Guest Chef Wows MCCC Students with “Farm to Table” Culinary Expertise

By Candace Zafirellis
Josh Thomsen, executive chef/partner for the soon-to-open Princeton restaurant Agricola, recently came to Mercer County Community College as a guest chef for Advanced Culinary students.  Thomsen prepared several delectable items using organic ingredients that will be served at the new restaurant, including roasted delicata squash salad, chicken breast with pickled beets and celery root, goat cheese beignet, and a mixed berry cobbler for dessert.
A New Jersey native, Thomsen was named a “Rising Star Chef” by StarChefs in 2010.  A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, he has honed his skills at some of America’s most prominent culinary destinations, such as the French Laundry in Nappa Valley, CA, and at Michael Mina’s NobHill at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, NV.
Agricola, which means farmer in Latin, will offer rustic American “farm to table” dining.  Slated to open in the former location of Lahiere’s on Witherspoon Street in January 2013, the 160-seat restaurant will provide daily open dining, private events for up to 60 people, and a lively bar.
In his role as executive chef/partner at Agricola, Thomsen will offer a seasonal menu inspired by locally sourced organic ingredients, many of which will come from Great Road Farm, 112 acres of preserved farmland in Skillman.  About half of these acres remain wild and wooded while the other half are split into fields to grow crops for the restaurant.
“Simplicity’s always best,” said Thomsen of his new restaurant’s cooking style.  “When I think of ‘farm to table’ I think of the local guy who just grows kale.  That’s where the simplicity comes in; letting the best stuff you have come through.”
Jim Nawn, owner of Agricola and Great Road Farm, is the managing member and founder of Fenwick Hospitality Group, LLC, which was first formed in 1999 to develop Panera Bread bakery-cafes in northern and central New Jersey.
MCCC offers associate degrees in Culinary Arts, Culinology, and Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management.  Guest chefs are invited regularly to enhance the classroom experience for students.  More on the college’s program offerings can be found at