Hot Young Chefs
Kevin Cottle Age 33, Executive Chef Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa, Whitefield www.mountainviewgrand.com, (603) 837-2100 The majestic Mountain View Grand Resort has 1,800 acres of gorgeous grounds with developments in the works for a private movie theater and a grand ballroom. Since last summer, the resort also has a new chef with a big vision for the dining room. Like many chefs, he’s learned from some of the best in the country, first at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and then at illustrious Philadelphia-area restaurants, The Striped Bass and Le Bec Fin. Closer to home, he worked in Boston’s Brasserie Jo and then at Sonnenalp in Vail, Colo., and at the much-lauded Wequassett Resort in Cape Cod. He was also invited to the James Beard House in 2004, a coveted honor for many chefs. With a resumé like this one, Cottle was a natural choice for the historic New Hampshire resort. As executive chef, he revamped the banquet menu, the fine dining menu and also helped to design a wine cellar capable of holding up to 20,000 bottles. He also wants to bring more game to the table. Working with an elk farm in New Hampshire and a farm in Vermont that supplies all grass-fed lamb, he is offering more naturally raised meats for the table. How would you describe your cuisine? My love is fish — fresh or saltwater. And living out in Vail, I fell in love with game. Now my vision is to bring the best of both worlds in game and fish — trying out new things that people might not have tried. Ever since I put trout on the menu, it’s been flying off the tables, and I use a Pacific Escolar in my “cassoulet.” I smoke my own pork shoulder and add black-eyed peas and saffron broth to the dish. My idea is, let’s shake it up a bit. Brian MacKenzie Age 35, Executive Chef/Owner Inn at Pleasant Lake, New London www.innatpleasantlake.com, (603) 526-6271 Culinary Institute of America grad Chef Brian MacKenzie and wife Linda have owned the lovely historic 10-room Inn at Pleasant Lake for nine years. While he cooked his way through school in such diverse places as Mississippi, Colorado and Virginia, it’s the opportunity to be both entrepreneur and chef here in New Hampshire that drew him to the inn. In 1999, he brought his talents to the prestigious James Beard House, along with chefs from some of the nation’s great country inns, but it’s his five-course prix fixe meals in his own kitchen that draw the most attention. It’s a mix of New England meets France with dishes like roasted rack of lamb, served with sauce champignons and crispy onions, and bisque of wild mushrooms with parsley oil and poppy seed fleurons. The chef’s entrepreneurial spirit has grown recently, and the couple have opened The Restaurants at Eastman in Grantham. MacKenzie hopes to draw both locals and travelers to the Upper Valley with innovative, seasonal cuisine. This year the menu includes one of his favorite springtime greens — the fresh asparagus he looks forward to every year. If you had to pick a last meal, what would it be and who would you eat it with? My last meal would be Grilled Rack of Lamb with a Sauce Champignon, Basil Coulis and Provencal Bread Crumbs served with Creamy Risotto and Haricot Vert sautéed in a Beurre Noisette. Yum. I would eat with my wife on the front porch of the inn overlooking Pleasant Lake, the moon shimmering on the lake with the silhouette of Mt. Kearsarge in the background and a nice cool breeze coming in the window. Why not? Mary Dumont Age 32, Executive Chef The Dunaway Restaurant, Portsmouth www.dunawayrestaurant.com. (603) 373-6112 Chef Mary Dumont studied creative writing in college, not cooking, but she has a culinary resumé and upbringing that chefs twice her age would envy. Her father, two of her brothers (one is Executive Chef Dan Dumont of the Wentworth-by-the-Sea Hotel) and a sister are all in the restaurant business in the Seacoast area and she’s donned her chef’s whites at some of the country’s best restaurants, including Campton Place and Jardiniere in San Francisco. Now, at The Dunaway, she’s leading a team that is redefining Seacoast cuisine by cultivating and using ingredients from the historic gardens at Strawbery Banke and even raising their own pigs for charcuterie. They also work on a garden and culinary projects with kids at New Heights, an organization that prepares teens for a successful adulthood, in an innovative Seed to Table program. It’s this attention to culinary craft and community outreach that recently lead to Chef Dumont’s biggest triumph to date — being honored as one of ten Best New Chefs by Food and Wine magazine for 2006, the first time a New Hampshire chef has received the award, an honor that will go a long way to putting the state on the nation’s culinary map. What or who has been your biggest culinary influence? Clearly my family has been my foundation, from seeing everyone’s commitment to excellence to providing the best hospitality possible. I was taught everyone should be treated as a guest, from your employees to the clients that come in the door. Also, Laurent Manrique from Campton Place in SF (who’s now at Aqua) taught me to refine my palette and to seek the best in everyone. He’s a Buddhist and he led by his example of repetitive excellence until it became part of you — like the back of your hand. Ted McCormack Age 33, Executive Chef The Three Chimneys Inn, Durham www.threechimneysinn.com, (603) 868-7800 As executive chef at The Three Chimneys Inn, Chef Ted McCormack takes some of his upbringing to the table. The Johnson and Wales Culinary program grad grew up in Salem, N.H., on a lake with a vegetable garden. His mother often left ingredients for a meal with instructions for McCormack and his two brothers while she worked odd hours as a nurse. It was left to him to do the cooking. Necessity is also the mother of invention in the seasonal cuisine at the inn, which he serves both in the cozy Coppers dining room and the ffrost-Sawyer Tavern — fare with elements of old New England, such as Niman Ranch pork loin grilled on apple wood plank with cherry chutney and maple sweet potato fries. McCormack worked in a few Seacoast restaurants, including Ron’s Landing in Hampton Beach with its French cuisine elements, and the more fast-paced Molly Malone’s in Portsmouth. But in his latest kitchen, he’s concentrating on the local and attending meetings of the three-year-old N.H. Farm to Restaurant initiative — a joint effort to connect local farms and restaurant chefs. The local ingredient this chef is most looking forward to this spring is tart rhubarb, in addition to 17 kinds of tomatoes in his personal garden for salads and such at home. How would you describe your cuisine? Some of the best dishes I’ve cooked come from these fresh, local products. When I look at a dish I want to recognize which season we are in. This is the way I cook at home and if I can create an identity for traditional regional cooking using local products it seems like an ideal fit. Sous Chef Rising in the Kitchen Behind every successful executive chef is a sous chef who understands the vision at the top of the line. Evan Hennessey, Sous Chef, age 29 The Dunaway Restaurant, Portsmouth www.dunawayrestaurant.com, (603) 373-6112 Chef Evan Hennessey is a sous (or second in command) chef at the Dunaway in Portsmouth, working under the leadership of Chef Mary Dumont. Hennessey headed the kitchen at the creative 43 Degrees North in Portsmouth but jumped at the opportunity to learn from Dumont. The Atlantic Culinary Academy grad has also worked in some of America’s greatest kitchens, including Aureole and Café Boulud in New York City and Trio in Chicago, where he learned, among other whimsical crafts, the innovative foaming technique he brought to the tables in Portsmouth. It’s Chef Hennessey’s willingness to try new things with our native ingredients that makes him a rising star, that and a background that brought European and especially French cuisine to the family table and continues to his own family — son Marcus, age 8, can break down chicken, lamb, rabbit and duck with his own knife, and he and fiancée Jenn like to fill the table with roasted and braised meats and vegetables. What or who has been your biggest culinary influence? Two people really, Grant Achatz taught me how to look at simple ingredients for all that they’re worth — great flavor lies all throughout food, you need to figure out how to extract it. And Thomas Keller for great respect of refined technique. Take your time to make something great, and then take your time to make it better.