Chef Gustavo Gutierrez, formerly the executive chef of The Ridge in Monsey, will be joining Chef Gabe Gilbert on March 10 at Sender’s Smoke Joint at 190 West Englewood Avenue, in Teaneck, for a one-night-only special menu of Cuban delicacies. Chef Gustavo, as he is known, is a well-regarded private chef and caterer who has competed on Food Network’s Chopped. He posts as “Hudson Chef” on Instagram.
Gilbert said Cuban flavors are something the Teaneck kosher foodie community hasn’t seen much of before. “We are doing this to bring in excitement and customers, and to do something different,” Gilbert told The Jewish Link. He added that in addition to offering Sender’s classic sliced brisket that night, the restaurant will serve an elevated version of Ropa Vieja (which translates to “old clothes”) as its signature dish. Ropa Vieja is a peasant-style Cuban stewed pulled brisket that will be served at Sender’s over rice and beans, and Chef Gustavo was eager to share its origins. “The dish was invented in Cuba, when there was a lack of protein. The meat was boiled in liquid and two meals were made from what remained. It became two dishes.
“But we are going to do the Ropa Vieja a little differently, because we are going to infuse smoke, with New American technique. The smoke will be very limited… just enough to enhance it, not overpower it,” said Gutierrez.
The menu will also include Chef Gustavo’s special “Grandma’s soup,” a favorite from The Ridge, which is “a chicken stock made from scratch, where we put four or five different root vegetables and then put the shredded chicken back into it and blend it, so it’s almost like a porridge. We might add lamb bacon and chives to elevate it,” he mused.
The menu will also include tostones (fried plantains) and malanga fritters, which are similar to a potato latke, but made with the malanga root. Chef Gustavo also thought he would do a play on Sender’s regular menu item of a mashed potato ball stuffed with meat. “I am as far from traditional as possible, so I will make it out of both green and sweet plantains and fried ground lamb,” he said.
A Cuban dessert is also planned: a pareve tres leches, a coconut-infused sponge cake with three non-dairy milks and finished with whipped cream. Shlomo Blasca of Royal Wines/Kedem, will return as he had on other special-menu evenings at Sender’s, to pour a variety of Scotches, vodkas and bourbons in the back seating area, where the fire pits will be lit to keep everyone warm.
Gilbert said the full menu will not be posted before the pop-up begins, to enable time for surprises and flexibility, and orders for the pop-up will not be taken online or via phone. “Walk-ins only that night. There will be plenty of room to eat outside or takeout,” he said.
The pop-up will be held on March 10 from 5 p.m. until sell-out. Learn more at https://www.sendersusa.com/.