Chef's Bio: Stanley Novak
Stanley's career in restaurants began at Pfenninger's Hilltop Inn, in Flemington, NJ in 1979. In the five years that he worked there, Stanley progressed from dishwasher, to pantry, to line cook. After cooking the line full time for one year following high school graduation, Stanley decided to pursue formal culinary training, and in 1983 enrolled in the intense and prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. An externship at The Fox and The Hounds in Colts Neck, NJ gave Stanley his first hands-on experience with upscale culinary style that emphasized quality and presentation. After successfully completing an intensive 21-month program at C.I.A., Stanley returned to Pfenninger's Hilltop as Head Chef, and remained in this position from January 1986 to October of 1986. At that time he was recruited by Fromagerie Restaurant in Rumson, NJ. Stanley worked at the Formagerie for 18 months, and was quickly promoted from line cook to Sous Chef and Pastry Chef. During this time Stanley met David Burke (now famed and recognized Chef/Owner of davidburke & donatella in New York(now known as David Burke Townhouse), David Burke at Bloomingdales in New York, Burke in the Box in New York, David Burkes Primehouse in The James Chicago Hotel, Fromagerie in New Jersey, David Burke Las Vegas in the Venetian Resort, Hotel, Casino, David Burke Prime at Foxwoods Casino & Resort and Fishtail by David Burke in New York, as well as published cook book author), whom made a "celebrity chef guest apearance" at Fromagerie. In 1988 the young, and proving-to-be-talented Novak was recruited by David Burke himself, to join him at The River Cafe in Brooklyn, NY, where Burke was then Executive Chef. Stanley joined the organization as Sous Chef, and in this capacity took on administrative responsibilities for a large kitchen staff. Additionally, Novak had the opportunity to work closely with Burke, and cooked for many celebrities - including a private dinner for Donald Trump on Trump's yaht. It was in 1992 when Stanley joined The Frog and The Peach Restaurant, in New Brunswick, NJ as Executive Chef that he was truly given the freedom and responsibility to develop his own culinary style and "signature." What ensued was Innovative American cuisine - personalized by Novak's unique and masterful integration of flavors, colors and textures of the finest and freshest available ingredients, that is presented with what has been referred to as "architectural" and "visually stunning"style. During Stanley's tenure there the restaurant was voted Best of the Best by NJ Monthly magazine readers for three consecutive years ,and in 1993, Novak was the magazine's feature cover story. Valerie Sinclair, then of the New York Times, rated his cuisine "excellent," and he was indoctrinated into the James Beard House of guest chefs, cooking a luncheon there for 100 people. Stanley and his cuisine were featured on the television program, "For Arts Sake," a local New Jersey Cable program, as well as the TV Food Network out of New York City. He also participated in "Taste of the Nations" hunger relief fundraisers. In 1995 Stanley Novak left The Frog and The Peach to actuate a life-long dream: to open his own restaurant. With partner and spouse, Theresa Novak, Stanley opened the Harvest Moon Inn in Ringoes, NJ, in November, 1995. And it is no "shy" first undertaking. The restaurant seats 120, and is situated on five acres of land that will readily accomodate banquets and parties as large as 200. Novak has continued his Innovative American cuisine, and has designed a casual Tavern menu that is affordable to families and every day diners in a casual setting. It is in the two colonial-styled, fine dining rooms with fireplaces that Novak's ambitious ala carte menu is served, complete with full liquor license and wine lists. In the words of Joan Hamburg, he's serving "Absolutely top American cuisine as good as anything we have eaten in fine Manhattan restaurants...And the price differential is shocking!" New Jersey Zagat Guide for 1997 highlights the restaurant "Among NJ's top new additions...an elegant American." Very shortly after opening Cody Kendall of The Star Ledger included The Harvest Moon Inn in her list of Top Ten Dining Spots for 1995. In addition to full ala carte lunch and dinner service, as well as banquet facilities, Stanley has provided cooking instruction classes to Kings supermarkets, Edibles Naturally, in Princeton, and some times holds his own classes in his kitchen at the Harvest Moon Inn. Stanley is married to Theresa Pfenninger Novak. They have two children: Breana, and Alex. The Novak family resides in Flemington , NJ.