Our Blue Morel Chef Team


Chef Thomas Ciszak
Executive Chef/Partner, Chakra Restaurant (Paramus)
TLC Restaurant Group Chef/Director, Blue Morel (Morristown)

Thomas Ciszak is one of the Northeast’s most acclaimed chefs. 

Under his direction, Blue Morel offers modern, local, American farm-to-table cuisine.  Accessible and approachable, Blue Morel’s new menus feature dishes that range from old family recipes to playful twists on contemporary American favorites—in addition to the award-winning sushi and raw bars for which Thomas is famous.

Born in Germany and trained at top schools and restaurants in his home country, Chef Ciszak came to the United States in 1994.  His work grew noticed and he gained great popularity first at The Manor in West Orange, then at Tavern on the Green in Manhattan. From there, he joined The Fireman Hospitality Group as opening Executive Chef at Shelly's New York. In 2005, Chef Ciszak launched Copeland (now Blue Morel) at the Westin Governor Morris to universally outstanding reviews.[Read More]

Building on his culinary talent and business acumen, Chef Ciszak launched TC Culinary Solutions in 2006, consulting nationally for a number of high-end hotels and restaurants.  In August 2010, Chef Ciszak announced the merger of his company with Jason and Peter Longo and Philip Chiaramonte, owners of Chakra in Paramus, NJ, to form The TLC Restaurant Group, which owns, operates, and manages a variety of restaurant concepts in the New Jersey region. 

TLC’s first project was the relaunch of Chakra, with Chef Ciszak as Executive Chef/Partner.  His newly energized and reconfigured menus there received a rave 3-1/2 star review from The Record's Elisa Ung, who noted, "The space is as dramatic as ever, but the real star is what's on your plate." (12/3/10, http://www.northjersey.com/food_dining/111247849_Non-snob_appeal.html).

Chef Ciszak’s appealing international, multicultural menus are sophisticated but accessible. His food is presented thoughtfully and without pretense. A unique style that melds his European approach and American experience.

Executive Chef Kevin Takafuji

Kevin Takafuji brings an extensive background in modern French and American cuisine to his position of Executive Chef at Blue Morel Restaurant and Wine Bar in Morristown, NJ.

Originally from Waianae, Hawaii, Takafuji is a graduate of the University of Arizona and The French Culinary Institute in New York City.  Prior to joining Blue Morel, he served as Chef de Cuisine at 2941 Restaurant outside of Washington, D.C.

Takafuji has held positions in Pluckemin Inn and in acclaimed New York City restaurants including Le Bernardin with Eric Ripert, Cello with Laurent Tourondel, Café Boulud with Andrew Carmellini and both Town and Country with Geoffrey Zakarian

Executive Pastry Chef Ernie Rich

Executive Pastry Chef Ernie Rich, a native of New Jersey, spent 20 years working in NYC and Philadelphia. Chef Rich had the opportunity to come to Copleland in 2009 and again in 2011 at the Blue Morel. In February 2009, Chef Rich created the world’s largest Girl Scout cookie in Philadelphia to mark the 75th anniversary of the first sale of commercially baked Girl Scout cookies.

Helming the pastry departments at Scalini Fedeli NYC (which he helped open with fellow New Jersey Chef Michael Cetrulo), The River Café, The Moshulu, Gauguin at the Plaza and Bridgewaters has well prepared him for the challenge of developing desserts to complement the unique cuisine of Chefs Thomas Ciszak and Kevin Takafuji. Chef Rich, an Honors Graduate of Johnson & Wales University, still resides in Central New Jersey with his wife and son.