Not even a global pandemic can stop Chef David Burke from creating new exhilarating dining experiences. Orchard Park by David Burke is his latest masterpiece, located in the new equally fabulous Chateau Grande Hotel on the 15-acre campus of Park Chateau Estate and Gardens, East Brunswick. The hotel and restaurant are set to open in early December.
Park Chateau is one of three of the state’s top wedding venues owned by Vito Cucci and brothers Joe and Barry Maurillo, who also own Park Savoy, Florham Park and Nanina’s in the Park, Belleville.
Orchard Park will certainly raise eyebrows,” said Burke. “This project is one of finest build outs in my entire career. It will be the best in the state and is poised to be a landmark destination hotel and restaurant,” declared Burke.
The stunning, spacious 5,700-square-foot restaurant with 170-plus seats inside and over 70 on the outdoor terrace was designed by the internationally awarded Lemay + Escobar Architecture, New York City. This is the second restaurant design project for Andres Escobar and Burke.
The interior design includes classic, mid century and modern styles creating a timeless, eclectic sensibility. It includes a large rectangular bar and lounge, main dining area with booths and tables, chef’s table and wine room accommodating 30 guests with Burke’s signature illuminated pink Himalayan salt brick wall.
The Himalayan salt plays a key role within Burke’s award-winning signature culinary style. His prime beef is aged in special aging rooms lined with the salt giving his steaks their famous succulent flavors. He was awarded a U.S. patent for the process. Many of his 15-plus restaurants located throughout the U.S. incorporate a salt brick wall within their design.
“My goal was to design an American Brasserie with a European feel,” explained Escobar, the architect. “David and I wanted people to feel welcome and comfortable like in France, whether you are wearing jeans or you are dressed up. The open kitchen lends to that as well. In the end David does things that please him and as a result people love it too. He’s whimsical, creative and fun with an amazing culinary talent.”
Burke attributes the project’s success to the collaborative work done by the teams involved, whom he calls “real pros” from the designer, members of his own executive team, the project’s general contractor to the Park Chateau owners.
“The teams all contributed ideas to improve the design. It was a give-and-take process. Actually, it’s been enjoyable,” explained Burke. “Not only are the owners wonderful people they are experienced hospitality professionals. They attend all meetings, they listen and everybody’s opinion is respected. It took three days just to choose the napkins, the logo too. The process has made the project one with staying power. From the ground up, this is a world class project. We are all in this for the long run. I’m going to ride into the sunset sitting in my rocking chair on that patio.”
Co-owner Joe Maurillo – who said over 300 weddings are booked for next year at the adjacent, magnificent catering facility, Park Chateau Estate & Gardens, that resembles a fine French country estate – agrees with Burke, the project is the finest in the tri-state region. “Collaborating with Chef Burke and his team has brought us to a whole new level”. The owners of the top three wedding venues in the tri-state area, The Park Savoy Estate, Nanina’s in Park, and The Park Chateau Estate & Gardens have tied-the-knot with the top celebrity chef in the tri-state & country, Chef David Burke, “it’s a marriage made in culinary heaven,” said Maurillo.!
For Burke the project is a dream come true too. Of his numerous restaurants this was his first complete build-out project. Burke, often recognized for his appearances on TV’s ‘Top Chef Masters’ has culinary accomplishments that are far more impressive than his celebrity fame. He is the only American to ever win the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France Diplome d’Honneur. Burke also took home the Japan’s Nippon Award of Excellence and the Robert Mondavi Award of Excellence among numerous other prestigious awards.
Recognized as a leading pioneer of modern American cuisine, Burke has personally experienced the emergence of the commercial kitchens from the darker, hidden regions of a restaurant to its forefront becoming part of the whole dining experience. To have a new restaurant built to his specifications has been a life-long aspiration.
“The open state-of-the-art kitchen actually protrudes into the dining room,” said Burke. “The chef can literally serve and clear tables as he expedites dishes, interacting with guests. The shelf where plates are stacked waiting to be prepped are lit with Italian chandeliers. I couldn’t be prouder of the results and my chefs who have been with me for a long time are happy to be working here. Orchard Park, and the hotel – designed by another firm and equally fabulous – has an impressive wow-factor.”
The menu is reflective of the restaurant’s design, serious food in a chic, elegant, casual setting, executed by Chefs Carmine Di Giovanni and Pedro Avila who are both veterans on the David Burke culinary team. Burke fans will recognize his signature, whimsical clothesline bacon, pretzel crab cake and highly awarded salt-aged prime steaks. There are some surprises too, such as house made pasta and made-to-order pizza baked in the kitchen’s pizza oven.
Joe Maurillo anticipates that wedding couples will treat a stay at the Chateau Grande Hotel similar to a destination wedding site at a romantic French chateau. Many wedding parties booked at both Park Chateau Estate & Gardens and The Chateau Grande Hotel for 2021 and beyond have elevated their wedding experience to offer hotel rooms for their wedding guests with stays at the new Chateau Grande Hotel.
“The Estate has everything a couple needs so they don’t have to waste precious time traveling here and there dealing with traffic issues. They can hold a rehearsal dinner at Orchard Park, their wedding at Park Chateau Estates and Gardens, return to Chateau Grande Hotel for an after party, wake up there and the next morning hold the recovery brunch right at the restaurant. We’ve created the perfect site to hold the destination wedding of your dreams right here in New Jersey.”