John and Lisa Are Interviewing…Chef Michael Newkirk of Knife & Fork Inn

J&L: What do you like best about Restaurant Week?

Chef Michael: It’s a good opportunity for everybody to experience all the best Atlantic City has to offer.

J&L : What do you think about the current state of Atlantic City as a food destination?

Chef Michael: I think it’s up and coming. There have been a lot of great names and restaurants that have came about in the past five or so years. Places like The Pier, the restaurants along The Walk, and at The Borgata all are great examples of this.

J&:L: How do you keep the menu at a landmark like The Knife & Fork fresh and current?

Chef Michael: I like to keep the menu items seasonal and as fresh as possible. I like to get ingredients that can be found locally, produce, fish, etc. However, since we are such a landmark, there are certain staples on the menu that will always be there.

J&L: Are there any kitchen oddities that your staff has to put up with in an old, historical building?

Chef Michael: The Knife & Fork actually has a basement, which is where our prep kitchen is located, and in some areas the ceilings are just under 6 feet high. Also, most of our walk-in refrigerators are located outside so inclement weather often poses a challenge for us.

J&L: As you are located “off-Boardwalk”, do you find that you have to lure diners away from the casinos, or do they help to provide a steady stream of business?

Chef Michael: I think that being non-casino actually helps brings a steady stream of diners into the restaurant, because some of the hassle is taken away, such as parking and walking through a large area to find the restaurant. Many times casino guests are looking for a non-casino restaurant, so we do have concierges that call from the casinos to make reservations for hotel guests.

J&L: Would you say that the Knife & Fork has a strong connection with the community?

Chef Michael: Definitely. We have lots of regulars/locals, we also participate in many local fundraising events such as Men R Cooking and Harvest of Hope for The Alcove. In the past three holiday seasons, we have helped cook meals for the homeless.

J&L: What made you want to be a chef?

Chef Michael: My mom is my biggest inspiration. From a very young age I used to watch her and help her cook in the kitchen, and that’s where my earliest desire to be a chef came from.

J&L: What chef do you admire the most?

Chef Michael: Bobby Flay, because I really like his style of food and his attitude towards the business.

J&L: What other restaurants in town do you enjoy?

Chef Michael: Izakaya, Bobby Flay Steak, Fiesta Pizza for quick takeout or delivery and of course Dock’s Oyster House!

J&L: What would your last meal be?

Chef Michael: It’s pretty much impossible to decide on one food for my last meal, but if I had to pick one I’d say my mom’s tater-tot casserole, and for dessert lots and lots of chocolate.

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