A new chef is coming to Mertens Prime in downtown Grand Rapids. He's not just any chef, he's a James Beard award-winning chef whose career has taken him all over the world.
Chef Paul Berglund went to college at the University of Michigan and joined the navy after spending time in Japan and Washington State. He started his cooking career in Oakland, California, at an Italian restaurant called Oliveto.
From there, he moved to Minneapolis and started a restaurant called The Bachelor Farmer, focusing on Nordic cooking as well as upper Midwestern Regional American food.
After recently winning the James Beard Award, a huge honor for chefs, he decided to move back to Grand Rapids. Chef Berglud's new home kitchen is at Mertens Prime, which bills itself as a retro-chic brassiere serving French classics.
Berglund says there is not one French-style cuisine but in fact multiple. Menus often reflect the region as well as the chef's personality, which will be the case as Chef Berglund takes over the role of head chef at Mertens Prime.
"I'm a craftsman," said Chef Paul Berglund. "I really focus on the raw ingredients and honoring the ingredients. The ingredients were grown with a lot of care, so I like to shepherd them onto the plates with care. I really want the ingredients to shine."
While Mertens Prime is currently closed, Chef Berglund is adjusting the menu and he's also overseeing Cafe Mertens, which offers French Street Food. He's also overseeing 9th Street Steaks, which has one of the city's most sought after Philly Cheesesteaks.
Both establishments are open seven days a week for takeout and delivery.