While a modest beginning filleting fish in the Fulton Market got his career started, Chef Tristan Tevrow soon found himself at the Institute for Culinary Education (ICE) in New York City. While pursuing the basics of a culinary education there, he worked an entry-level position which, coincidentally, was his first time at Highlawn Pavilion.
After graduating from ICE, he secured a position in the kitchen of Café Grey in Manhattan. It was there that Tevrow had a kind of culinary epiphany, learning about how we can experience different elements of taste such as sweet and salty at the same time, and how they react with each other to create even more heightened sensations.
In 2010, Tevrow made his return to Highlawn Pavilion working as a daytime sous chef. In September 2016, Tevrow advanced to the lead the kitchen as Executive Chef, reinvigorating the menu with his own dishes, style, and culinary approach. Since then he has been wowing guest with his fresh seasonal menus that incorporate surprising ingredients and unique flavor profiles, evolving otherwise classic dishes into customer favorites.
Having been a successful All-American wrestler and team captain at the University of Michigan, his colleagues in the kitchen joke that Chef Dowd can relate any topic back to wrestling in less than three sentences. But in talking with Highlawn Pavilion’s Executive Sous Chef Foley Dowd, we found that just as much, it’s food and cooking that Foley has a passion for using as apropos anecdotes. And it makes perfect sense…Before Foley ever stepped inside the circle to wrestle, it was food that was formative in his early life. As he recalls, “The dinner table was a sacred place.” The unifying effect of breaking bread together would not be lost on Foley. His family placed a lot of value on making dinner an important time of day—to gather together, pause from their busy lives, and share the news of the day over a good meal. And as a family of foodies, you could bet that those meals were indeed “good” – the kind that would make you run to the table when mom said that dinner was ready. With both Italian and Puerto Rican heritage, Foley was exposed early on to rich traditions of food culture, as well as insights into how blending cuisines of disparate parts of the world could make for surprising…and delicious…results.
But what his kitchen compatriots may not know is that wrestling is much more relevant to his career in cooking than would be obvious at a glance. As a serious high school and collegiate wrestler, proper nutrition was paramount when having to maintain one’s weight strictly while also building strength. At a younger age than most, Foley developed an awareness of the food he would consume, as well as the value that he got out of it – whether that be in caloric terms, or in the satiating effect of quality whole foods prepared and seasoned well. That awareness of the value of good meals, made well, would certainly prove useful to him in his current endeavors. But beyond that, his successful college career in wrestling with the Wolverines also helped to make his culinary pursuits possible, helping him to obtain a graduate assistantship at Kendall College, Chicago’s number one ranked culinary school—a position that would pay the way for his post-graduate culinary education.
With his degree in-hand in the food obsessed city of Chicago, Foley quickly began to grow his practical experience in the kitchens of the culinary elite, working in such restaurants as Blue Water Grill. He also trailed at restaurant establishments that were created by one of his culinary inspirations, the James Beard Award-winning Chicago-based restaurateur, Shawn McClain. In Chicago, Foley gained exposure to the excitement of restaurants that produced inventive cuisine and drew critical acclaim. He soon found a love for the intensity of a working kitchen and benefitted once again from his athletic career to not be intimidated by the big personalities of a restaurant, but instead embrace the competitive environment.
With the draw of family (and much longed-for home cooking) pulling him back to New Jersey, however, Foley found himself back in the Garden State…and back on “the farm”. Having grown up on a horse farm in Howell, NJ, Foley developed a strong work ethic that has served him well in both his athletic and culinary pursuits. Quite incidentally, it has also helped to directly serve Highlawn Pavilion as well. Chickens raised by Foley’s family on Glenbeigh Farm now provide eggs for our kitchen, offering a trusted fresh local resource for us in keeping with our ethic of using quality, regional ingredients in our dishes. Understanding the care and feeding of animals and having a true sense of where food comes from has given Foley an even greater curiosity and appreciation for the art and science of gastronomy, as well as what it really means when thinking with a “farm-to-table” mindset.
Constantly stretching his experiences in the food and restaurant business, Foley has also developed some rather specialized knowledge with shellfish and other seafood. On his return to New Jersey, he assisted his uncle, owner of a seafood importing company. Often working the administrative side of the business, Foley learned the ins and outs of importing laws, food safety guidelines, reporting and record keeping procedures, as well the grading and analysis of seafood. While not the most glamorous of tasks, many restaurateurs will tell you that wielding a spreadsheet as adeptly as knife is invaluable to the ultimate success of any restaurant operation.
Since 2013, Chef Dowd has filled roles behind the line of Highlawn Pavilion as well as its sister venue, The Manor, bringing consistency and commitment to the kitchen, becoming a much valued and well-liked part of the culinary team. While the only time you’ll find him wrestling now is for the last bites of his mother’s famous potato salad, Chef Dowd still brings that regimented sense of discipline, drive for perfection, and exploration to his work at Highlawn Pavilion.
Even now, he’s still exploring different approaches to cuisine. Perhaps spurred by his early experiences with food, he has a curiosity for combining contemporary American approaches with global influences–and in particular, exploring elements of cuisines from around the equator. His fascinations also extend to recreating indigenous dishes and understanding the use of ingredients employed by previous eras and early cultures. He might explore, for instance, native grains that a bison would have fed on, and investigate incorporating both into the construction of a dish. Contemplating breaking down dishes into their ingredients and understanding their value from the perspectives of taste and textures, for Foley, offers a way to think about food as something that has always been the focus of human life and is heavily steeped in traditions, but is still forever evolving.
Like many chefs, Greg’s earliest inspirations to cook started in childhood with family dinners. As he recalls, most of his greatest dining experiences have involved family gatherings and special occasions where food would play a dominate role in celebrations. When asked, he ranks his mother as his greatest example of a “non-professional” baker and cook. Much of his early learning about the techniques and nuances of cooking were born from moments spent in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother. The purpose of cooking for him is tied in that family way as not just a production process, but to the value that a well-prepared meal plays in heightening shared experiences and the enjoyment felt when good food is shared in the company of cherished friends and family.
Where Greg’s story diverges from others, however, is that a career in the kitchen took him quite by surprise. His original intentions for a profession, and therefore collegiate pursuits, were in the field of engineering. His passion for the sciences and how things work drew his interest. But it was working in his first restaurant where he experienced a “lightbulb moment”. It was in a professional culinary environment where he realized that his affinity for cooking had a truly fulfilling synergy with his fascination with science. The realization that he could combine both creative and methodological approaches to cooking sparked his nascent passion for that sense memory of brining joy to others through food. Realizing the immense diversity of possibilities that cooking had to offer, being able to work with flavors to evoke nuances in dishes, gaining a greater knowledge of the technical methods of the trade, understanding the science behind cooking, and being able to apply new or unexpected interpretations to cuisines all fueled his dedication to his craft.
With studies at the Culinary Institute of America and direct restaurant experience, Greg was asked to join the team at Highlawn Pavilion. After showing strong promise, talent, and dedication, Greg was elevated to his current position of sous chef, now having served in our kitchen for over five years.
Greg’s passion now is to continue to explore the endless possibilities to create, contribute to the collaborative process welcomed in Highlawn Pavilion’s kitchen, further his own affinity for a “nose-to-tail” philosophy of utilizing resources, and build upon his holistic approach to cooking. In talking about food with Greg, anyone would quickly see the level of focus that he has on his craft as well as how his analytical side meets with the love of food born from his early family experiences with cooking — all making for an ideal marriage of the art and science of gastronomy.
Deadlines, early mornings, late nights–when you take the time to watch a pastry chef working away with focus, spending hours preparing batters, timing their bakes down the best possible minute, and standing over a cake painstakingly finessing every little detail of decoration knowing it will only ultimately be consumed in a matter of moments, you might wonder what drives one to apply so much dedication to the craft. But for those who have had the good fortune to get to know Highlawn Pavilion’s Pastry Chef, Daniel Micucci, the reasons are as clear as sugar glass. The sweet life for Daniel pretty much boils down to Grandma, Super Grover, and The Big C.
Daniel’s early inspirations to make the art and science of baking a professional pursuit began, like most, from the desserts made with love by his grandmother. An important sentimental memory that sparked his imagination and symbolizes the joy and surprise that could be created with just a handful of ingredients was the bright blue birthday treat made in his grandmother’s Linden, NJ home. Complete with a pink cookie nose worthy of a Muppet, her “Grover Cupcakes” brought to life the whimsy and fun of baking.
From then on, Daniel was hooked, even endeavoring vocational pursuits as early as 12 years old, building his practical experience at a young age. A high school valedictorian, Daniel applied his intellect further, earning his way into the New Jersey STARS program, which provided high-achieving students with free tuition at their home county college. Too good to pass up, Daniel pursued an associate degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management, graduating from Middlesex County College with highest honors. Throughout his educational years Daniel has been inducted into the National Technical Honors Society, the Rotary Club, amongst other various organizations.
After an internship at “The Fine Art of Cakes” he ventured on to various bakeries and pastry shops applying his talents to the trade and continuing to pick up skills along the way. Stints at “Gourmet Touch Bakery” and ‘Confections of a Rockstar” led to a bakery manager position at a high-volume corporate retail location. Looking to expand his creative outlets through cakes, he also partnered in a start-up business, “Who Stuck Their Finger In the Cake?”, that had celebrities dialing digits for his creations, crafting costly confections for elite clientele, charging into the thousands for his work.
But perhaps as influential as Grandma and Grover in Daniel’s eventual arrival at Highlawn Pavilion to lead our pastry team, was the startling diagnosis of cancer at a young age. While contemplating a temping opportunity for a career shift, the struggles and demands of Daniel’s treatments forced him to maintain his bakery management position rather than take the leap in a new direction. Through that time of turmoil, however, Daniel rediscovered his passion for pastry making and bringing joy to others through his craft. Here at Highlawn Pavilion, it’s easy to see the level of seriousness in his work ethic mixed with the sublime pleasure he takes in his everyday opportunity to create…perhaps traits that are most true in someone who can be called a “survivor”.
From his awareness of “Instagram food culture” and staying abreast of current trends, to introducing seasonal elements and ingredients in his pastries, Daniel keeps a keen focus on continuing to evolve his vocation. Anyone who has seen his skills decorating cakes and making concepts into edible reality, can attest to his talents. Whether melding modern twists with classics or adding elements of international ideas, Pastry Chef Daniel Micucci brings a playful sense of his early childhood wonderment and the serious determination of a survivor to the crafting of cakes and pastries—all to make the moments of our restaurant and event guests just a little more special.
Served Monday through Friday
12:00 – 3:00 pm
Served Monday through Thursday
5:30 – 9:00 pm
Friday: 5:30 – 10:00pm
Saturday: 5:00 – 10:00pm
Sunday: 5:00 – 9:00pm
Elegant casual attire; jackets preferred for men, but not required. A more formal main dining room. Slightly more relaxed, refined attire accepted in the bar, piano room, and patio. Please no sneakers, t-shirts, or flip flops. For more specific questions relating to our dress code, please click here or call 973-731-3463.