For years John Chambal was accustomed to working in high-volume restaurant kitchens. Now singlehandedly he runs Good Food, Briarcliff Manor’s only créperie, where you’ll find this self-taught chef whipping up an eclectic menu of Asian, Greek, Indian and American food.
For six years, Chambal searched for a suitable location before finally opening Good Food seven months ago. He looked at several properties in Westchester before settling on Briarcliff, where he said customers appreciate the good food he serves and are open to trying different types of cuisine.
While Chambal has a steady stream of customers, it’s the introduction of a dinner service that has proved particularly successful. Customers can pick up their pre-ordered meals; for no additional charge Chambal will deliver. Chambal, who previously ran Custom Cuisine, a Tarrytown caterer, and also served as chef at the Knollwood Country Club in Elmsford, said the dinners are meeting a need.
“I believe I’m really filling a void in the community,” he said.
With no set menu planned from day to day, Chambal, whose wife, Alyssa Jacobs, is a nutritionist, often creates meals based on the ingredients he has at hand. A large fridge behind the counter contains vegetables, fruits, pinto beans, lentils and other ingredients that chefs rely on daily. He enjoys the freedom of being able to devise a fun menu that still satisfies the cravings and nutritional challenges of his customers.
Chambal often creates meals around a specific theme. For example, on Mondays, he might make a meatless dish; on Tuesdays, customers might choose from a seafood menu. Last Wednesday, the dinner menu included a number of soups, entrées and side dishes. A carrot ginger soup, a mushroom barley soup and a tomato basil soup were all on the menu, as was the chicken gumbo, quinoa and kale stuffed tomato and barbeque pork entrees. Sides included rice pilaf, red cabbage and apples with caraway.
Conscious of the health needs of his customers, Chambal never fries anything, preferring to bake, broil, sauté or boil. Instead of using dairy products, Chambal opts for extra virgin oil, and very small amounts of salt.
When Chambal, an Elmsford native, first went into business, he sold ice cream supplied by Jane’s Homemade Ice Cream in Kingston, but knew that wouldn’t sustain him throughout the year. Chambal then focused on dessert crepes, later adding salads and sandwiches made with fresh whole wheat honey bread, which he makes each morning, along with the savory crepes.
Chambal’s menu is prepared with the freshest of ingredients, much of it coming from local farms and is expert in mixing and matching the available food.
Lately, Chambal has been using plenty of squash and cabbage because they’re winter vegetables; in the summer months, he’s likely to experiment with zucchini blossoms and spinach, among others.
Chambal looks forward to his daily chats with customers, many of whom casually walk behind the counter to taste a soup he’s making or sample a slice of his freshly baked bread.
“When I had my catering business, I missed the satisfaction you’d get from people coming in and saying how much they enjoyed the food or wanting to order something special,” he said.
Plus, he loves the challenge of coming up with a completely different menu each day. “Let’s face it,” he said. “It’s a lot more fun this way.”
Good Food is located at 1205 Pleasantville Road. It is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. To place an order, call 914-432-7981 or find them on Facebook.