Jean-Georges Vongerichten, one of the world’s most famous chefs, is coming to Englewood.
Vongerichten, who has opened 60 restaurants worldwide and earned numerous culinary awards, is planning to move into the space that had housed the Shoe Inn on Dean Street.
“It’s a real feather in Englewood’s cap, the region and the county,” said Michael Wildes, the mayor of Englewood.
The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, Wildes said. Construction has not begun yet, but turning a shoe store into a swanky all-day restaurant, will require major renovation, he noted.
Vongerichten could not be reached for comment.
Wildes, an immigration lawyer, said that the planning board had approved Vongerichten’s plan a year ago, but that he had to recuse himself from the deliberations because, it turns out, he was Vongerichten’s immigration lawyer. Vongerichten, who was born and raised in Alsace, France, came to New York City in 1986. “He jumped up like a little boy when he got his citizenship,” Wildes said. “It was so lovely.”
That French immigrant would go on to open restaurants, first in Manhattan, and eventually around the world, that had critics and diners swooning.
In New York City, he introduced diners to Thai-inspired Asian cuisine at his first restaurant, Vong, which received a Michelin star and closed after a 15-year run. (It is the restaurant where this reporter was introduced to peppercorn ice cream and for a time was her favorite NYC restaurant.)
He went on to open a bunch more restaurants including Mercer Kitchen, Spice Market, JoJo (it’s housed in an elegant townhouse, a favorite of this reporter); Jean-Georges (housed in Trump Tower on Central Park West); ABCV (a fabulous vegetarian restaurant that’s terrific whether you do or don’t eat meat); The Fulton (a seafood restaurant in the Seaport District) and recently the Tin Building (a food hall under the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge).
In 2014, he ventured into the suburbs of New York City by opening the Inn at Pound Ridge in Westchester County.
Vongerichten claims to have invented chocolate lava cake in New York City, though chocolatier Jacques Torres disputes him. Among his signature dishes: egg caviar, scrambled eggs topped with a dollop of caviar, presented inside an egg shell), lobster tartine and garlic soup with sautéed frog legs.
Vongerichten has published several cookbooks, received a number of Michelin stars and has won six James Beard awards including Outstanding Chef (1998), Best New Restaurant (2005) and Outstanding Restaurant (2009).
A 2020 profile in the New York Times said that “no chef working in America is quite his equal. Many, like him, have created multiple restaurants. A very few, like him, are considered among the best. Even fewer are both. Mr. Vongerichten is able to do more, and he is able to do it better, his style augmented by extraordinary open-mindedness, a willingness to embrace the local culture wherever he might be.”
And now he is set to embrace North Jersey.
“Everyone knows that Englewood is the capital of this region,” Wildes said. “We just made Englewood more delicious to eat in.”