Chef Christian Graciano
In my late twenties, after working at a distribution center for 8 years, I decided to follow my dream of becoming a chef, and attended The Institute of Culinary Education in NYC, where I was fortunate enough to study under Chef Alex Guarnaschelli from the Food Network.
After graduating in 2003, I began an internship at Hamilton’s Grill Room in Lambertville, NJ. Hamilton’s is a unique upscale restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine, and has been a “must-visit” restaurant since its establishment in 1988. I was privileged to be hired as Sous Chef, which gave me the opportunity to assist with seasonal menu planning and interact with patrons while cooking in the open kitchen and wood burning grill and oven in the dining room.
After a few years I made the decision to position myself for new growth opportunities by joining corporately-owned Big Fish, a Landry’s restaurant. I worked as a Sous Chef for less than a year before being promoted to Executive Chef. There I sharpened my management skills through the challenges of overseeing all kitchen operations and supervising a team in a high-volume setting.
That brought me to the Witherspoon Grill, a classic American steakhouse in Princeton, NJ. Famous for its history, high-end stores, restaurants, and college town street life. Witherspoon is located right in the center of primary dining and shopping destination in downtown Princeton. Originally hired as Executive Sous Chef, I was soon promoted to Executive Chef. There I began to push my creativity with unique seasonal menus featuring Prime grade beef and utilizing locally sourced fish and poultry, farm fresh produce and home-made pastas. I learned that dry-aging steaks produced a more tender, flavorful steak so I mastered the skill and began to do them myself in-house, which became a top seller. I went out of my comfort zone and taught culinary classes for the locals at Princeton University. I also spoke at local elementary school assemblies about nutrition. Both of which I consider my biggest learning experiences.
Originally from Queens, NY, I grew up in Spotswood, NJ and currently reside at the Jersey Shore with my wife of 19 years and three children. Since living near the Sea for the past several years, I really fell in love with the Seafood industry and decided to make my dream a reality to bring a Seafood restaurant, featuring an Oyster Bar near my home town. Along with my Partners, I hope to bring to New Brunswick a comfortable spot where you feel welcome to come sit at the bar with friends and share some small plates and throw back some oysters. Have a nice family gathering, host a special occasion or a business meeting where you have special menu selections. I’m looking forward to working alongside local purveyors and getting reacquainted with the community. During my career, I’ve developed some of the best relationships and I’m looking forward to sharing this experience with all of them and developing even more through this next adventure.