By SUSAN ERICSON
In the exquisite, state-of-the-art kitchen at Kitch Organic on Leighton Avenue in Red Bank, the cooks are busy preparing some extraordinary recipes.
All the food here is gluten-free and certified-organic, but that isn’t what makes it exceptional. Health benefits aside, chef Jenny Freeman is producing meals chock-full of flavor — and she’s doing it with home-grown and carefully sourced ingredients.
The 42-year-old chef went to the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York “to learn how to help heal people through food,” she tells PieHole. “I wanted to learn good nutrition and use it in my cooking.” The lemon-scented chicken salad sandwich is served on a sturdy gluten free focaccia bread. Below, the turkey-based meatloaf. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
Good nutrition is just one part of Freeman’s mission, though. She’s also conscious of how all of that certified organic food is used. In her kitchen, everything is made from scratch, except the tempeh, and nothing goes to waste. Even the tops and bottoms sliced off tomatoes will be dehydrated, ground, and then sprinkled into soups, adding a big punch of flavor.
Working first at Mumford’s Culinary Center in Tinton Falls for two years, Freeman got a feel for how the restaurant industry works. She left that job and started working at the now-closed Jesse’s Café in Long Branch, but a vegetarian environment wasn’t quite the fit she was looking for, either she says. So after five years, she left and started to look for something else.
At Kitch Organic, which opened October 1, Freeman has found a balance between a healthy, mostly plant-based diet and one anchored in small doses of the certified-organic meat. The meatloaf, for instance, is made from certified organic free-range turkey with no less than eight vegetables added to the mix.
“If I’m in the mood for a burger, I’ll go for a burger,” she says. Burgers do appear on the menu, but they’re turkey-based or made from a bean patty kicked up several notches with red and green jalapenos grown in the garden behind the restaurant.
“Customers come in who aren’t accustomed to eating this kind of food,” says Freeman, who’s still working on the menu, “trying different ideas to get feedback and see what our customers like.”
Oh, and should you want that meatloaf on a sandwich, the bread will be gluten-free, baked in-house using organic rice flour. In addition to making their own almond milk and cold press juices for smoothies and other recipes, Kitch owners Rick Ivone and Joe Durso plan to add to the baked goods menu. A grab n’ go breakfast option might include granola with almond milk, chia pudding, oatmeal with dehydrated fruits or the Kitch version of pop-tarts now in the works.
With the weather turning cooler, hot soup is also finding its way on the menu, prepared with stocks Freeman has made. Dishes include a roasted chicken soup with vegetables and a sweet potato ginger soup.
While PieHole sat at the counter feasting on a lemon-scented chicken salad sandwich folded with a cruciferous vegetable mixture and served on the tastiest rosemary-flecked focaccia, a customer came in and ordered the same meal to go. Lisa Baum said she drove over from Lincroft because the chicken salad was, “highly recommended by a friend.”
Kitch Organic is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.