Saddle River Inn pastry chef Leticia Meneses, 45, never considered working in a restaurant until she met her husband at age 22. His family owned the now-shuttered Cent’anni in Greenwhich Village, and the Caldwell College grad would often fill in when they were shorthanded, first in front of the house, then in the kitchen. After a few years, the Belleville resident embarked on her own culinary career and worked in various restaurants as a pastry chef until October 2014, when she landed at the venerated Saddle River Inn.
Let’s just start by saying that Valentine’s Day is not a particularly romantic night to eat in a restaurant. It’s crowded, it’s often overpriced, it’s hard to get a reservation to begin with.
Not even a year into his tenure as executive chef and co-owner of the Saddle River Inn, Jamie Knott is the happiest he’s ever been. The 33-year-old father of three took over the venerated 3 1/2-star Saddle River Inn with general manager David Madison this past February after spending time as a corporate executive chef with Esquared Hospitality, which runs the BLT restaurants, and as executive chef of Terrance Brennan’s Artisanal and of China Grill, both in Manhattan. Knott grew up in and is currently a resident of Nutley. Here he discloses the most he has ever paid for a meal, what goes into making his caprese salad and his current favorite dish at the Saddle River Inn.