Chef Jim Haurey
It all started back in the summer of 1985; it was time to get a junky car and auto insurance and generally get my life in order. My job at the time did not pay well and, let’s face it, mowing a few lawns and getting high with your friends do not exactly pay the bills. I landed a job at the Somerset Marriott in New Jersey. After a time, I worked my way into the prep station: chopping lettuce, peeling onions, peeling potatoes, basic stuff. I was offered a chance to work the salad station for one of the restaurants. Why not? I had nothing better to do and the line cooks were crazy, it might be fun. I was getting a real feel for the salad station and how things worked in kitchens and I loved it! Soon I was trying everything: banquets, fryer, hot line, grill - anything they would let me try, I did. On arriving to work one night, I saw the Chef was PISSED off. Most of the line didn’t show up for work and I was the only one working that night. He had a banquet to run, which meant I was solo. The Chef left me with a few pitchers of beer, a great pep talk and some other “motivational tools” to help me through. In short, it was ugly, but I held together and got the job done. After the smoke cleared we went out for a cigarette and he said, “You should think about making a career out of this, kid. You got what it takes and I think you have just the right amount of crazy to make it through”. HELL, YEAH, I’M IN!
Fast forward a bit and I find myself up at Johnston and Wales Culinary School in Providence, Rhode Island. School was great and the party scene was out of this world. Two years later, I got my diploma and it was time to get a job. Party over. I spent a few years getting fine dining experience at various restaurants in NJ.
Next up, The Ryland Inn. This is where things got real for me. The work load was unimaginable. The pay was pathetic - we’re talking a salary of $300 to start and we would work 80 to 90 hours a week - no joke. I loved it and completely thrived in the environment. I went in as the lowest cook on the totem pole and when all was said and done I was the Sous Chef running the show, working directly under Craig Shelton, Executive Chef, the man who made it all happen. I spent a total of seven years working there and lots of things happened during that time. I met the love of my life, Dominique Herman, who came in as a cook and was great! Dominique took on the challenge of starting a garden, growing everything Craig could come up with on 3 acres and all organic. It was incredible - the true beginnings of farm-to-table for me. During that time The Ryland won every award and received the highest ratings from EVERYONE: Five Diamond Award, James Beard Dinners, Art Culinaire Magazine, Relais & Chateaux, the cover of Gourmet Magazine, TWICE. You name it.
Eventually, Dominique and I were planning to build our home on a small piece of the farm she grew up on. I got a call from James Laird, former Sous Chef of the Ryland. He had just opened up his place, Restaurant Serenade, and he told me they were looking for a Chef De Cuisine for The Dining Room at the Hilton Shorthills, one of a handful of restaurants with the AAA 5 Diamond Award. I went for it, got the job and commuted from Warwick for a few years. Talk about fancy - white glove service and silver everything. To top it off, they had a harp player. Yes, that’s right, a harp player. Everything was great, we got into Art Culinaire, did a James Beard House lunch, kept the 5 Diamond award for the years I was there, got a great New York Times review, Best of The Best in NJ Monthly 3 years running, and perfect reviews from the local papers. However… I found myself in the HR department constantly. Folks just didn’t understand me…
I found myself at our local spot, The Crystal Inn. I worked in the kitchen on Sundays and helped with a few special events. One thing led to another and Gussy brought me in as his Chef. I got a real feel for the community, met a bunch of great farmers, made some big changes, and spent close to a decade working there with Ryan and a great crew. One day, it was time to move on, so I did.
Which brings us to The Grange. I just couldn’t fathom working for anyone anymore. I knew it and, more importantly, Dominque knew it. It was time to do my own thing. It took about two years (they have been referred to as “The Dark Years”), but I finally found my own space. The building was gorgeous but had been neglected and needed a lot of work. The kitchen was filthy! So bad that I had to gut it, right down to the bare studs, and rebuild it. Dominique had started her own business when we moved to Warwick in 1999, The Kitchen Garden, a three acre, certified organic vegetable farm down in the black dirt. Her veggies were, and still are, amazing! So it all came together. We live 10 minutes from the farm and 10 minutes from the restaurant. I only use local farms for all of the meat we sell and what we don’t grow ourselves I get from Bob & Sally Scheuermann, some fantastic folks! We use as many local farmers as we can. You can find links to their places on this website. The work is non-stop after you add in Dominque’s flock of Saxon Merino sheep, but that’s another story. It has been a long road to get here, but here we are.