Executive Chef - The Frog and The Peach
The Grand Tasting, Saturday March 16, 2013
A native son of NJ, Chef Bruce Lefebvre is readily acknowledged as one of the top culinary talents in the state. “His culinary background shows” enthused The New York Times. Cody Kendall of The Star Ledger, who awarded the restaurant four stars in 2002 when Lefebvre was made Executive Chef, raved about the “innovative American cuisine,” noting that the restaurant is “a relaxed spot for an evening of delightful surprises.”
Chef Bruce Lefebvre was born in Edison, but spent his formative years on the Jersey Shore in Sea Girt. Bruce’s first taste of a professional kitchen was at the age of 15 when he obtained the de rigueur first restaurant job as dishwasher at The Yankee Clipper, an oceanfront restaurant in the heart of the Jersey Shore. He was fascinated with the enormous stock pots, the beautiful raw ingredients that were delivered daily, and the crazy, hard-working chefs.
He pursued a traditional college-bound path, though, graduating from Wake Forest University with a degree in English but without a clear vision of his career. It took a soul-searching cross-country road trip to crystallize where his passion lay, and he applied to the Culinary Institute of America as soon as he returned home.
A few years older than most of his classmates, he was laser-like in making every minute of his culinary education count. Bruce chose to work with The Buckhead Life Group in Atlanta for his externship, a family-owned fine dining organization whose portfolio of very successful restaurants include The Buckhead Diner, Pano’s and Paul’s, and the Atlanta Fish Market. “I wanted to be a part of a restaurant group that had busy restaurants, “ says Bruce “the busier they were, the more experience I’d gain. And over the eight months I spent there, I honed my skills by working at each of their restaurants in many different positions.”
After graduating from The Culinary Institute in 1995, Bruce took a cooking position at The Frog and The Peach, honing his craft there under several chefs including Stanley Novak and Eric Hambrecht. In 1997 he left to work at Aureole with Charlie Palmer and during that time period he also worked as a stagiere at Daniel and at Lespinasse with Gray Kunz. After a brief stint as sous chef for Dan’s on Main in Metuchen to gain additional management skills, Bruce returned to The Frog and The Peach as sous chef in 2000; he was promoted to the executive chef position in the summer of 2001.
June 2010 marked the 27th Anniversary of The Frog and The Peach and Bruce’s 9th year in the top spot in the kitchen. He has trained many of New Jersey’s most highly sought after line cooks. He continues to receive top ratings in Zagat (26 for food), NJ Monthly (Best Lunch and among the top restaurants in the state) and The Star Ledger (four stars 2/07). Bruce is respected in the food community as a seasoned, level headed, forward thinking professional with good insights.
In describing his food Bruce says he uses “culinary common sense” combining proven flavor combinations in creative ways using a global palette of flavors to develop his modern American cuisine.