Chef Mitchell Altholz, the classically trained, highly renowned, and widely respected executive chef of Highlawn Pavilion, is a soft spoken man, whose demeanor exudes quiet confidence and passion for his craft.
The pristine plates that Chef Mitchell and his team of young chefs at Highlawn Pavilion create are a product of Mitchell's well-rounded culinary career.
Mitchell, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, worked in New York City as a Sous Chef at Maxim’s from 1985 – 1989. Mitchell then sojourned to France, where he spent seven years cooking at such fine restaurants as Maxim’s, Paul Bocuse, Le Saprien and L’Iboga, and was the only American in Bordeaux to hold the position of Chef de Cuisine.
When Mitchell returned to the States he opened the acclaimed Jocelyne’s in Maplewood, which received an Excellent from the New York Times.
Most notable about Chef Mitchell's cooking style is his dedication to the freshest ingredients. During his time in France Mitchell became acquainted with the farm to table ideology that was, then, lacking in the States. Today, Mitchell has incorporated farm to table style into his cooking. As Executive Chef at Highlawn Pavilion, Mitchell regularly (and perhaps, religiously) visits the gardens at the Pleasantdale Chateau, where he avails himself of the freshest produce and herbs, and passes it on to appreciative diners.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mitchell, who in his trademark soft-spoken fashion told me about his background, his kitchen at Highlawn, promising young chefs, his influences, and his hobbies.
MK: What were the challenges you encountered in the transition from Jocelyn’s, an intimate, nine table restaurant, to a much larger venue like Highlawn Pavilion?