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Chef Spotlight: Executive Chef Josh Sauer of AVENUE in Long Branch, NJ

Josh Sauer, the Executive Chef of Avenue, the stylish restaurant on the beachfront in Long Branch, New Jersey is in Broadwayworld.com's "Chef Spotlight."

Chef Josh Sauer became passionate about cooking at an early age. Growing up in New Jersey, he watched his grandfather and father craft homemade cheese and sausage, learning the importance of using only the freshest ingredients. This prompted him to enroll in the Brookdale Culinary Arts Program and stage at the Grenville Hotel in Bay Head, where he developed patisserie skills.

After graduating in 2004, Chef Sauer worked at other shore-area landmarks like seafood restaurant Doris & Ed's but knew his true calling was in fine dining. He went on to accept a position at the acclaimEd Hamilton, New Jersey Rat's Restaurant, which serves French fare in an elegant setting, and was invigorated to work in a place that prides itself on made from scratch menu items and an extremely focused attention to detail.

Chef Sauer joined the team at the South of France-inspired brasserie Avenue in Long Branch, NJ in 2008 and worked his way up from line cook to executive chef. Avenue's focus on ambience combined with sophisticated cuisine fulfilled his desire to enrich his culinary background. In Avenue's off-seasons, Chef Sauer explores restaurants in New York City and Park City, Utah to experiment in an evolving industry and bring cutting edge trends back to the local area.

As Avenue's Executive Chef, he encourages the other members of the kitchen team to develop their unique skill sets so they can excel in their future endeavors.

What was your earliest interest in cooking?

My grandparents got me interested in cooking. They're German and Polish so when I was growing up they'd make fresh pierogis, kielbasa and pies - everything from scratch. Also, I was in the Boy Scouts when I was younger and on camping trips I would always have the chance to make breakfast, lunch and dinner for the troops.

Who were some of your career mentors?

Two mentors of mine were [former Avenue chefs] Antonio Mora and Dominique Filoni. When I first joined Avenue as a line cook Antonio opened my mind to new ways of plating and to see food in a different way. I still visit Antonio at his restaurant in Manhattan, staging at wherever he is working to learn more from him. Dominique helped me learn about the restaurant in terms of honing my organizational skills and embracing French ingredients to prepare the more classic dishes that they would serve in the region he was originally from. He also taught me to be a leader and a mentor to the rest of the staff, as he was to me throughout the years I worked with him.

What culinary styles have influenced your career? You can mention ethnic specialties or the types of food you enjoy preparing and presenting.

I enjoy preparing homestyle and comfort-style food but with a twist. When working at Rat's Restaurant in Hamilton, NJ before Avenue, the chef opened my eyes to the fact that cooking isn't just cookie cutter cooking and instead could be a combination of many types of cuisines with a certain technique.

What do you consider the most distinguishing features of your work as a chef?

I always like to do something that I haven't done before and to see what the new food trends other chefs are doing. I try to expand my own culinary horizons, as well as the culinary horizons of the cooks who work with me at Avenue. I believe it is important to know where the food we are cooking originates from to better appreciate what we're cooking. I'll visit certain small farms, coffee roasters, or the larger companies from which we source to know what happens when we order our ingredients and how it gets from the sea or field to the customers' plates.

What is your favorite meal?

At home I try to cook as healthy as possible and my favorite meal there is breakfast - it's really the only meal I eat consistently at home. I like to make fresh grains or potatoes, plus cook cage-free eggs every single morning. At Avenue, my favorite dishes are staples of our menu, like the Avenue Salad [with baby greens, shaved vegetables, avocado, tomato, and grilled shrimp] and of course the Lobster Roll. We pride ourselves on sourcing fresh Maine lobster and taking the meat out of the shell ourselves, using knuckle, tail, and claw. The lobster meat is dressed with house made mayo, a bit of orange, and spicy espelette chilies from France served over a bit of arugula on a toasted brioche bun.

Tell the readers more about Avenue restaurant in your own words.

Avenue is an upscale French brasserie where we often add a twist to classic French dishes, and even some American dishes. We stay close to French cooking techniques and roots and try to make the dishes as unique as possible with our own flair.

About Avenue

Avenue is the modern answer to a blend of Parisian brasserie and luxurious beaches of Saint-Tropez on the Atlantic beachfront. The restaurant has brought Savoir-vivre to the Jersey Shore with its dramatic high ceilings, banquettes in an oceanic palette, pearl colored marble tiles that shimmer under the light and 25-foot bar, inspired by the hull of a ship. The food by Executive Chef Josh Sauer is sophisticated and classically French with an emphasis on seafood, indicative of the dining room's gorgeous ocean views courtesy of the floor-to-ceiling windows. The sprawling restaurant seats 150 inside and has a seasonal wrap-around outdoor terrace that seats 140.

Avenue's cuisine transports diners to classic brasseries from Paris to the South of France. Signature dishes from Executive Chef Josh Sauer include staples of French cuisine with contemporary notes: Escargot with parsley-garlic butter; Salmon Tartare with avocado cremeuax and spiced sweet peas; Moules Frites, the mussels steamed in a white wine sauce enhanced with saffron; salt-crusted Whole Branzino for two with fennel pollen and sauce vierge; delicate yet buttery Dover Sole Meuniere; and ultra-rich Boeuf Bourguignon with fresh pappardelle.

Avenue is located at 23 Ocean Avenue in Long Branch, NJ. They serve dinner Monday to Thursday from 4:30 pm to 9:00 pm; Friday from 4:30 to 10:00 pm, Saturday from 4:30 pm to 11:00 pm and on Sunday from 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Lunch is served Monday to Friday from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm. Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm. Call them at (732) 759-2900, and visit www.leclubavenue.com.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Chef Josh Sauer

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