Food & Drink

CJ Reycraft of Amuse Wins International "Chef of the Future" Award from Academy of Gastronomy

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Amuse chef C.J. Reycraft, Jr., prepares English pea soup as his first course when his restaurant hosted the Academy of Gastronomy USA on Friday, April 15. Credits: John Mooney
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Dr. Sevi Avigdor, President of the Academy of Gastonomy and chef C.J. Reycraft, Jr., with his mom, Holly Reycraft, and his grandmother, Edythe Smith. Credits: John Mooney
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C.J. Reycraft, Jr., of Amuse is the first chef from New Jersey to receive the Prix au Chef de L’Avenir ("Chef of the Future") Award. Credits: John Mooney
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Members of the Academy of Gastronomy USA await their first course at Amuse in Westfield on April 15. Credits: John Mooney
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Australian rack of lamb with hash brown potato and Bordelaise sauce Credits: John Mooney
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C.J. Reycraft, Jr., dishes out apple sorbet. Credits: John Mooney
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CJ Reycraft and his business partner, Jim Ford Credits: John Mooney
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Banana pudding with hazelnut chocolate crumbs and carmelized banana Credits: John Mooney
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C.J. Reycraft, Jr., with Dr. Sevi Avigdor, President of the Academy of Gastonomy.
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Cappucino Credits: John Mooney
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WESTFIELD, NJ -- CJ Reycraft, chef and owner of Amuse in Westfield, has become one of three American chefs -- and the first ever from New Jersey -- to be given the prestigious Prix au Chef de L’Avenir (Leading Chef of the Future) Award, by the International Academy of Gastronomy.

Founded in 1983, the International Academy of Gastronomy is an international network of men and women with a keen interest in gastronomy. Dr. Sevi Avigdor, who hosted the evening, called Amuse a "jewel" and explained that Reycraft had been chosen as Chef de L’Avenir over chefs in New York City, across America and the globe.

The celebratory dinner included English pea soup with tarragon pesto and brioche crouton; crepes with crabmeat, shrimp, andouille sausage; and choice of three main courses: duck confit with honshimiji mushrooms, haricot verts, fingerling potatoes, and roasted garlic aioli; Australian rack of lamb with hash brown potatoes with bordelaise sauce, and seared Hokkaido sea scallops with avocado and baby arugula.  Among the desserts were profiteroles (salted caramel ice cream, almond praline, and chocolate ganache); banana pudding with hazelnut-chocolate crumbs and caramelized bananas; and white chocolate mousse with passion fruit sabayon and blackberry.

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The event had a familial touch as Reycraft's mother and grandmother attended.

"He planned on going into accounting," said his proud mom, Holly Reycraft. "I knew that was never going to work. He was always helping me in the kitchen, breading cutlets and making things."

Reycraft, 33, opened Amuse, which serves classic French food with a modern twist, in January 2014. The Freehold, NJ, native trained at French Culinary Institute in New York and later worked at the elegant Chez Catherine in Westfield and at the Huntley Tavern in Summit before opening up his own restaurant. In October, the restaurant was reviewed in The New York Times. On May 2, Reycraft will do a cooking demonstraion on the highly rated Fox 5 "Good Day New York" program.

Amuse is located at 39 Elm Street in downtown Westfield. Hours are: Monday through Thursday, lunch noon to 3 p.m., dinner 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, lunch noon to 3 p.m., dinner 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, lunch noon to 4 p.m., dinner 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, brunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. To make a reservation, click here or call 908-317-2640. Visit amusenj.com.

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