The opening of Summit House marks the culmination of almost two decades of training and a lifetime of education for Martin Kester, our executive chef. He joins the restaurant after spending six years as chef de cuisine of Ninety Acres in Peapack, New Jersey.
Named in 2015 by the Star-Ledger as one of five New Jersey chefs "you probably don't know, but should," Chef Martin was born and raised in the Garden State, learning at a young age to appreciate the bounty of the seasons thanks to parents who couldn't refuse the call of a roadside farm stand or ways to celebrate cuisine in everyday life. His appreciation of the culinary arts only grew with experiencing the earth-bound cuisines of Europe while backpacking.
A 2003 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Martin has held key positions in highly rated kitchens throughout New Jersey. In preparing for the opening for Summit House, he spent time in some of the top kitchens in the area, including The NoMad in New York City; Elements in Princeton, New Jersey; and two weeks at Chef Dan Barber's famed Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York.
He's used all his experience to perfect a straightforward yet refined cooking style that values fresh ingredients sourced from neighboring farms, fishermen, purveyors and beyond.
Chef Martin himself owns a 1,000-square foot home garden, where he grows an array of organic tomatoes, black figs, vine-ripe blackberries, among other fruits and vegetables. He also raises egg-laying hens in a free-range coop.
“I’m obsessed with my garden; I work on it any free moment I get,” he says. “It brings our family together. We love teaching our children how to savor each of the approaching seasons and the importance of where food comes from."