On May 4-6, more than 1,500 spectators flocked to the New Jersey Wine and Food Festival at Sussex County’s Crystal Springs Resort. They came to taste the best in award-winning cuisine, and in the middle of it all they found Joe Gramaglia, owner and Executive Chef at Warren’s own Saly Gs Restaurant and Tavern!
“This was a tremendous opportunity for me as a chef, and as someone who never had formal culinary training,” Joe says. “I got to work alongside some of the best chefs in the world. What an inspiration to watch them work – it really reinforces the idea that as chefs, we’re always learning and there are always new things to try.”
Joe spent the weekend in a non-stop cooking frenzy, preparing over 1,000 plates in all. The highlight, he says, was the May 5th Garden State Culinary Throw down – a “Chopped” style competition that saw Joe take second place, missing the top spot by only one vote!
For the throw down, he was given five ingredients: stinging nettles, ramps, peanut potatoes, mixed baby carrots, and mushrooms. He was then tasked with coming up with an on-the-spot delicacy. Joe’s creation was a Fancy Toast with nettle and walnut pesto, charred ramps, peanut potato and onion hash, mushroom and truffle ricotta and crispy carrots.
He got the chance to flex his culinary muscle even more at the 7 p.m. “Grand Tasting” main event that evening, when he paid tribute to his family’s Italian heritage with a Piedmontese Beef Tartare (the Piedmont being a breed of cattle that originated in the Piedmont region of northern Italy). The entrée featured a lemon caviar with blackened sea salt, parmesan, and organic egg yolk served in the tartare over crostini.
Throughout the weekend, the chefs were mentored by Chefs Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller - “two of the best in the world,” Joe says. All food for the events was donated by Fossil Farms of Boonton.
“It was a wonderful experience to be involved and have the opportunity to represent the town of Warren,” he adds. “I got to meet and work with the chefs who make the New Jersey food scene what it is. This was really an honor, and a weekend I won’t forget.”
Warren residents know the Gramaglia name means outstanding food.
For more than seven years, Saly Gs has greeted guests looking for a unique, top-flight dining experience in the Pheasant Run Shopping Center. “Fine dining, white tablecloths, and an absolute commitment to customer satisfaction,” is how he described it in an interview for TheShowcase Magazine last year. The restaurant has been an Open Table Diners’ Choice Winner, and carries on the Gramaglia family tradition of amazing food in welcoming, family-style atmospheres.
Joe learned to cook the old-fashioned way – from his Italian mother and father. He studied cookbooks and absorbed as much as he could from watching cooking shows on TV, but the firsthand experience alongside his parents ultimately molded him into the professional he is today.
The Showcase Magazine congratulates Joe on his outstanding performance at this prestigious New Jersey event!