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Carl Ruiz is on TV—and in the Stud

Chef Carl Ruiz dishes up laughs during back-of-the-house training. Photos by Matt Furman.

Chef Carl Ruiz is no stranger to creating a kitchen.

A restaurant consultant who has helped celebrity chefs craft their brands, his own restaurant—Marie’s Italian Specialties, in Chatham, New Jersey—has been featured on The Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.” Most recently, he won the grand prize on Guy’s Grocery Games, in which 16 of the best chefs from Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives were pitted against each other.

But he had yet to tackle the college crowd. Until now.

Ruiz is the culinary spark behind TCNJ’s homegrown restaurant, Traditions, which officially opens on Monday, Feb. 29. Not only did he develop the menu and recipes, but also he spent a week on campus training the kitchen staff to prep and plate his creations.

Located on the first floor of Brower Student Center, Traditions will pick up where The Rat left off, mingling menu favorites from days gone by—like the classic Rathskellar Buffalo chicken wrap—with new items that are sure to become cravings. Chicken and waffles, anyone?

On the menu, you’ll also find things like Irish nachos, an onion-ring stack (Muha’s favorite), Green Goddess salad, roasted chicken dinner, housemade chips, and a deconstructed S’more trendily served in a Mason jar.

Chef Carl’s favorite part of the menu? “Try the schmear on the French toast,” he says. “It’s like a Ferrari.”

Just trust him.


  • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday 11 a.m.–10 p.m. / Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m.­–6 p.m.
  • You can pay with cash, cards, all meal points, and meal equiv from 11 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
  • 101 seats dedicated to dining, 22 lounge seats, and outside seating, which will open in the fall.
  • Bar will serve beer and wine.
  • Want take out? There will be a walk-up window for that.
  • A stage with a sound and lighting system will feature Rat-esque programming.

Emily W. Dodd ’03