My name is Alysis Vazquez and Chilltown Kitchen is my story!
In the summer of 2014, I left my position at a well-respected Manhattan restaurant to branch out on my own. I thought that I wanted to start a food truck because it requires less capital up front and relatively less overhead. Food Network and movies like Chef don’t tell you, however, that it takes “a village.” Not only are you now a restaurant owner, you become a mechanic, a truck driver, and a lawyer that specializes in parking tickets.
Learning what you are not fond of is just as valuable as learning what you love. After a few months of working for the truck, I realized that it wasn’t for me. What I did like was the interaction with my guests. Making the food, talking to people, and then seeing them enjoy the fruits of my labor –it doesn’t get more satisfying than that!
I have learned this satisfaction from my family, a family of cooks. I was born out of a mixed American-Dominican family. My mother, the American side, never let me stay or go to other friends’ houses just because she was not sure “what they would feed me.”
My grandfather, of Dominican ancestry, took me shopping to farmers’ markets, to the butcher –who would cut and slice our fresh meat–, and to hunt for fresh veggies and ripe fruits.
The College experience
I was the first one in my family to go to college. A natural field to fall into was Latin American Studies with a Minor on Anthropology; I guess you need to know who you are and where you’re coming from to find your true vision in life.
I also took a study abroad in Bolivia, a poor country that impressed me with the freshness of their food and their groceries. Because people cannot afford to go out to eat, they cook and they grow their own produce. I wanted to bring that freshness to America!
All through college, I worked at restaurants as a server to pay my way through. I graduated in 2008 –the middle of the Great Recession –, and continued to work for restaurants.
Finally in 2012 I applied to the formerly French Culinary Institute in Manhattan, now the International Culinary Center. During my studies there and in my senior year, I was offered an unpaid internship for one month at Crafts New York with chef Tom Colicchio, a James Beard award-winning restaurant. After the month, I was asked to run a whole station –and I even had an assistant!
I believe this opportunity came my way because I realized that in a man’s world, I had to work harder to be considered. I listened and was not afraid to recognize my mistakes. I applied my creativity and even if I would come out as a shy person, I’ m a good observer and I quickly gain confidence once I take control of the situation.
Chilltown Kitchen and Supper Club, a new food experience
After a year and a half, my direct chef boss was leaving and I decided to refocus my energies to start Chilltown Kitchen, a Jersey City based catering company that specializes in sourcing locally. To my surprise, the community response was tremendous leaving me busier than I could manage alone.
While working at the previous restaurant, I became very close with three colleagues that I had grown to trust and respect. They decided to come onboard and help Chilltown Kitchen grow. That’s how the Chilltown Supper Club was born. Supper clubs are common in Manhattan and LA- but not Jersey. For whatever reason, Jersey is seen as less sophisticated or not metropolitan enough to appreciate the finer things. The four of us knew better. If we saw an opportunity to provide value to our community- they would appreciate it and they do!
Chilltown Kitchen hosts pop-up supper club that meets once a month at different locations. The idea of a pop-up is a new concept. It’s is the epitome of the entrepreneurial hustle. If you don’t have the resources to buy a restaurant, but you have the talent to build something amazing, what do you do? Well, you borrow someone else’s establishment and make it yours for the night.
When you come to a Chilltown Supper Club event, you become part of the family. A Supper Club event features a 6 course chef’s tasting menu and a large communal table. Imagine attending a dinner party at a friend’s house, meeting new people, and enjoying fantastic food. That’s the level of warmth you can expect from our events. We host an intimate and unique dining experience that is more memorable than a typical night out. We are all about building community so come with a friend or come alone. Either way, you’ll have a blast!
Our events sell out as soon as tickets are available. The best way to get in is to join the mailing list and get access to the pre-sale. If you are curious about Chilltown Kitchen and our monthly supper club events, visit www.chilltownkitchen.com to watch our videos and follow us on Instagram @chilltownkitchen to keep up with what we’ve got cooking!
Join us for our next Chilltown Supper Club at Park and Sixth Gastropub on September 28th!