Avenue, the Côte d’Azur-inspired boardwalk brasserie in Long Branch on the Jersey Shore, announced recently the appointment of John Johnson as executive chef. Johnson took over Pier Village's Avenue kitchen in January and has launched his new winter menu.
Chef Johnson brings an impressive resume to the Avenue team; he launched the Water Club for the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, and his most recent post was executive chef for the Four Seasons Hotel in New York.
His arrival at Avenue is a return to his roots for chef Johnson. He grew up near the shore in Monmouth County, New Jersey, where his experiences imbued him with an appreciation for the local fruits of both the countryside and sea. “I'm excited to join the Avenue team," said Johnson. "It's a very special moment in my career to pair my passion for local and seasonal ingredients with all I've learned from so many talented chefs. Long Branch is a homecoming for me and a terrific opportunity to work with the amazing produce and seafood I grew up with."
One local ingredient that he’s tinkering with? The Atlantic Ocean. Chef Johnson is experimenting with making his own sea salt, straight from the surf rolling just beyond the restaurant’s wall of glass doors.
New techniques and preparations are reflected in chef Johnson’s winter menu, like his spiced duck steak with apple stuffed endive, walnut quinoa, and shinsu apples. To complement the bold new flavors found on the menu, general manager and director of Avenue’s bar program, Thierry Carrier, has created several cocktails showcasing winter citrus. Check out La Mezcaline, with Vida Mezcal, muddled clementine, fresh lime, and mint — it’s his smoky take on the familiar Mojito, which has assertive flavors that pair well with chef Johnson's charcuterie, including Serrano ham and duck.