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New Local Chef Passionate About Food, Harrison

HARRISON, N.Y. - It's his first job in Harrison but chef Dennis Cruz said his first impression of the town matters just as much as the cuisine he turns out every day.

Cruz is the head chef at Harrison's new Oakland Grill on Halstead Avenue and said the new job has introduced him to more than just cuisine. Since starting with the grill, which opened last October, Cruz said he's gotten to know the people, tastes, and the identity of Harrison.

"This town is loving me and I'm lovin' them back," Cruz said. "They've been good to me since I came in."

While assembling various styles of cuisine for Harrison locals at the grill, Cruz said he has gotten to know different people in town and has become familiar with their warm welcomes. He said the constant hugging and hand-shaking has helped him feel a part of Harrison.

What draws him to Harrison most, Cruz said, was the family feel. A current resident of Rockland County, Cruz said he was looking for options to relocate with his family to benefit his children while they go through school. Harrison's school district, he said, was at the top of his list.

Last summer, Harrison was ranked 70th by CNN Money Magazine in a top-100 list of the best places to live in the United States. The local school system was mentioned in the review as a main attraction of the town.

A move to Harrison, he said, was a likely possibility for him and his family. "I welcome this town into my heart and I want to move here," Cruz said. "Hopefully some of my local friends can help me in finding the right place."

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