Fox & Falcon’s New Chef Amps Up Local Flavors

Kris Welz draws inspiration—and super-fresh produce—from the weekly farmers' market held behind the South Orange restaurant.

Kris Welz
Chef Kris Welz recently took over as executive chef at the Fox & Falcon in South Orange. Photo courtesy of Jon Fisher

After joining the Fox & Falcon as executive chef a few months back, Kris Welz now has first-hand access to Garden State produce.

A farmers’ market is held right behind the South Orange restaurant each Wednesday, giving Welz what he needs to easily branch out with his recipes. He kept the restaurant’s signature dishes after starting his new job, but has also been excited to introduce some of his own.

“What I love about South Orange is that the guests appreciate adventurous dishes,” Welz says.

The restaurant’s contemporary American menu includes fresh pasta, burgers and crafted cocktails; there’s also a new brunch menu. The offerings draw inspiration “from everything, everywhere,” Welz says, including local vendors.

What drew you to the Fox & Falcon?
Kris Welz: I’m very familiar with the crew and David Massoni, who is the owner. We had worked together for years previously in Brooklyn and Jersey City.

What did you do prior to this new role?
I worked for STK Restaurants and I had the luxury of traveling in and out of the country to train chefs. It was a unique experience to see the industry and all the local foods in different places. It was a lot of hard work, but a tremendous growing experience as well.

Do you see a difference in Jersey customers compared to others around the country?
Here in South Orange, I get to do a lot of table touches and talk with guests. One thing I love about this area is you can stick to the classics, or we can go untraditional and everyone embraces the cuisine. We can really play with things, and the guest reactions are always fantastic. It’s super important for our creativity in the kitchen.

Did you always want to be a chef?
Growing up, my parents owned a seafood shop in Pennsylvania. Seafood is my favorite protein because I was able to see the whole process being broken down—it was a great educational experience.

My parents were really big food people, and we always had a big Sunday dinner. We had a giant garden and would just eat stuff off the vine. I was extremely spoiled as a kid to be able to run outside, put some tomatoes in my hat and come back inside. Later in life, I really had a passion for food, so becoming a chef was just something I went for.

Is the Fox & Falcon menu seasonal?
We want to drive our menu based upon the market and what’s available. Every Wednesday, there is a giant farmer’s market right behind our venue. We have one dish on our menu that is a vegetarian soba noodle dish, and we like to change up the vegetables we use. We love going to the market, and it makes our job easier to see everything there. The luxury of having all these farmers so close is a no-brainer!

Will there be anything new this fall?
We’re talking with purveyors and farmers to see what will be available in September and October. It’s great to have that kind of relationship with farmers and say, “Hey, this is something we’d like to do,” and we can make things happen. We are working on making our pasta game strong here. We also have a wonderful pastry chef, Michael, who has curated the menu based on availability. Right now we have a Prosecco float with berries and blood orange sorbet, which is so refreshing.

What are you hoping to bring to South Orange?
I want all our guests and future guests to know that we love cooking and hospitality. Our goal is to curate a great menu and be a place you can come to at any time to enjoy yourself, whether that be a business meeting or having a beer with friends.

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