Denville Meat Shop is a specialty store off the main street in Denville offering quality all-natural meats, including dry-aged, a wide selection of take-home prepared foods, fine cheeses, imported condiments, GMO- and gluten-free breads and products, and more.
Orel, who owns the shop, was an executive chef prior to opening his shop, also offers extensive catering services ranging from barbecues to tailgating to more formal events. The busy entrepreneur also does private chef dinners.
JERSEY BITES: What is your earliest food memory?
Jeffrey Orel: Walking through my mother’s garden with a salt shaker.
We know you were a chef prior to opening Denville Meat Shop. Any interesting stories about where and with whom you started cooking professionally?
I have cooked all over the states and did an apprenticeship abroad.
What made you want to move away from restaurant kitchens to open a specialty food store?
Most corporations and privately owned companies are only concerned about bottom lines. My desire is sourcing out organic, locally grown, seasonal, quality products—working for those types of places did not satisfy my desire. Most of the cooks now are not cut from the same cloth as they used to be; the workforce has changed. I also wanted to do something that was close to my heart and that I was undeniably excited to do every day, and I found that when I had the idea to create a store that rooted itself in what I believe in. Our food sources have become contaminated and our goal is to correct that by bringing food back and available to our communities the way it used to be before chemicals. The crazy chef schedule was not difficult to talk me out of, either!
We know from visiting your shop that catering and prepared, on-the-go foods are a big part of your business. What are some of your most popular items?
All of our products are organically grown and pasture raised which is reflected in the flavor of our raw selections. With that said, our raw products are in high demand. We also prepare custom cuts like our porchetta, roulades, pates, wellingtons, tomahawk steaks, sous vide products, and more. Not too many butchers do these things. Having a cooking background allows me to prepare items that some butchers would not and this is another aspect that helps us to separate ourselves from other butcher shops.
What is the greatest opportunity that has come to you from cooking?
I would have to say that creating Denville Meat Shop was my dream and without cooking, this would never have happened. I wanted to create a place where we don’t just cut meat.
What is the most memorable meal you’ve had?
This is tough. I would probably have to say my meal at Minibar in DC! José Andrés threw down a tasting menu that blew me away. I had mozzarella that was glowing, clear pasta filled with liquid chorizo, tomato caviar, “dirt” that tasted like foie, and more—just outstanding!
It’s your last day on earth. What’s your final meal?
Just let me fire up the smoker, sit around with great friends and let the meat do the talking! That’s more of a final wish, but hey.
What is the best advice you have to share with future, hopeful chefs?
To be good you have to be dedicated, not entitled. Don’t expect to be paid for learning because most of the learning happens before or after your shift.
What restaurants do you enjoy dining at in New Jersey?
Redux, Escape (or the spot formerly known as Escape), Chakra, Highlawn Pavillion, 90 Acres, and my backyard! There are many places that I would love to visit so I am sure my list will get bigger!
Denville Meat Shop
28 Diamond Spring Road