Introducing Celebrity Chefs David Burke, PJ Calapa, and Leah Cohen

Headlining the Tasting Tour on September 25 from 7:00 – 9:00 PM will be returning chefs, David Burke and Josh Capon, as well as chefs PJ Calapa, Leah Cohen, Dale Talde and Justin Smillie. The third annual Fort Lee Restaurant Week will take place from Monday, September 24 through Sunday, September 30. Patrons will enjoy access to exclusive specials and prix fixe menus at 47 local restaurants in Fort Lee’s Town Center. For the full list of participating restaurants, visit

Fort Lee has the privilege of hosting these distinguished culinary professionals while they experience the culturally diverse dishes offered on the Tasting Tour on September 25 during Restaurant Week.

Each one of these chefs draws on unique professional and personal experiences that have led to owning and running multiple successful restaurants and becoming leaders in the hospitality industry. This week, we would like to introduce you to three of them.

Chef David Burke

David Burke is returning again for another appearance at Fort Lee Restaurant Week! A New Jersey native, David Burke is a world-renowned chef and pioneer of American cuisine with over thirty years of experience in the culinary industry. He has built a strong reputation thanks to his dedication, innovation, kitchen products, and cooking techniques.

Chef Burke owns numerous critically-acclaimed restaurants, including New York City’s Tavern62 and Woodpecker. His latest venture, Drifthouse, is a seafood-dedicated restaurant located at the Jersey shore in Sea Bright. He has also received notable awards such as the New Jersey Red Cross’s 2016 Clara Barton Humanitarian of the Year and  American Cancer Society’s 2016 Taste of Hope Culinary Chef Honoree.

Chef PJ Calapa

Raised in Brownsville, Texas, Chef PJ Calapa has had a passion for a wide range of unique spices and flavors since early childhood.  This same passion has led him on a culinary career path that includes formerly working at the Michelin-starred Ai Fiori. He is an alumnus of Texas A&M and the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).

Chef Calapa is currently a partner at The Spaniard and the owner and executive chef at Scampi in New York City.  Located in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, Scampi, named after one of his favorite childhood restaurants in Texas, features bold flavors influenced by Southern Italy.

Chef Leah Cohen

Crediting her Filipino upbringing for paving the way to her prosperous culinary career, Chef Leah Cohen is the owner and head chef of Pig & Khao in New York CIty, as well as a former participant on Top Chef, season 5. She graduated from the Culinary Institute Association in 2003, receiving her bachelor’s degree in restaurant management. During her time at CIA she spent a 15-week semester externing for Chef David Burke at Park Ave Cafe. She has also participated in the Slows Food Program which led to an opportunity to work at Michelin-starred La Madia in Italy.

Chef Cohen returned to New York City and opened Pig & Khao NYC, a 74-seat restaurant serving Southeast Asian cuisine in 2012 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Her restaurant has received acclaim from publications like The New York Times, New York Magazine, and The Huffington Post for its street food-inspired dishes, ambiance, and inventive bar program.

Fort Lee’s third annual Restaurant Week will be held from September 24 through September 30, 2018. View the list of 47 participating restaurants at and be sure to make your reservations in advance to prevent long waits.

Don’t forget, we still have three more celebrity chefs to introduce you to! Check back next week to learn more about chefs: Josh Capon, Dale Talde, and Justin Smillie who will also be at the Tasting Tour during Restaurant Week!