Marina Kennedy checked in with Executive Chef Seadon Shouse, of Halifax at the W Hoboken. Read on to learn about his career influences, his all-time most memorable meal, and for a recipe you can try at home.
JERSEY BITES: When did you realize you wanted to make cooking a career? Was there an aha! moment?
SEADON SHOUSE: I have always loved cooking, but I didn’t fully realize how much until I was in my senior year of high school, when I went home to Nova Scotia for a visit and my stepfather suggested that I go to culinary school because I liked cooking so much. I had planned on going into aeronautical engineering.
Any interesting stories about where and with whom you started cooking professionally?
My first professional cooking position was at Meriwether’s Market Restaurant in Lynchburg, VA, under Chef Denise Simmons. She encouraged me to continue in this career and she guided me in the right direction. My second professional cooking position was at The Chanticleer Inn on Nantucket Island, where I worked with Chef Jean Charles Berruet. It was there that I [realized] for sure that this was my passion.
What is your favorite dish at Halifax, and how do you think it showcases your signature techniques?
It’s hard to pick just one, but I would say the cured and smoked fish and meats are my favorites. I feel they showcase my passion for curing and smoking meats, a practice that is common in Nova Scotia, where I grew up. We currently make maple smoked salmon, smoked mussels, smoked trout, smoked pollock, cured pork lomo, country-style terrine, and duck liver pate.
What is the best opportunity that has come to you from cooking?
I would say the ability to move around the country for different jobs. I have had the opportunity to work in nine different states and two provinces since I started cooking.
Describe the most memorable meal you’ve had.
It was at Atelier Amaro in Warsaw, Poland. It is a Michelin-starred restaurant and I ate there with a close friend of mine who lives in Poland. Food was as close to perfection as I have had anywhere.
What is the best advice you have to share with young folks interested in becoming chefs?
Think again… no really, I would suggest to anyone thinking about becoming a chef to try to get an entry level job—dishwasher or prep cook—in a nice restaurant in their area first and work there for a couple years. They should be able to decide within a few months if cooking is the right job for them.
If you could choose to be any food item, what would it be?
I would be a fish because I love to be in and around the water. I also like to cook and eat fish.
What is the one staple food you always have in your cupboard at home?
Seaweed and bonito flakes.
What is your beverage of choice?
What is your favorite comfort food?
Sushi. Real sushi.
What New Jersey restaurant do you enjoy dining at, besides your own?
I enjoy American Cut in Englewood Cliffs.
If you could have dinner with any three people, living, deceased or fictional, who would they be and why?
Alexander Bitkov. He is my wife’s father, who passed away before I really got to know him. Massimo Bottura. He is the chef / owner of the number one restaurant in the world. He seems very relaxed to have a 3-star Michelin restaurant and the number one restaurant in the world. He would be very interesting to talk to. Rene Redzepi, the chef and owner of Noma, which was the number one restaurant in the world for a few years in a row. He just has a very simple yet complex approach to food and I am fascinated by how many products he personally sources from around his restaurant.
What can diners expect from your fall menu?
I try to be as seasonal as possible so you will see all the fall fruits and vegetables, squashes, apples, pears, cranberries, rutabaga. You will see a lot of the dishes change on the menu. A new dish will be fall squashes with farro, quinoa, kale and shepherd’s basket cheese from Valley Shepherd Creamery.
Fall Squash & Grains
Yields 4 to 5 entrée portions or a side dish for 10 to 12.
1 medium delicata squash
1 medium butternut squash
1 cup farro
1 cup black quinoa
1 bunch tuscan kale, julienned
¼ cup mascarpone
1 cup shepherd’s basket cheese, shaved
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
Sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
Cook quinoa by bringing 2 cups of water to a boil, add in 1 teaspoon sea salt and a sprig of thyme. Reduce to a simmer and cook until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.
Cook farro by rinsing it in cold water and then placing in a pot. Cover with water, add a sprig of thyme and bring to a simmer. The farro should be cooked in 30 minutes of once it is tender. Drain off any excess water and set aside farro.
Peel the delicata squash and cut in into medium-large dices. Toss with olive oil, sea salt, and fresh ground black pepper and lay flat on a sheet pan. Place into a pre heated 400 degree oven until squash is tender and has a roasted color. About 10-15 minutes. Set aside.
For the butternut squash, split it in half, remove the seeds, toss with olive oil and salt and place flat side down on a sheet pan in the 400°F oven, until it is a little soft to the touch. About 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven once completely tender and scoop out squash flesh into a blender. Blend on high until a smooth puree has formed.
Toss pumpkin seeds with olive oil and sea salt and toast in an oven at 350 degrees for 5-8 minutes until starting to turn a little brown.
When you’re almost ready for dinner, heat up farro, quinoa, butternut squash puree, mascarpone, kale, half of the shepherd’s basket cheese, and 2 cups water. Cook until all ingredients are combined well and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Add in roasted delicata squash at the end. Once creamy and heated thoroughly place on desired bowl / plate and top with shaved shepherd’s basket cheese and the toasted pumpkin seeds.
All photos by Cayla Zahoran.