Chefs to Watch: Alex Sze of Juniper in Hastings

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Chef-owner Alex Sze

The 411 on Juniper.

Born: April 20, 1982, New York City

Grew up: Hamden, Conn.

Culinary school: Didn’t go. Graduated from University of Connecticut with a degree in biology.

Experience: Michel Richard Citronelle in Washington, D.C.; Adour, Alain Ducasse’s restaurant at the St. Regis Hotel in Midtown Manhattan; 10 Downing Food & Wine in Greenwich Village.

Cooking style: “My style is New American, so I borrow from all different cuisines. I also try to use local ingredients when I can. When the farmers markets are around, I go twice a week to buy fresh produce and incorporate whatever looks good into the menu.”

Signature dish: Chicken Two-Way. “It’s chicken confit (chicken legs slow cooked in duck fat), with country chicken sausage (made from the breast meat), served with a warm ragout of seasonal vegetables.”

Why he’s one to watch: Sze serves modern food that’s superbly balanced in tastes and textures — at affordable prices. He’s brought fancy and fabulous down-to-earth. This spring, he served a lovely striped bass with olive oil-crushed potato and a heart of baby romaine with smoked ham hock vinaigrette for just $19. The fish was flaky and succulent, the potatoes straddled a line between mashed and hash browns, and the meaty vinaigrette wilted the lettuce and gave it a big boost of umami. And the portion? About the size of a deck of cards. Sze’s version of upscale-casual is a standout because he serves such elegant food in so homey a setting — a lovely combination that is a first for Westchester.

Future influence: “I’m just here to cook and put out some food that’s tasty. I don’t think about being revolutionary. I just want to continue to make good food.”

Heather Salerno contributed. Photo by Tania Savayan/TJN.

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About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and lohud.com, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

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