Chef's Profile: Chef Eric LeVine

I'm a petite person with a big personality. And I gravitate towards other big personalities. So when I met Chef Eric LeVine I knew right away he was someone I wanted to work with whenever I could. The more I learned about him, the more I thought his story could inspire others.

Chef Eric has survived cancer five times. Yup, you read that right, FIVE times! He was given 6-8 months to live...that was about 5 years ago. But some where in that mess, he took on a theory I've also come to subscribe to. That what you eat can be your greatest medicine, or your greatest poison.

So Chef Eric went vegan. Now, the man owns a gastropub, KNOWN for it's burgers (His Bacon Eater Burger was named one of the top 100 by USA Today Travel in May) and he stops eating animal products. He did it initially for his own health, but all of a sudden, this person who cooks for a living, is having trouble finding things to eat himself when he's out. So he starts looking at his own menu, and his own kitchen. Now the food is changing, becoming healthier. Taking out additives that make things work quickly in the kitchen and doing things the healthier, though at times, more difficult way. The menu changes, offering things so people of all dietary needs can come and have a MEAL. Not steamed veggies and rice. A meal, with friends, and feel like normal people. This is how his life has shaped what he does. Chef Eric says he feels he owes it to the universe to pay forward the chance he got. He's here still, so he has to DO something with that.

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Chef Eric is no longer vegan, but he is still conscious of what he eats and what he serves. He recently partnered his restaurants (there's 2 these days) with a local hydro-farm in Denville. And he procures as many local, Jersey Fresh ingredients as he can (so a handful of things come from P.A. that's still not that far in the grand scheme of food.) He also takes the time, when he can, to step out of the kitchen and talk to his customers. He wants to know the people in his dining room. He wants them to be happy. Above all, he wants to share with them his passion for food and life; and how the two are inseparable.  It's his need to live the life he got a second chance at, that touches everything he does - and it shows.