Chefs Without Restaurants at Elements – The Prelude

Elements Restaurant in Princeton, New Jersey is a worthwhile destination restaurant in its own right. I have written about a number of visits there over the past few years. Scott Anderson’s food just keeps getting better and better and it was excellent when the restaurant started. Every now and again, they host dinners with guest chefs. These also tend to be excellent. This past Friday, they had one that I was quite fortunate to be able to attend with my wife. This one featured a few talented chefs currently without restaurants of their own.

Alex Talbot

I have been huge fans of Alex Talbot and Aki Kamozawa of Ideas in Food for years. They have not had a restaurant since they were at Keyah Grande in Colorado, but have since focused on their amazing website, consulting work and occasional guest chef dinners. Though she was fully involved with the creation of the dishes, unfortunately Aki was unable to attend the dinner due to other obligations.

Karen and John Shields

I have only eaten the food of John and Karen Shields once before, when they were at Town Housedown in Chilhowie, Virginia, but that one meal was enough to make my wife and I huge, huge fans of their cooking. That was one of the most amazing and wonderful meals I have ever had. John and Karen left Town House this past winter and are currently residing outside of Philadelphia and planning their next culinary venture.

Johnny Spero

Helping the Shields was Johnny Spero, a young chef with a wide range of experience who is planning to open his own restaurant, Suna, this coming fall in Washington, D.C. That is one I will keep on my radar.

Curtis Duffy

Curtis Duffy left Avenues in Chicago last summer to build his dream restaurant. That restaurant, Grace, is currently under construction. He is taking the time to do it right. I had never eaten his food before this night and the opportunity to do so, especially in conjunction with the opportunity to revisit the cooking of the Shields, Alex and Aki and Elements, made this a must get to dinner for me.

Chef Scott Anderson and his right hand man, Michael Ryan, obviously currently have a restaurant – and a fine one it is.

Below are more photos from the kitchen before dinner and the cocktail hour. There will be a separate post on the dinner itself.

Glasses on the bar awaiting service

Karen Shields talking with Alex Talbot

Johnny Spero and John Shields

Alex Talbot putting on his chef’s t-shirt

John Shields

Karen Shields discussing service points

Cocktail hour has begun.

Barkeep Jamie Dodge, crafting the Swarm of Locust cocktail with strawberry consommé, black locust flower syrup, Haymans Gin, Henry Varnay blanc de blanc

Liquid nitrogen dewar on wheels

Local bonito tartar
Scallion, white soy, baguette, ginger, cilantro flower


Karen Shields going over last minute details with Johnny Spero

Roasted beet
Local ricotta, asparagus, roasted garlic, chervil and oxalis

Kale soup

Tuscan kale soup
English muffin and potato foam

Main dining room decor

Main dining room decor

Passed hors d’ouvres. All the hors d’ouvres were from the Elements team.

Cured lardo
Garden radish, nori powder

Ossabaw lomo
Cornmeal, tomatillo, remoulade, epazote

Many, many plates

Karen Urie Shields

Karen Urie Shields

Curtis Duffy conversing with Alex Talbot. Karen Shields is in the foreground. Scott Anderson is behind Alex Talbot.

Moments to relax before dinner service – Curtis Duffy speaking with Peter Merelis and Adam Goldberg.

Alex Talbot and John Shields

 Alex Talbot and John Shields

Non-alcoholic ginger cocktail – the teetotalerhouse ginger beer, orange, lime, elderflower

Alex Talbot

The Elements Bar

Nice selection of spirits

Notice the Pappy

Starting to plate

Coming soon – an outstanding dinner!

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2 Responses to Chefs Without Restaurants at Elements – The Prelude

  1. You might be interested in a series of videos I’m doing about Duffy and his upcoming restaurant Grace, for Grub Street, chronicling the process behind opening the restaurant. The first one is here; a new one will appear shortly:

  2. Pingback: Chefs Without Restaurants at Elements – The Prelude | CookingPlanet

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