Hermitage Lodge’s eating places turn into locations
It was a coup for Nashville when internationally famend chef and restaurateur Jean-Georges Vongerichten introduced he was bringing his model of wonderful eating to the historic Hermitage Lodge.
Nevertheless, the imaginative and prescient of Jean-Georges (as he’s finest recognized) is just as viable because the staff supporting it. That’s, cooks who can execute it with finesse. That’s the place his appointments of Kelsi Armijo as government chef and Stacy Day as government pastry chef come into play.
Below the steering of the 2 girls, the food and drinks that distinguish a Jean-Georges restaurant come to life. They lately shared tales about their background and work in making Drusie & Darr and The Pink Hermit eating locations for locals and guests alike.
What sparked your ardour for the cooking life?
THE: I got here to it in a roundabout method. I grew up in Las Vegas and was a super-picky eater with an enormous candy tooth. I credit score my stepmom, who would have me cook dinner along with her. She taught me primary kitchen expertise, and alongside the way in which, I’d attempt some completely different meals.
As a lot as I appreciated the method, it by no means occurred to me that this may very well be a profession. It clicked later once I was in nursing college. I used to be capable of take an elective class, and once I noticed that plated desserts was being supplied, I received excited. My trainer, Chef Matt Fleisher, noticed expertise that I didn’t notice and gave me nice encouragement to pursue cooking as my profession. Six months later, I went to work beneath him and Chef Julian Serrano at Picasso within the Bellagio Lodge.
SD: For me, it began early on, throughout the holidays, baking with mother, scooping cookie dough, licking the beaters. Mother insisted that all of us be taught, and I all the time loved it. However it was the cake competitions on the Meals Community that captured my creativeness. I turned fascinated by the artistry, and I puzzled if I may do that for a profession.
Mother instructed me to go to work first, get a job to see if it was actually what I needed earlier than she’d ship me to culinary college. I began out in a grocery retailer and steadily moved as much as cake decorator. “I’m prepared now!” And I enrolled within the Cordon Bleu Pasadena California in 2007–that was pre-lawsuit time!
How did you come to work beneath Jean-Georges?
THE: Chef Matt was finest mates with Chef Rob Moore at Prime, a Jean-Georges restaurant within the Bellagio. That connection was my entry, first as line cook dinner, and Chef Rob mentored me as I moved up the ranks. Over the previous 17 years, that has added as much as 4 completely different occasions that I’ve labored for J-G.
SD: I used to be working in Nevada on the time once I noticed the job posting for the Jean-Georges ideas on the Hermitage Lodge. I submitted my resume, interviewed and, wow, Chef Kelsi and I are actually two years working collectively!
How a lot artistic freedom do you will have in designing the menus for Drusie & Darr and The Pink Hermit?
THE: The whole lot for Drusie & Darr is 100% J-G. However we perceive what it’s that defines him and we will submit recipes for his consideration. Currently we’ve been working to reconceptualize The Pink Hermit — make it extra of an informal Italian-style cafe. And, we’re within the means of designing the autumn cocktail menu — 100% of all bases, syrups and juices are made contemporary in our kitchen.
SD: Seasonality is the place I look to make modifications and problem our staff to be artistic. So we’ll make macarons with seasonally-driven flavors, like our apple pie-chai. We now have a pumpkin muffin proper now that has a cream cheese-buttercream filling that’s so scrumptious. We’re making an amazing Basque cheesecake and our tiramisu is mild and ethereal — not custardy — I believe it’s the perfect you’ll ever have.
What ingredient in your culinary arsenal would you are feeling misplaced with out?
THE: Black pepper is a extremely underrated seasoning that provides a lot. I depend on it to punch up flavors. I really like fennel and am completely satisfied once I get to include it in a dish. At residence, I’ve chilis of every kind readily available — for moles, sauces, even salsa on the fly!
SD: Vanilla. It enhances every part. Citrus. Chocolate. Even vanilla wants extra vanilla! I consider in it a lot, I’ve a vanilla orchid tattooed on my shoulder!
Do you will have a favourite kitchen software?
THE: My Grey Kunz spoon. I can do something with it — flip, baste, sauce, style.
SD: An offset spatula. Not the little ones, it’s received to be the large 10-inch measurement. And it should have a wood deal with. That simply feels higher.
What present dishes are you excited for us to attempt?
THE: At The Pink Hermit, I’m happy with our bruschettas. The lemon ricotta with marinated cranberries is particularly scrumptious. The spinach-herb pizza unfold with goat cheese is straightforward but so flavorful; it’s my present favourite. At Drusie & Darr, it will be our butternut squash minestrone with chili. Additionally, our fried hen is coming again. Since I’ve been in Nashville, I’ve eaten loads of fried hen, and I’ve to say, with no humility, that ours is the perfect!
SD: We’re making a pumpkin creme brûlée with pomegranate seeds and a coconut tuile that’s silly good. The feel is fantastic. The bees knees! I additionally love our caramel apple pie with maple pecan ice cream.
What are your targets for the ideas on the Hermitage Lodge, and for your self as a chef?
THE: I really feel like we hit a significant aim with our Finest Restaurant award within the Nashville Scene’s Better of Nashville. I wish to proceed to wow the town whereas persevering with to get the phrase out about what we’re doing. I’ve the perfect staff I’ve ever labored with.
For myself, I want to have the expertise of dwelling and dealing internationally, perhaps within the subsequent 5 years. For now, it’s eye on the prize: Improve our attain in making the Hermitage Lodge the wonderful eating vacation spot that it’s.
SD: My aim for the lodge is to maintain constructing a powerful employees in ways in which assist their careers and permit them to develop, in expertise, in duty and creativity. I need them to have the ability to broaden their horizons.
Sometime I want to have one thing that I do by myself, seemingly with muffins, these champion present muffins that received me so excited years and years in the past!
KD: Stacy is humble, however are you aware that she is on this 12 months’s Halloween Baking Championship on the Meals Community? At this second, she’s made it by means of six weeks of challenges and is 1 of 4 cooks remaining. We’re all so happy with her!
The Hermitage Lodge
231 Sixth Ave. N., Nashville; thehermitagehotel.com
The Pink Hermit cafe and wine bar
Hours: Open each day for breakfast 6-11 a.m., for lunch and dinner 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and for aperitivo hour 4-6 p.m.
Parking: Complimentary valet as much as 2 hours
Drusie & Darr by Jean-Georges Vongerichten
Hours: Open each day for breakfast 7-11 a.m., for lunch 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and for dinner 5-10 p.m.
Parking: Complimentary valet as much as 2 hours