New chef embraces the old at Chez TJ
The new chef at Chez TJ's, Mountain View's only Michelin-starred restaurant, says that diners shouldn't expect to find agar noodles or other hallmarks of molecular gastronomy on the menu.
Jarad Gallagher, 34, who took the helm of the one-star Chez TJ a couple of weeks ago, says his aim is to be true to the experience of dining in a historic house.
"It's a unique opportunity as a chef," Gallagher told the Voice. "These places don't exist anymore. It's easy to build a modern restaurant, but house built in 1800s?"
"This is an old Victorian house, that's a unique experience on its own."
He says Chez TJ's menu will play on the characteristics of being both old and modern.
"We'll use some newer techniques and flavor profiles, but they'll be presented in a little bit more of a throw-back style," Gallagher says. "Molecular gastronomy is not a word we're going to use in this restaurant. You're not going to see agar noodles."
At the moment, he says he's in the process of selecting proteins for the restaurant, which include Dungeness crab, free-range antelope from Broken Arrow Ranch and live lobster and uni. He's still searching for a source of grass-fed beef within 100 miles of the restaurant. It's not easy, because most of the beef is grain finished, he says.
"Local (sources) are only important if it's good for the world and good for people to eat," Gallagher says. "I'll buy scallops from Massachusetts and support that fishery. I'm not going to slight myself by saying everything has to be local if it's not good and it's not consistent."
Gallagher, whose credentials include One Market and Michael Mina, and chef de cuisine at the Plumed Horse in Saratoga, is no stranger to restaurants with Michelin stars.
"Being a Michelin restaurant speaks to the care, the love and respect that the chef is showing to the staff and the food," he says. "It's more than just being crazy — everybody can be crazy — but being controlled, staying inside your concept."
So far, the reaction to Chez TJ's new menu has been positive, Gallagher says.
"I've changed a lot dishes really quickly, and (the staff) has been nothing short of amazing," he says. "In terms of the guests, I've been talking to every table, and they say they're enjoying it."
Chez TJ's former chef, Joey Elenterio, left in early November, reportedly saying that he was ready to move on to something bigger.