Posts Tagged ‘vermont restaurants’

Food & Drink: A Few Questions for Jessica Wright

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Q&A, Taste of the Landscape

Chef-owner of Hender’s Bake Shop and Café, which opened in July in Waterbury.

Jessica Wright, chef-owner of Hender's Bake Shop and Cafe in Waterbury. Photograph by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.

Jessica Wright, chef-owner of Hender’s Bake Shop and Cafe in Waterbury. Photograph by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.

VL: Did you know you wanted to cook professionally from early on?
JW: In Cape Cod, where I grew up, my family owned a bed-and-breakfast and then a coffee shop, where I’d eat muffins every morning waiting for the school bus. After that, my parents catered and ran a restaurant at a golf course. I knew I wanted to go to culinary school, even though my parents tried to talk me out of it. They said, “You’ve seen our lives, how hard we work.” We basically lived at the restaurant; there was no food at home.

VL: How did you end up in Vermont?
JW: I was working in San Diego as an assistant pastry chef in a very busy place that did two concerts every night, serving a full high-end dinner each show. We’d do one dinner and then have 30 minutes to prep for the next one. It was like “Groundhog Day” every day. My sister and brother-in-law were opening a hostel in Warren and asked if I wanted to be their chef. I said yes immediately. It turned out they didn’t need a full-time chef, but I was so glad to be back near my family, and I just fell in love with Vermont: the local food movement, the healthy lifestyle.

VL: Your bake shop has a case full of sweet pastries as well as sandwiches, salads, granola and even house-baked dog treats inspired by your dog Henderson, after whom the shop is named. Any family connections to any of those recipes?
JW: Food has always been a family affair for us, cooking meals together, calling each other about new recipes.
I couldn’t have opened this place without the help of my family. My roasted turkey Thanksgiving sandwich is
in honor of one my mom always had on her golf course restaurant menu, made with from-scratch stuffing and my grandma’s recipe for cranberry sauce with apples and lemon zest. My mom’s blueberry muffin and crumb cake recipes are also really popular. My raspberry-chocolate-chip coffee cake is based on one of [my great-grandma’s] recipes. And my sister came up with the idea for my chocolate-mocha snack cakes.

VL: You make the pottery you serve on in your bake shop. How long have you been doing that?
JW: About three years ago, when I was working in Burlington, I had three days off a week and was baking too much at home. I love baking, but I was eating too much of it. A friend introduced me to a pottery studio, and I just got hooked. I love the creativity, that it’s hands on, the feel and the touch of it. It’s very similar to baking in some ways. I just got it. So many customers kept asking about the pottery, I’m selling some now.

VL: Anything you’ve learned since you’ve opened your own place?
JW: Yes, that how you name and label things is really important. I make these really awesome vegan peanut butter bars. They weren’t selling at all. I replaced the big “vegan” on the label with a tiny sticker and now they’re doing great.

Menus | Summer 2015 Food & Drink

Written by Vermont Life on . Posted in Taste of the Landscape

In Summer Food & Drink, we visited restaurants that are cutting ever more links from the farm-to-plate supply chain by cultivating some of their own ingredients. Want to try these ultra-fresh offerings? Check the menus below. After you dine, let us know what you thought! Email editors@vtlife.com

Chelsea Royal Diner

SoLo Farm and Table

Black Krim Tavern

Also in Food & Drink, we interviewed Sam Nelis of the newly opened Waterworks Food and Drink. You can find the Waterworks menu here.

Chefs on Fire | It’s back to the oldest trick in the book: cooking with an open flame

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Taste of the Landscape

Photographed by Andrew Wellman

This article appeared in the Winter 2013-14 edition of Vermont Life magazine. It will be available online for a limited time. To subscribe and have full access to Vermont Life, click here.

After a flirtation with high-tech culinary tools that facilitated precise trompe l’oeil creations and guaranteed evenly cooked food with the touch of a button, chefs have come home to the oldest technique there is: the direct interplay between fire and food. Around the country and here in Vermont, an increasing number of restaurants are using indoor wood-fired grills and ovens to put out smoke-kissed food with that inimitable lick of flame. Cooking with wood delivers food with an honest simplicity, the chefs say, although it requires more skill to manage than one might expect. It’s a little bit wild and exciting, but also fosters a warm and welcoming restaurant ambiance. Vermont chefs relish the challenge — and the flavors. As Eric Warnstedt, chef-owner of the new wood-fire-focused Hen of the Wood in Burlington, says, “It just feels like the right way to cook here in Vermont.”

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Chef-owner Eric Warnstedt works the wood-fired grill at Hen of the Wood in Burlington.

At Hen of the Wood’s second location, which opened this fall in downtown Burlington at Hotel Vermont, chef-owner Eric Warnstedt and his team designed the whole menu and restaurant around the wood-fired oven and grill that anchor one side of the dining room. “Almost everything will be touched by fire,” Warnstedt says. “You’ll walk in the door and you’ll smell the wood and you’ll smell the food. I’ve wanted to do this forever.” They slow-roast the restaurant’s namesake mushrooms with house-cured bacon in the oven and dangle legs of lamb over the grill to drip their aromatic fat into pots of beans, while whole onions melt into lush softness tucked into the embers. “Smoke is an ingredient,” says chef de cuisine Jordan Ware, noting how even carrots simply roasted in a cast-iron pan over coals absorb the soft edge of smoke and require little other seasoning. Whole wild calamari are grilled directly on the grates, while tender, young chickens, known as poussins, are herb-brined before they head into the masonry oven; even wood-roasted apples star in desserts drizzled with brown-butter caramel and crème fraîche. “I think it’s the best way to showcase our food and to showcase what we like about Vermont food,” Warnstedt concludes.

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table24chef1

Chef-owner Stephen Sawyer works the grill and rotisserie at Table 24.

When Stephen Sawyer returned home to Rutland five years ago to start his own place after building a solid national resumé in corporate hospitality, he created Table 24.

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