As MercerMe reported last month, Hopewell Township approved an application by Princeton Farmhouse LLC to convert an existing 25,000 square foot farmhouse, abutting a corporate office park, at 328 Carter Road into a catering venue for weddings, corporate parties and other large catered affairs.
The location will be the new home to Max Hansen Caterer, which has been in business for a total of 25 years also as Max & Me Catering and the Max Hansen Carversville Grocery in Bucks County throughout that time. Hansen plans to open by the summer of 2017 and the location will also become the new headquarters for his entire operation.
“There is a gaping hole as far as catering is concerned in the Princeton area,” said Hansen. “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 venue can accommodate more than 300 guests inside, on an elevated deck overlooking a pond, and on a manicured lawn adjacent to the pond. The project will be designed by by Studio Hillier, one of the foremost architecture firms in the world, which is run by husband-and-wife architects Barbara and Robert Hillier. The farmhouse sits on a larger, 300-acre property, and is an anchor to an 82-acre business campus. It is located a short seven minute drive from downtown Princeton, and is centrally situated between New York City and Philadelphia.
Studio 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 beside a fieldstone walkway. Studio Hillier plans on using reclaimed and repurposed 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,” said Hansen. “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.”
Hansen, who grew up in Bucks County, attended Vassar College and the New England Culinary Institute. He gained his cooking chops under the tutelage of iconic chef Thomas Keller and culinary titan Michel Rostang in Manhattan. In 1998, Max decided to return home to Bucks County to launch his catering business and quickly gained a reputation for being a premier chef in the region as well as one of the top producers of artisan smoked salmon in the country. Since then, Max’s experience has seen him cook for First Lady Michelle Obama, former Presidents George W. Bush, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, as well as the 2000 GOP Convention in Philadelphia. Most recently, Max and his team were hand-picked to cater the National Football League’s cocktail party at the Meadowlands for Super Bowl XLVlll in 2014, and for the New Jersey Manufacturers’ 100th Anniversary Celebration, in addition to many other high-profile events.
Max Hansen will be relocating his entire culinary base of operations from Doylestown to the Princeton farmhouse, creating a state-of-the-art, 7,000 square foot commissary with a centralized kitchen for his business. The project will create upwards of 100 jobs, with a number of openings for kitchen and wait staff, along with a multitude of part-time positions.
While the farmhouse will primarily be used for private affairs, Hansen and his team also plan to utilize the venue to host meetings, conferences, seminars and other corporate events, and in support of the amazing community of non-profit organizations in the area. Chef Hansen also plans to provide culinary services for the two business complexes on the property, which employ roughly 800 full-time workers.
Hansen will be introducing a world-class chef to run the culinary operation, and notes that the new venue will contain high-tech audio and video capabilities for his bridal and corporate guests to enjoy. He eventually hopes to offer cooking classes at the facility. Hansen will also be utilizing 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.
“Off-premise catering has always been an ‘away game’ for the past two and a half decades, but now we’ll have an on-site, ‘home-court’ advantage,” explained Hansen. “I am so excited to be taking our game to an entirely different level, combining a spectacular venue with exceptional food that’s prepared and served by an incredible team of passionate hospitality professionals.”