He may live in New Jersey, but to hear chef Galen Zamarra talk about it, you’d think he was living in the wild. The chef and owner of Manhattan’s Mas (farmhouse) and Almanac lives in a charming four-bedroom Colonial in South Orange, right on the South Mountain reservation—a lush landscape of trails, lakes, and forests. “We walk out the door and go hiking, fishing, and foraging. It’s like a big wilderness right outside our door,” said Galen, who moved here with his wife Katie and their two kids (Edward is 6, Ellie is 8) six years ago. Together, they hit the trails, hunting and gathering ramps, greens, mushrooms and more, and then haul it down the mountain to the heart of their home: the kitchen.
Galen and Katie bought the 1930s home from its original owners, and knew that they would need to put a lot of love into the kitchen. “The original kitchen was very outdated, the floors were old, the walls poorly insulated,” said Galen. “There was an ironing board that came out of the wall. We set stools at it and used it as the kids’ table.”
The kids don’t eat at the ironing board anymore. In 2014, the Zamarras gutted the kitchen, redid the floors, put in big windows, and broke down the walls to a separate breakfast nook to make it one big room. They installed all quartz countertops, new cabinets, and built a wide peninsula to eat at instead of an ironing board. “The kids got upgraded,” Galen said.
He and Katie have filled the kitchen with antiques and treasures from their travels in Europe and New Orleans (where Katie is from and where they got married), and have it set up to fuel their mornings (with a pour-over coffee station), feed their kids breakfast (at the peninsula), and fire up their dinners (thanks to a DeLonghi stove). Have a look inside.
Andrea Strong’s writing chronicles the world of food—from farm to fork, and all the stops along the way. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine, and a host of other publications, including The Strong Buzz, her blog devoted to New York City’s food scene. She lives in Queens with her husband, her two kids, and her big appetite.