WESTFIELD, NJ — Since becoming executive chef at Westfield’s celebrated Chez Catherine on New Year’s Day, Alexandre Gomes has added his own modern twist to the classic French restaurant’s menu. Gomes, along with managing partner Jose Nolasco, is also owner of E.V.O. Delicacies Gourmet Food Shop and Catering in Short Hills.
“As a child growing up in Kenilworth, my parents were my inspiration,” said Gomes. “My mother was a wonderful cook who taught me everything there is to know about functioning in a fine kitchen.
“My dad was a great baker. While living at home, I’d watch ‘Great Chefs Great Cities,' which also inspired me to become a fine chef. After graduating from high school, I followed my dream and headed to The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. While there, I literally threw myself into the entire culinary world and consumed every bit of whatever there was to learn about the preparation of food for any and all occasions.”
Gomes said that it was only natural that he returned to Manhattan after graduation to gain experience working in restaurants throughout the city and New Jersey.
“My goal was to become the very best chef at the finest restaurant,” said Gomes.
It was while serving as executive chef at Le Rendez-vous in Kenilworth that Gomes met Didier Jouvenet, who has owned Chez Catherine with his wife, Edith, for more than 11 years.
Working together, Gomes and Jouvenet created the menu d’hiver [winter menu], which features a three-course prix-fixe for $68 and four-course prix-fixe for $85
Appetizers: Salade maraichere (mixed baby greens, winter vegetables, pickled red onion, herb vinaigrette), escargots a la Bourguignonne (snails, butter, garlic, parsley and Pernod), foie gras de canard sauté (pan-seared Hudson Valley duck foie gras, pear compote, winter vegetable puree, spiced nut crumble—supplement $12).
Entrees: Bar sauté de l’Atlantique (sautéed black sea bass, braised kale-tomato confit, potato, saffron-infused fish fumé), noix de St-Jacques (seared day boat sea scallops, fennel-asparagus risotto, warm tarragon citrus caper vinaigrette), sole de Douvres meuniere (Dover sole, brown butter and lemon—tableside preparation, market price), magret de canard poelé (crisp rendered duck breast, spiced root vegetable pureé, warm beet salad, lavender honey reduction), fricassee de lapin a l’ancienne (rabbit fricassee, melange of winter vegetables, mushrooms, wilted greens, braising liquid).
Desserts: Profiteroles au chocolat (pastry puff, vanilla ice cream, hot chocolate sauce), soufflé du jour—supplement $10, entremet aux poires (baked pear, pound cake, vanilla ice cream, salted caramel sauce).
Gomes is also able to prepare vegetarian and vegan dishes.
“A landmark destination, people come to Chez Catherine because of our timeless reputation for good food and good service,” said Jouvenet. “I am very happy and proud to have Alex with us at Chez Catherine.”
“With our new team in place, we all look forward to continuing to be one of New Jersey’s finest restaurants,” said Gomes. “We’re looking forward to greeting our new customers and friends.”
Chez Catherine is located at 431 North Ave W. Lunch: Noon to 2:30 p.m. Dinner: 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Chez Catherine is closed Sunday and Monday. For reservations and information call (908) 654-4011.
Parking is available in a lot next to the restaurant. Available for private parties from 10 to 40 people. Consult with Jouvenet or Gomes for menu selections and fees. Gift certificates available.
Twenty percent gratuity is automatically added for parties of five or more.