An Executive Chef Is Born and Harrogate Has Him!

Posted on October 10, 2019 By

The secret Ocean County Harrogate residents, families, and staff have known for a long time will be revealed on October 24. They have had a top chef for the past 17 years! And their top chef, Joe Alonzo, who began his culinary career at age 13, will be serving butternut squash pumpkin bisque with a cinnamon spiced crouton and a homemade triple chocolate explosion Napoleon, just two of his specialties, at the October 24 fundraiser for Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus (MMCSC) Foundation, Flavors of the Jersey Shore Food & Wine Festival beginning at 6:00 p.m.

Joe’s culinary career began the very night his father opened the family’s new restaurant in Manhattan near the Algonquin Hotel. When a waiter did not show up for work, Joe’s father had no alternative but to give Joe, age 13, a pad and pencil and send him to work. Joe made about $20 dollars in tips that day; but more importantly, he found his life’s calling – serving people.

After that first day, Joe wanted to learn everything about the dining business. He was the dishwasher, the salad person, the appetizer guy — you name it, he did it. Joe recalls that his family always revolved around food. His grandfather was a butcher and Joe would watch his grandmother cook different meals. His talent was recognized quickly, winning Home Economic awards in elementary school.

After high school, Joe attended the New York Restaurant Culinary School, attending classes during the day and working full time in the restaurant at night. Joe was especially interested in European cuisine. He often accompanied chefs at the restaurant to the meat and Fulton fish markets to buy ingredients, but the chefs were very secretive about their recipes and hid the ingredients from him. It was then Joe learned to depend on his taste to identify the seasonings in a dish so he could replicate it. At age 19, Joe became Executive Chef.

After graduating culinary school, Joe traveled to St. Thomas as an executive chef, working at Ill Villago, an Italian restaurant. Eventually, he came back the U.S. as the executive chef for Uba Tuba Restaurant in Long Island, earning 5 and 4 star status from reviews by Newsday and the Daily News.

With his wife and young children, Joe longed to return to his roots, a family home in Point Pleasant where his family had a summer home. He accepted a position at Villa Victoria, a local restaurant, again earning a 4-star review from the Asbury Park Press. He was also the executive chef for the Holiday Inn in Toms River.

In 2002, living in Bayville and with the birth of his youngest child imminent, Joe wanted a better work and family balance. He discovered Harrogate Continuing Care Retirement Community on the border of Toms River and Lakewood. Harrogate offered Joe the opportunity he was seeking – to continue to provide the cuisine he is passionate about, engage with people, and be available for his family.

The residents of Harrogate, an independent living community, say they could not be happier. Joe is always willing to please, trying new recipes and often replicating the family recipes residents provide. He serves about 600 meals a day to residents, who can order from an extensive menu.
On October 24, 2019, Chef Joe is participating in the Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus (MMCSC) Foundation, Flavors of the Jersey Shore Food & Wine Festival, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the showroom of Pine Belt Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, 1400 Ocean Avenue, Lakewood. Tickets are $100 each and include food and wine tastings, and music by the Mike Dalton Band. Proceeds will benefit cancer services at MMCSC. For more information, call 732 886 4438 or

About Harrogate:
Harrogate, an independent living not-for-profit corporation on 52 private acres at 400 Locust Street, Lakewood, N.J., offers 254 apartment homes from studios to two bedrooms with two baths, a spacious patio or balcony, fully equipped kitchens, individual storage areas, ample parking, private garages, gardening areas, walking paths, flowers, and vegetable gardens. A pet friendly community, Harrogate offers a variety of events, such as cultural and educational programs and opportunities, lectures, trips to the opera, concerts, and local and regional points of interest. Harrogate has offered LifeCare living since 1988, with lifetime skilled nursing, and rehabilitation and memory support services.

A percentage of a one-time entrance fee is refundable to the resident or to the estate. A monthly service fee covers interior and exterior maintenance, utility bills, meals, housekeeping, and the use of every community service, amenity, and convenience. The IRS has determined that a portion of the initial entrance fee and a portion of the monthly service fee is a deductible medical expense, whether a resident receives skilled nursing services or not during the year. The fee also covers real estate tax and itemizes it so it’s tax deductible.

For more information call 732-942-5272 or visit