Meet Scott Anderson, 37, chef and co-owner — with Steve Distler — at elements restaurant in Princeton since 2008.

When did you first decide you wanted to be a chef ? While I began my restaurant career as a way to earn extra money in high school and at Rutgers, I soon realized I found my calling. I thrive on the insanity and fast pace of the kitchen as well as the camaraderie.

I began as a line cook at Baystreet Grill in Edison, New Jersey. I later joined the Terra Momo restaurant group where I spent six years helping to manage the kitchen at Teresa Caffe before becoming head chef at Mediterra in Princeton, and later at Nova Terra in New Brunswick.

When the opportunity to work as a line cook with Chef Craig Shelton at Ryland Inn arose, I jumped at the chance, despite a rather large pay cut. Shelton, who had trained at Bouley, introduced New Jersey diners to the tasting menu concept and the interplay between fine dining and wine. In fact, the Ryland’s farm to table atmosphere was one of the reasons I was so happy at Ryland.

Favorite item(s) on your menu: Our menu changes daily, I love to create new or reinterpreted items. Local produce as well as worldwide cooking styles will influence my work. It’s almost like you’re listening to the ingredients.

A green salad with citrus would not be exactly the same twice, nor would it appear the same way every time you order it. The best analogy is that of a jazz musician who constantly riffs on melodies to keep each experience fresh. True to the ingredients, and to its name, elements will feature simple-to-understand chords of flavors constantly reinterpreted.

We call it ‘Interpretative American Cuisine,’ because we think of our dishes as canvases and paint what feels right, while staying grounded in the essence of the ingredients.

Favorite locally grown ingredient: Celtuse (stem lettuce). I’m an avid gardener and outdoorsman, and I love to fish and forage in the local parks for wild edibles, be they ramps or morel mushrooms. Don’t be surprised if some end up on your plate.

Your mission: Our name — elements — speaks to our overall philosophy: a memorable dining experience depends on a harmonious union of elements — the food, service, and environment. We unite these key ingredients with the utmost passion, dedication and respect.

Accolades: Among the many accolades elements has received was a glowing notice in New Jersey Monthly’s listing of 25 Best Restaurants in 2010. And I just won the NJ Seafood Challenge, hosted by First Lady Pat Christie on June 30. I will represent New Jerey in in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans in August.

elements restaurant, 163 Bayard Lane, Princeton. Phone: 609-924-0078 Fax: 609-924-0083. E-mail: info@elementsprinceton.com URL: www.elementsprinceton.com

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