NJ chef Ariane Duarte from Ariane Kitchen & Bar is now a caterer

Ariane Duarte, acclaimed chef and co-owner of the recently closed Ariane Kitchen & Bar (AKB) in Verona, can’t stay out of the kitchen.

With her husband and business partner Michael, Duarte started a catering service called CulinAriane, named after the couple’s first restaurant in Montclair. In late September, the couple shut down AKB after seven years and sold it to the Skopos Hospitality Group, owners of gastro pubs The Barrow House in Clifton and Cowan’s Public in Nutley, among others. Skopos has said he does not plan to make any major changes to the location and hopes to open this spring.

“I can’t stand still,” Duarte said when asked why she decided to respond. “I love to cook. That’s what I do.”

Ariane and Michael Duarte from Ariane Kitchen & Bar in Verona have been married for twenty-six years and work together on a daily basis.  Ariane is the chef of their restaurant while Michael is the manager.  Ariane says "Communication," is the key to their marriage and Michael emphasizes "forgiveness," as the secret of their success.

The couple have sold their house in Verona – the family’s hometown – and are renting a house in The Brick. They started catering in December.

“AKB customers always call us saying ‘We love your food’, ‘We miss your food.'”

A Culinary Institute of America graduate (just like Michael), Duarte worked at the Highlawn Pavilion in West Orange, where she cooked a special dinner at the end of November. She was executive chef at the Vine restaurant in New York; and appeared on “Top Chef” (2006), “Food Hero Mimi Kozma” (2015) and “The Next Iron Chef” (2007). She beat Bobby Flay on his show with a filet mignon which she proudly served at AKB with a potato-leek cake and a béarnaise sauce. Her thick juniper-dried pork chop was so popular she could never take it off the menu.

Duarte said she doesn’t have a set menu and will cook just about anything a customer wants. “I am the cook, Michael is the waiter.”

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The couple use AKB equipment that they did not sell to Skopos; many are gifts from Michael’s mother, who owned a restaurant in Elmhurst, Illinois.

“We have bread pans, all the baked goods and lots of platters,” she said. “We have a lot of equipment. I had to do something with it.”

Duarte said the couple will drive until an hour and a half for a catering concert. “We’re going to Pennsylvania. We’ve had a wedding in upstate New York,” she joked, “If you put us up, we’ll go anywhere.”

They require a minimum of 15 guests to organize an event. And, yes, Duarte will be happy to prepare Bobby Flay steak and pork chop for your guests, upon request.

For more information: [email protected]

Esther Davidowitz is the Food Editor for NorthJersey.com. To learn more about where to dine and drink, please sign up today and sign up for our North Jersey Eats newsletter.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @estherdavido

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