JOCEF Dishes Up ‘Recipe for Success’


Staff who previously worked with Joe Romanowski, left to right, standing: Drew Araneo, Mike Maxwell, and Erik Weatherspool; (seated) Rick Willgerodt, Maggie Lubcke, Chris Atamian and Karen Farrell. Photo credit: James Connolly

The Joe Romanowski Culinary Education Foundation (JOCEF) will host its annual “Recipe for Success” gala on Monday, March 19, 6:30 p.m. at the Navesink Country Club, 50 Luffburrow Lane, Middletown. The Foundation was established in the memory of Chef Joseph Romanowski who mentored and nurtured many of the Jersey Shore’s finest up-and-coming chefs. Romanowski was chef and owner at his highly acclaimed restaurants, Joe and Maggie’s Bistro in Long Branch, and Bay Ave Trattoria in Highlands.

Funds raised are awarded as scholarships to students at the Culinary Education Center – a collaboration between Brookdale Community College and the Monmouth County Vocational School District. Since the nonprofit was formed in 2014, JOCEF has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships.

“Recipe for Success” is an evening that features tastings from over 20 of the Jersey Shore’s best restaurants, samples of beer, wine and spirits, an oyster bar, the opportunity to taste rare wines by the glass and live, silent and chance auctions. Big Joe Henry of New Jersey 101.5 will once again be the emcee for the evening.

In honor of the five year anniversary of Recipe for Success, chefs that worked with Joe Romanowski at his restaurants will be grouped together and will present dishes that represent their experiences cooking with Joe. (Drew Araneo, Ryan Strubbe, and Erik Weatherspool worked at Joe and Maggie’s Bistro. Chris Atamian and Karen Farrell worked at Bay Ave Trattoria.)

Students from the Culinary Education Center will assist the chefs at their stations and present a tasting station to represent the school.

For more information, sponsorship opportunities and tickets visit    

Participating restaurants and businesses include: 2nd Floor Restaurant, B2 Bistro & Bar, Blu Grotto, Cafe Mumford’s, Culinary Education Center, Danny’s Steakhouse, d’jeet?, Drew’s Bayshore Bistro, Lusty Lobster, Piccola Italia, Porcini, Raven & the Peach, Salt Creek Grille, Semolina Catering, Sickles Market, The Vintage Cake, Trama’s Trattoria, Tuzzio’s, Val’s Tavern, and Ye Olde Pie Shoppe.

Wine, beer and spirit tastings by: Astral Tequila, Constellation Brands, Folio Fine Wine Partners, J Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Opici Wine Group, Shore Point Distributors, and Stateside Vodka.

Auction items include: Dinner for 8 courtesy of Salt Creek Grille; Sunset Cruise to Nowhere courtesy of Captain Doug Douty;

Custom Men’s Suit courtesy of Michael Duru Clothiers; “Wagon of Cheer” Cooler of Premium Liquor courtesy of Fedway; “Cooler of Deliciousness” Premium Seafood and Meats courtesy of Tiger’s Tale Restaurant and Lusty Lobster; Gift Certificate Tree – a beautiful tropical plant laden with gift certificates from the best restaurants at the Jersey shore and a Wine Pull.