It’s a frequently asked question. The simple answer is that the turtle and wolf were two of the clan symbols for the Lenape Indians. As these were the indigenous people to the area that is now Montclair, I thought this was a cool way to give historical context to the restaurant and its location.
As I did further research, it became evident that the turtle and the wolf were indeed appropriate symbols for a restaurant. Diving down an existential rabbit hole, I learned that the turtle totem, among many things, symbolizes determination, persistence, and the ability to stay grounded in moments of chaos. This resonated with me since most professional kitchens hold a frenetic energy, bordering on insanity. The best chefs* around are those who can maintain their composure and stay on track when the wheels are falling off.
The wolf, as a spirit animal, represents instinct and an appetite for freedom. I feel that cooking is an instinctual, creative medium as much of the food I’ve most enjoyed was prepared by not following a recipe. Being free to follow your instincts, driven by your senses is in my mind what being a chef is about.
I also just thought it sounded cool.
*The author in no way recognizes himself as one of the best chefs around. He is just a dude looking to cook good food and have fun doing it. See you soon at Turtle + the Wolf!