When you visit The Coop Rotisserie in Amesbury, you get more than a great meal, you get Chef-owner Elvis Jimenez-Chavez’s passion on a plate. You will also get his infectious smile.
“I don’t take anyone that comes into the restaurant for granted,” he says. “I feel that the diners are doing us a favor by coming in—they can choose other places. I want to make sure we pay attention to every detail—from the temperature of the dining room to the lighting to the colors on the walls.” Jimenez-Chavez also pays a lot of attention to the food, which represents an infusion of ingredients from Latin America via the Caribbean (he was born in the Dominican Republic) with classic cooking techniques. The result is a style of menu that is uniquely his own—and it changes often. “I get bored cooking the same thing day in and day out,” he says with a laugh. “Specials are so important to me for my own sanity and for the sake and well-being of my staff.”
Creating specials from ingredients he personally selects and purchases each week, Elvis cites one recent dish, Potato, Peanut and Coriander Soup, a staple in Bolivia and Ecuador that he made his own. “They grow lots of potatoes down there and they grow their own peanuts,” he says. “They use beef stock, but I used vegetable stock—it turned out very nice.” Daily soup offerings reflect the seasons. A Pumpkin Soup included chopped dates and caramelized pistachios. Most of these daily soup specials are vegetarian, too, as Elvis says many diners specifically come in looking for meatless options.
The meat alternative is always on the menu, The Coop’s signature chicken soup, Aguadito De Pollo, which consists of chicken and vegetables in a flavorful broth infused with cilantro.
As for how he comes up with such unique and eclectic creations, Elvis “blames” his parents, as they introduced him to indigenous foods from across the globe. “My father was in the military, so I was raised all over the world,” he says. “What I and my siblings learned and experienced, you don’t learn that in school. It shaped my approach and view toward food.”
Diners tend to gravitate toward the specials for lunch, like a recent Quinoa–Wild Rice Cake accompanied by roasted sweet plantains, pumpkin, and chick peas in a saffron orange sauce. But they also appreciate the menu staples. One of the most popular lunch items is the Grilled Avocado, a salad that features, of course, grilled avocado, along with tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, mixed greens, white balsamic vinaigrette, and basil chiffonade. And don’t miss the rotisserie: Caribbean Style Roasted Chicken, available by the whole, half, or quarter bird, with sides like Jasmine Rice and Grilled Vegetables and homemade dipping sauces, including Roasted Carrot Chipotle and Chimichurri.
A unique offering is the Coxinha, tear-shaped potato dumplings filled with chicken, tomatoes, and onions. More traditional Tacos are delicious, two soft corn tortillas filled with vegetables, chicken, or braised beef and served with pickled green cabbage, radishes, and queso fresco. The same fillings are offered in the Burrito, served with rice, beans (pinto or black), romaine, tomatoes, salsa de chiles mixtos, pepper jack, guacamole, and crema fresca.
For Jimenez-Chavez, The Coop Rotisserie is more than a business. It is his passion and his dream—and one that called to him even after he had chosen another career. He was a lawyer; the law, however, did not stir his heart, but food did. It was a calling that at first confused his parents, but they then embraced it.
“I made a really nice spread for them over dinner and I told them, ‘I am your creation,’” Jimenez-Chavez says. “My mom tasted my food and tears came down her face. She understood what I was doing. It was a ‘Broadway moment.’ We laughed and cried.”
And he has been cooking ever since. “I love what I’m doing,” Jimenez-Chavez says. “My heart is here and it shapes how I cook. My food is me.” And we all benefit from that passion.
The Coop Rotisserie
36 Main Street