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Menu Talk with Pat and Bret

Nick Liberato returns home to open The Borscht Belt

The celebrity chef and restaurateur opens a Jewish-style restaurant near where he grew up


Nick Liberato has spent the past dozen years or so in the limelight, as a chef on Bravo TV’s “Top Chef Masters” starting in 2009, followed by several years on Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue,” numerous appearances on the Food Network, and most recently in a Netflix series “Restaurants on the Edge” that debuted last year in the early months of the pandemic.

But he’s also an accomplished restaurateur, growing up working at his parents’ produce stands and then moving to California to surf, and possibly to work in film, but he soon found himself cooking in restaurants and consulting throughout southern California.

In 2014 he took over Venice Whaler, a beachfront bar and restaurant in Venice Beach, Calif., where he actually took some of the lessons he learned working on “Bar Rescue” to more than triple the business’s revenue. Since then he has been “uplifting” other properties with beautiful oceanside views but mediocre food and beverage — part of the impetus for “Restaurants on the Edge” — and is now the executive chef and partner of Venice Restaurant Group, which operates Cartolina and The Pier House as well as Venice Whaler, all in Venice Beach.

In March of last year Liberato drove home to the Philadelphia area with a big project in mind, but his plans changed, as so many people’s did, as the pandemic hit, and instead he and his business partners have opened Borscht Belt, a Jewish-style deli in Stockton, N.J.

Liberato recently discussed his journey with us.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

TAGS: Chefs
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