garlic spinach, lemon confit and citrus-umami broth; and Beach Plum pork chop with bacon, wilted greens and a cherry compote.

The Ebbitt Room is located at 25 Jackson Street, Cape May. For information and reservations, call 609-884-5700 or visit

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