As Hispanic Heritage Month draws to a close, we are excited to showcase six Hispanic chefs who are integral parts of New Jersey’s notable food scene. Each has a unique and inspiring journey to share.
Join us in getting to know these extraordinary NJ chefs a little better.
Bianca Concepcion, Chef, Fossil Farms, Boonton
Born in the Bronx, Chef Bianca Concepcion is a trailblazing Latina chef. She skillfully crafts top-tier dishes featuring exotic meats to guests at Fossil Farms in Boonton. Chef Bianca was introduced to cooking at a young age. Raised in a Puerto Rican household, she fondly remembers learning the pastel-making process from her grandmother during the holiday season. She and her siblings would do homework in the kitchen while their mom cooked.
Chef Bianca pursued her culinary education at Johnson & Wales University, in Providence, RI, where she spent four years and secured her initial culinary position at Eli’s Bakery and its sister restaurant, Gracie’s. This experience marked her introduction to the challenges of being a cook. Afterward, she returned to New York City, working at Greenwich Wallflower and later as a sous chef at the Freehand Hotel restaurant called The Studio.
Taking a hiatus for the demanding role of motherhood, Bianca never let go of her culinary passion. Post pandemic, she seized the opportunity to reenter the culinary scene, accepting a position as executive sous chef at Fossil Farms, where she was quickly promoted to executive chef.
Along with her collaborative team, she oversees and creates innovative, unique, and fresh dishes made with farm-raised and locally sourced products. Her creations include exotic dishes such as alligator, kangaroo, and wild boar.
Bianca holds a deep love for the classic Puerto Rican dish pernil y arroz con gandules (roast pork with rice and peas), and yuca escabeche (mojo).
“I am always adapting, always changing, always growing, and with that in mind, I became better and better,” she said.
David Rodriguez, Executive Chef, B2 Bistro, Toms River
Meet Chef David Rodriguez. With over 25 years of industry expertise he brings B2 Bistro in Toms River vibrant flavors of the Caribbean, drawing inspiration from his Dominican roots.
His journey began in a deli, where he was a dishwasher. This was where he first explored his culinary skills, becoming known for crafting delicious and creative sandwiches. He worked at several locations before landing at B2 Bistro nearly nine years ago.
As a chef, pinpointing a favorite dish can be tricky, but David shared that one of his favorites is chicharron con tostones, which is fried pork belly and fried plantains. This staple in the Dominican Republic has become an American fast-food dish over the years.
At B2 Bistro, David brings a unique twist to the dish, elevating it into a refined delicacy. “The creative freedom has no limits,” he said.
Eloy Leonor, Executive Chef, Washington House, Basking Ridge
Chef Eloy started his culinary journey as a child on his family’s farm in Puebla, Mexico, where he was inspired by his mother’s cooking. At the age of 16, he moved to New York in 1990, and got his first job as a dishwasher at a Greek restaurant. As a newcomer, Eloy had to adapt, learning a new language and making his way up the ladder.
With determination, Eloy learned to speak English and kept his desire to be in the kitchen alive. He went to the Ritz Diner in Livingston to get a busboy job and later landed his first line cook position. The rest is history.
Today, Eloy continues to be inspired by his now 80-year-old mother’s cooking. “She makes the best adobo and mole.”
Eloy mentors his team at Washington House and provides them with opportunities from entry-level positions to more advanced positions as their skills develop. You may also find him up on a ladder, picking apples from Washington House‘s own apple tree.
“I tell my team to love what you do, put in passion, prepare yourself mentally, and things become easy,” said Chef Eloy. “I am always happy. They think I’m crazy because I sing in the kitchen. Not well, but I sing.”
Jesus Delgado, Corporate Chef, Jarana, East Rutherford
Making a grand entrance into the American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, NJ, Corporate Chef Jesus Delgado brings Jarana. This spot serves up exquisite cuisine and specialty cocktails influenced by Peruvian flavors.
Raised in Peru, Chef Jesus’s culinary journey began in his family’s small market in Lima. From a young age, he was introduced to the kitchen, where he observed his grandfather. This early exposure fueled his passion, leading him to pursue a culinary education at Le Cordon Bleu in Lima, Peru.
He earned a degree in hospitality and tourism from the University of San Martin De Porres, in 2002. After holding various chef positions in Lima, Jesus made his way to the United States in 2012. His initial role was as executive sous chef at Tanta Chicago.
Jesus’s culinary expertise has been a major factor in his launch of worldwide establishments including La Mar, Manko in Doha, La Gare in Paris, and Terrat at MO Barcelona.
“Watching people enjoy and learn about authentic Peruvian food, creating new dishes for the menu at Jarana, and training new cooks is my favorite part of what I do,” he shared.
Executive Chef Juan Carlos “JC” Ortega, Blu on the Hudson, Weehawken
Executive Chef Juan Carlos “JC” Ortega of Blu on the Hudson stands as yet another inspiring culinary maestro. Coming to New York from Ecuador, in 1995, Ortega embarked on his hospitality journey. He got his first job at an Italian restaurant, where he learned the fundamentals of the culinary craft.
Today, he stands as one of the masterminds behind the restaurant’s opening. In a short time, he has steered the new eatery to become a hotspot in North Jersey. Stunning waterfront views and an extraordinary culinary experience centered around steak and seafood help define the restaurant as a true destination.
Always committed to staying on the cutting edge, JC frequently travels to South America, Europe, and Asia. His travels help him keep up with emerging culinary trends.
“All the uncomfortable moments in my career are the reason I’m comfortable today. And the uncomfortable moments I live today will make me better tomorrow,” he said.
Luis Pizarro, Executive Chef, Vine & Oak Tavern, Cranford
Originally from Argentina, Luis Pizzaro is the executive chef at Vine & Oak Tavern. He shows finesse in pasta-making and passion for his craft. Chef Luis draws inspiration from his fond memories of his mother and grandmother making homemade gnocchi. He also looks back on times when he indulged in his father’s famous barbecues.
From the flavorful chimichurri sauce complementing the steak to the selected bread and wine, Chef Luis shows an eye for detail in everything he does.
He began his culinary career in Sparta, at the Lake Mohawk Golf Club. Since then he has gained a wealth of culinary knowledge, bringing Vine & Oak an innovative approach to menu creations.
“What I love about my job is creating new menus and always having something special for guests to enjoy,” he said.