Chef Max Hansen announced today that he plans to open a 25,000-square-foot farmhouse catering venue in Hopewell Township.
The opening of the venue for weddings, corporate events and other catered gatherings is slated for the summer of 2017.
Hansen, a top area caterer in the region for the last 25 years, operates Max & Me Catering, Max Hansen Caterer and the Max Hansen Carversville Grocery in Bucks County, Pa.
The $7 million Hopewell project has been designed by architect J. Robert Hillier, and will become the new headquarters for Hansen’s entire operation.
“There is a gaping hole as far as catering is concerned in the Princeton area,” Hansen said in an announcement about the project. “We intend on bringing the freshest, highest quality food made from the finest ingredients anywhere to this venture. We’re excited to raise the bar in catering in the region.”
The 9.5 acre property is located at 328 Carter Road and can accommodate more than 300 guests inside, on an elevated deck overlooking a pond, and on a lawn adjacent to the pond. Located about 10 minutes from downtown Princeton, the farmhouse sits on a larger, 300-acre property, and is the anchor to an 82-acre business campus.
Hillier’s design calls for the removal of the existing farmhouse’s roof and construction of a modern barn structure, giving the original farmhouse, which was built in 1830, the look and feel of a renovated New England farm compound. The 1,700 square foot deck and lawn will allow guests the opportunity to enjoy the al fresco spaces when weather permits. Weathered exterior walls will be juxtaposed by plaster and massive windows next to a fieldstone walkway.
Hillier plans on using reclaimed and re-purposed wood for the building design, and hand-stacking stones for a fireplace that will be visible from the interior and exterior.
“One of the design features we’re really excited about is Studio Hillier’s modern interpretation of a classic New England structure,” Hansen said. “The farmhouse connects to the event space, and the deck will have a stunning view of the pond. We will also be landscaping the areas around the building with native and sustainable plantings. The level of sophistication and exclusivity is what this venue will be known for.”
The Hopewell Township Zoning Board approved variances for the project in January.
Hansen, who grew up in Bucks County, attended Vassar College and the New England Culinary Institute. After working in New York City, he returned to Bucks County in 1998 to launch his catering business and gained a reputation for being a premier chef in the region, and a top producer of artisan smoked salmon.
He has cooked for First Lady Michelle Obama, and former presidents George W. Bush, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton. He catered the National Football League’s cocktail party at the Meadowlands for Super Bowl XLVlll in 2014.
His new Hopewell headquarters will include a 7,000-square-foot commissary with a centralized kitchen. Hansen says the project will create upwards of 100 jobs, with a number of openings for kitchen and wait staff, along with many of part-time positions.
While the farmhouse will primarily be used for private affairs, Hansen plans to use the venue to host meetings, conferences, seminars and other corporate events, and gatherings for non-profit organizations in the area. He also plans to provide culinary services for the two business complexes on the property, which employ about 800 full-time workers.
Hansen said he will be introducing a world-class chef to run the culinary operation, and added that the new venue will contain high-tech audio and video capabilities. He eventually hopes to offer cooking classes at the facility. He also said he will be using many of the ingredients grown within a five-mile radius of the location, including fruits, vegetables, cheeses and other fresh foods from neighboring Cherry Grove Farms, Terhune Orchards and Blue Moon Acres.