Chef Jennie Werts will come to you.
The Greenport-based chef, known for her incredibly flavorful and interesting takes on comfort food at Ellen’s on Front, has expanded her horizons with the “Rent a Jennie” private chef program. The Ellen’s on Front team, which consists of Werts, her brother Andrew and general manager Bunnii Buglione, have found success with their private chef service, in which Werts creates a “restaurant in your home,” according to the chef.
Werts has done several private dinners so far with varied menus, all to great success.
“It’s up to [the client],” Werts said. “If they want a Cinco de Mayo party, I’ll come up with a menu. They can choose what they want. I’m pretty much willing to make whatever.”
Most Rent a Jennie clients, surprisingly, are not regular patrons of Ellen’s on Front. Buglione has found most of their clients in Facebook groups, answering inquiries about private chefs. Werts has brought the Rent a Jennie program all over the island, as far as Wantagh.
Another reason the program has been so successful is that Rent a Jennie is more affordable than your typical private chef, starting at around $150 per plate.
“To have a private chef in your home cooking a coursed-out meal for a number of people, it’s like having a restaurant in your home and you don’t have to worry about anything,” she said. “It’s worth it.”
Werts will always bring an assistant on a job, including some of the teenagers that work at Ellen’s on Front. The Ellen’s staff is made up entirely of locals, and Werts and Buglione try to give them a positive early experience working in the restaurant industry.
“All of our kids have been here for a while,” Buglione said. “The goal is to have them until they leave for college and then give them a place where they can come home.”
Ellen’s on Front has been open for three years, and has amassed a dedicated following in Greenport and the surrounding area. Werts’ menu includes sweet tea-brined fried chicken, fish and chips, steak and more. When you walk in, you’ll no doubt notice the trophy Werts has proudly displayed at the front counter, which she won at this year’s chili cook-off at Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. for both the judge’s and people’s choice awards.
In addition to Rent a Jennie, the Ellen’s on Front team has also just launched North Fork Affair, a full catering service.
Werts is flexible and can work with any kitchen.
“I’ll work with a hot plate and a microwave,” she joked.
Ellen’s on Front is located at 38 Front Street, Greenport. Check out ellensonfront.com.