- Name: Greg Kassar, 53, is a gourmet chef with a culinary arts degree from Johnson and Wales University. This year, Kassar said he celebrates “40 years from the day I started” as a chef. The Kinnelon resident is the owner of the catering firm A Chef’s Affaire and head chef at the Rockaway River Country Club, where he also manages the club's pool and concession stand seven days a week in the summer. Kassar works 70 to 90 hours a week, every week, he said. Kassar also runs Snack Bar Heaven, the gourmet snack shack at the Kinnelon recreation baseball field on Boonton Avenue.
- Menu: Along with prime rib and Penne alla Vodka, regular fare at Snack Bar Heaven includes hot dogs and fresh hamburgers. But Kassar said he likes to “take it up a notch” with nightly specials like Broccoli Rabe and Shrimp in White Wine Sauce. All of the sauces, salads, steaks and ribs Kassar serves are homemade.
- Children: Kassar has a son, Gregory, 14, and a daughter, Emily, 9, who attend Kinnelon schools.
- Part of His Community: Kassar moved to Kinnelon in 1959 and grew up in the Fayson Lakes area of the borough. His involvement with Snack Bar Heaven began three years ago while his son was playing baseball. “It used to be dirty water dogs,” Kassar said. “As you can see from the menu outside, the Penne alla Vodka, that’s what gets them. No one ever thinks they’re going to see Penne alla Vodka at a snack bar.” Prime rib, steak, ribs and burgers are grilled-up fresh by Kassar outside the snack bar. Inside, Kassar waits on customers and manages local kids who show up nightly to help out. “The kids love it,” Kassar said. “They get to eat and it’s good. I teach them how to make change and talk to the public. They can use these skills in any deli, restaurant or job-anywhere.”
- Favorite Thing About Kinnelon: “It’s a great place to grow up and work,” Kassar said. “It’s our own utopia here. All of my friends, we’re all here. We all moved back here ‘cause we realized how great it was.”
- Current Activities: “I’m giving back to the town,” Kassar said. “People did it for us when I was young.” Kassar not only runs the snack bar so that families can count on a good meal at the baseball field, but he also provides food for end-of-the-year school celebrations and recreation department fundraisers. “We raise money so they can get things they need, like batting cages and a speaker system.”
- Career: “In this business you can’t look at this as a job, you have to look at it, basically, as this is something you’re going to do for life,” explained Kassar. “It’s a lifestyle. Not a job.” The chef studied at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI where he was classmates with Emeril Lagasse, he said. Kassar’s mother was also a gourmet chef who once had the opportunity to make dinner for the former New York Times food editor Craig Claiborne. “He loved it,” Kassar said of Claiborne’s reaction to the meal.
- Most Memorable Moment: In addition to the joy he experienced at the birth of his children, Kassar’s most memorable moments are “just everyday dealing with people,” he said. “And seeing them being happy by feeding them. It gives me happiness seeing other people happy, and food is a great way to express that.”
- Hobbies: “My hobby is cooking,” noted Kassar. “If you ever look at this industry as a job, you’ll die.”
- Philosophy: “Be happy.”
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