In just a few days, we are launching our annual Food and Wine Week 2015. We are so thrilled to bring you the best-curated foods and wines from around the world. As always, SJ Hot Chefs has partnered with our member restaurants to bring you a once in a lifetime experience.
We wanted to highlight one of our incredible restaurants, Redz. We sat down for an interview recently with Chef Loeffler to talk all things food and wine.
SJ: Chef Loeffler what inspired you to become a Chef?
CL: I was traveling as a kid all over western Europe and loved the ethnic food from different countries. I used to order items that were prepared table-side, so I could learn how to make them back at home later.
Food is the one constant in the world; it’s everywhere. Eating is a perfect excuse to be with family and friends. You know, as a chef, I get to create these euphoric moments of celebration, adding new traditions to people’s lives. Seeing the smiles on my guests’, it’s the best reward, and I live for it.
SJ: What are some of the inspirations for the menu at Redz?
CL: The owner wanted a new American cuisine in his renovated restaurant. I presented him with clean flavors from the heart of Americana cuisine, old and new. Every season we change our menu so that we can use only the very best local products. Our commitment at Redz is living locally, and sustainability. That’s why we use organic products, and wild caught fish and meat.
SJ: If you could recommend some wines for your meals what would they be?
CL: For starters, our Onion pancake topped with artichoke mousse smoked salmon and quail egg is one of the best tasting and unique dishes this side of the Atlantic. I recommend a Sauvignon blanc from the Valenzano Winery.
We also serve Ahi Tuna Lemon Mytel, rubbed and seared over local micro greens and avocado carpaccio. I always pair this with a semi-dry Chardonnay from the Cape May region.
We’ve also cooked up an excellent Herb Crusted Lancaster Lamb Rack with white corn flan, grilled radicchio, honey truffle black baby carrots and stone ground mustard and Boston ale essence. I highly recommend pairing this with a Pinot Noir from the Berenato Winery.
Wild Caught Alaskan Halibut pan seared over Vermont Maple couscous, topped with carrot-apple-raisin chutney, and Maine lobster stuffed zucchini blossom served with semi-sweet Riesling from the Harrison Winery.
SJ: You’ve been cooking around the world for over three decades. What draws you to New Jersey?
CL: It’s true! [Laughs] I have been cooking all over the globe. I’ve cooked in Germany, all areas of the Swiss Mountains, the Côte d’Azur in Monte Carlo, in Orleans outside Paris, the Caribbean, to name just a few! I won’t lie, Jersey does have the best weather, but maybe love and family have a lot to do with it as well. They don’t call New Jersey the Garden state for nothing, as a Chef I’ve got access to some of the best produce, seafood, and meat in America.
SJ: What are some of your favorite fall cocktails and meals to make at home?
CL: I don’t have a ton of time, but I love getting together with friends and family to celebrate good food. I’d start off by making a pot of spiced Apple Cider, (Star Anis, cinnamon, cloves, sliced ginger, juniper berries and orange slice.) After a snack with Burgundy wine, I’d serve Root Vegetable Bisque with chilled Vodka and pretzel sticks.
For dinner, I’d serve Venison loin with a lingonberry sauce and a side of smoked Bacon Brussel sprouts. Garnished with Arancini made with wild mushroom risotto. One of my favorite drinks is a hot grog ( dry red wine, black tea, and rock sugar with a splash of brandy. White chocolate rice pudding terrine layered with Doubletree cookies and pear puree served with a chilled Raspberry Schnapps (sorry I’m German and that’s how we end a meal)
SJ: This is your first year participating in Food and Wine Week?
CL: Yes! We are just celebrating our one year anniversary!
SJ: Congrats! What local winery are you going to be using?
CL: We are working on several local wineries to join us for a wine tasting, but for sure we will have great local wines throughout out the week paired with our food.
SJ: You talk a lot about teamwork, what’s your key to keeping your team happy and engaged?
CL: Traveling around the world and working with people from different cultures, I’ve learned a bit about dignity. You have to get to the heart of every member on your team when you respect them like that; you’ve made a friend for life. I try and always treat everyone the way I would want to be treated, and I train every team member and build them up for success, involving them in everything I do.
Chef Mirko Loeffler has a palate from Heaven. We promise you one thing, you’ll want to stop by his restaurant for SJ Hot Chefs Food and Wine Week, he’ll change the way you see food.
Food and Wine Week kicks off in just a few short days, Head over to SJHotChefs.com to make a reservation at any of our fantastic restaurants! We can’t wait to see you next week!