Like many chefs worth their salt, I started my culinary journey at my mother’s knee. Many of my fondest childhood memories involved cooking at home as a kid: Earning a Cub Scout merit badge for cooking; making my parents jealous by cooking a fancy dinner for my brothers (but not for them); having dates come over and make fudge or other sweet delights; our annual Christmas cookie baking marathon.
Despite these memories, a culinary career was never seriously considered, and off to college I went with a vague idea of being a Chemical Engineer. I admit that I had no idea what a Chemical Engineer really did, but I liked both math and chemistry, so it seemed like a good idea at the time. Instead, I changed my major to partying. When I graduated from college, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life.
I might have continued to flounder, until a serendipitous meeting at a lunch counter after a dentist appointment. A family friend started showing my mother pictures of his son, who was attending culinary school. I didn’t even know they existed! Anyway, he was showing pictures of the culinary creations that his son had created. My mother didn’t think I was interested, but I was! On the way home, I told my mother that I thought that might be a good career path for me as well. She replied, “Let’s see what your father thinks when he gets home.”
That afternoon, I thought he would never get home! When he finally walked in the door, I didn’t even let him take off his coat before describing our meeting, and seeking his opinion. He didn’t hesitate: “I always thought you should have gone to Cornell”. Well….that took care of that! As they say, “The rest is history”, and by September I was enrolled at The Restaurant School in Philadelphia.
Almost twenty years later, I finally realized my dream of opening my own restaurant, Dan’s on Main. For 8½ years, we fed Metuchen proudly, offering an eclectic mix of dishes that were considered creative and innovative. Consistently boasting the best overall scores in Metuchen in the Zagat survey, people were also attracted to Dan's because of its atmosphere, which was grown-up but casual.
After selling Dan’s on Main, I was fortunate to work for Princeton University. I was hired to set up, and then run, the University’s newest dining facility. Feeding the leaders of tomorrow presented a different culinary challenge, which became a lot of fun. Instead of trying to come up with innovative and cutting-edge recipes, my focus was coming up with new station concepts. The crowning achievement was creating a made-to-order breakfast burrito station – which nearly doubled our overall sales for Saturday brunch. (Yes, you can get Breakfast Burritos at Pearl St. Café).
And that lead to my latest creation, Pearl St. Café. Pearl St. Café is committed to making everything the very best that it can be, every day. We make everything from scratch, and in-house. We will brine, cure, and smoke our own Pastrami. We will make our own bacon (my wife craves my candied bacon!), grind our own hamburger meat, and even make our own ketchup. Who else around here has this passion and commitment to quality? I guarantee our sandwiches will be the best you ever had! They will be the stuff that dreams are built on. You know the kind: where the juices run down your chin, and you can’t help but wipe your mouth with your sleeve. But don’t worry – we’ll give you extra napkins!
That’s what Pearl St. Café is all about: Comfort foods, Fun foods – made as well as possible, without any pretense. All in a casual setting with warm and friendly service, Pearl St. Café is the kind of place you always wished Metuchen had. Well, come in and find that Metuchen has that now. You’ll find yourself coming again, and again – and telling your friends about us!
And, don’t forget, if you can’t come to the restaurant, we’ll come to you. Take-out and delivery are always available. Really, what could be better? It’s the best of all worlds!
Hope to see you soon (and often)!