Chef & Owner
JR was born June 24, 1967 in Providence, Rhode Island to Ron and Mollie Schoenfeld. JR has 2 older sisters, Terry & Kathy. He spent most of his childhood on the east coast and plenty of summers on his fathers’ sailboat.
His family moved to the Midwest and JR attended Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana graduating in 1985. He spent 2 years in college in New Orleans before moving to Indianapolis, Alaska and Vermont, becoming a student at New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier. JR met his wife, Cindy, at NECI. She worked for the school for 8 years mostly in an administrative role. JR, Cindy and their 3 children, Jessa, Nick and Lucas spent about 10 years in Vermont, moving several times to follow JR’s culinary career.
His culinary career began shortly out of high school. While in New Orleans he worked as a Server at Arnaud’s and then as a Function Captain at Diamond Black Tie Catering. JR then spent some time closer to his family in Indiana working as the Banquet Captain at The Canterbury Hotel, as a Sous Chef at Teller’s Cage/LaTour Private Dining and also as Sous Chef at The Wyndham Garden Hotel, all in Indianapolis. During these early years, he also spent some time in Alaska working as the Head Saute Cook for the Denali National Park Hotel. From there, he became a student at New England Culinary Institute interning at Sugarbush Inn as Garde Manger his first year and at Edson Hill Manor as Rounds Cook his second year, graduating in May 1992.
After graduating NECI, JR became Sous Chef for HH Binghams/Mount Mansfield Company in Stowe, Vermont. Within one year, he became Head Chef. Dartmouth College in New Hampshire was next on his agenda, becoming Executive Sous Chef. A restaurant called FireStones was in the making and JR became their Chef, responsible for the set up and redesign of a new concept. As this new restaurant struggled its’ first year, JR returned to Stowe, Vermont working again for Mount Mansfield Company as their Food and Beverage Manager for the entire resort. During this time, while the mountain was closed (seasonal), he took on some consulting jobs. At Stowe Inn at Little River he wrote menus, creating signature recipes, organized the kitchen, set up the ordering system and trained the staff. JR also worked with the Lamoille South Supervisory Union (the local school district), revamping and establishing new systems to make a successful self sufficient food service for 5 public schools.
Wanting to move back to the Midwest to be closer to our families, JR took a job as Executive Chef for PMI, working closely with the Green Bay Packers and all food service at Lambeau Field. When PMI lost their contract for Lambeau Field, JR began working for Spectrum Events out of Houston as a contractual Executive Chef running the food service for PGA events, major concerts and VIP catering. He also worked as Head Chef for a short while at Thornberry Creek Country Club before creating Chives.
Chives Restaurant is JR’s dream and a culmination of his favorite places he’s been and most importantly, his favorite foods he learned to prepare along his way. He keeps it simple, always using the freshest ingredients available to him. Our staff consists of very talented customer oriented people; some who have helped JR develop Chives culinary path from the beginning and some are employees he worked with in previous kitchens. The entire staff at Chives is along for the next ride which makes for a great working environment.
In 2012, JR worked closely with our son, Nick Morse to open Bleu Restaurant in DePere. There is so much talent and loyalty in our staff, creating new opportunities is allowing everyone to learn and grow. He has also created space for our own garden so our chef’s can hand pick their vegetables during the summer and fall seasons. In 2014, we expanded again opening Chives Door County in Baileys Harbor as a seasonal restaurant. Our youngest son, Lucas Schoenfeld manages the front of house and our chef Aaron Havlovitz was moved there from Chives in Suamico. Late summer of 2014, JR opened The Bread Bank, a small bakery across the street from Chives in Suamico. He is developing a nice baking program and producing all our bread and desserts for all our locations out of our bakery. In November 2014, he opened Rye Restaurant in Downtown Appleton. Our oldest son, Nick Morse is the Chef there with the help of our daughter-in-law, Charlotte. Charlotte is our Events Planner.
When JR isn’t busy with work, you can find him in the middle of Lake Michigan fishing, relaxing on his boat in Door County, watching TV, enjoying our grandchildren Nolan and Marshall, flying model airplanes and always searching through our cupboards wondering what our next meal will be. JR’s life is all about food. Where we go and what we do revolves around our stomach.
As you can see, JR has spent the past 25+ years graduating from culinary school, honing his craft in professional kitchens at restaurants, hotels and private clubs and is now enjoying the evolution from being behind the line cooking to teaching the ropes to the younger generation.
Although our regular menu hasn’t changed much because of customer demands, the evolution in our kitchen has changed since opening in 2002. JR spent the “early” years designing the menu and working the line day and night. Over the past several years, we’ve had a couple of chef’s that have worked closely with JR to help operations in the kitchen. Aaron Havlovitz is now our chef in Door County, Nick Morse is our chef at Rye in Appleton. Adam Schierl returned to us to be the Head Chef at Bleu and Matt Bugni comes from many years working along side JR as our head chef at Chives. Talent across the board!!
Rotating our kitchen crew gives us new energy when we need it. The staff is dedicated to bringing in the freshest ingredients and providing excellent customer service. Enjoy!
General Manager Chives Restaurant
Logan Higgins is a familiar face for most of our customers. Logan was 16 when he joined our team. Early in his career, he tried cooking and quickly knew he belonged in the front of house. He has been managing for the past several years and has shown increased interest in becoming more than just a familiar face. Logan has very specific criteria for our staff to follow and follows through with excellent customer service.
Logan loves the restaurant, but when not working you’ll find him at the golf course perfecting his game, Packers games, traveling and hanging out with his family.
Head Chef Chives Restaurant
Head Chef Matt Bugni cooks with soul. Over the last 13 years Bugni has worked under the influence of JR Schoenfeld who helped shape his style and depth of knowledge.
Bugni’s culinary philosophy and passion reflects the growing trend towards a local and down to earth life style. Working in Chive’s garden and with neighboring farmers to seek out the finest regional and local organic produce, is the essence of his cuisine. Bugni’s preference is to allow the natural flavors of food to express themselves.
In addition to cooking, Bugni’s passion is to develop young chefs to discover their own talents in the same way he was encouraged. Be it through mushroom picking or gardening.
Bugni, is a native to Green Bay. He loves spending all of his extra time with his beautiful family and is a great father.
Chives Restaurant has always been pleased to have Matt on board with all of their adventures. He has been a true creator and the most reliable individual we could ask for.