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Chef's Table | Chef's Profile | Grilled Salmon with Nasturtium Butter and Roasted Red Potatoes

 

Food and Hospitality of Olympic Proportions

As head of the kitchen at Interlaken — an Adirondack style country inn and restaurant in famous Lake Placid, New York — Executive Chef Kevin Gregg knows quite a bit about making guests comfortable. The dining room, with its richly paneled mahogany walls illuminated by soft candlelight, offers guests a warm and relaxing atmosphere complimented by understated, elegant, American regional cuisine.

 

Interlaken InnFormer home to the Winter Olympics, Lake Placid has been host to many a gold, silver and bronze medallist, and so too has the Interlocken Inn. A white figure skate sits on the mantle in the parlor autographed by such Olympic greats as Kristi Yamaguchi, Scott Hamilton, Brian Orser and Paul Wylie. Today, the inn continues to be a favorite among members of the US Olympic Figure Skating Team.

How does Gregg create cuisine fit for some of the world's greatest athletes? First off, he doesn't think about it that way. "Everyone is treated the same" says Gregg. Something to remember, he advises, when throwing a dinner party in your own home. "Try not to be overly anxious when cooking for someone for the first time, or for a special client." According to Gregg, the more relaxed you are, the better your dinner party will be.

Gregg learned much of what he knows about hospitality from his mother, Carol Johnson. She and his stepfather Roy Johnson own the Inn. Mrs. Johnson worked as head chef of the Inn's kitchen for many years. "She always considered diners her houseguests," says Gregg – a tradition he continues with great pride.

Working alongside his mother at an early age sparked Gregg's initial interest in cooking. "I realized I was creative with food, so I decided to go to culinary school and learn more." After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Gregg returned home to face a great challenge and opportunity. His mother had grown weary of running the inn and serving as head chef. She wanted her son to take the reigns. "My mother announced that if I didn't take over the kitchen, they were going to sell the Inn." Gregg quickly accepted the job. "They worked too hard to make Interlaken such a great place," he remembers, "I could not let them sell." Room in Interlaken Inn

Today, Gregg and his mother design menus that change seasonally, using local venison or locally gathered mushrooms such as ceps, hens-of-the-woods, chanterelles and porcinis. Duck, filet mignon, tuna, pasta, and salmon, often accompany his regional specialties.

 

 

 
Here's how Gregg suggests creating specialties of your own for dinner parties:

Grilled SalmonServe appetizers. It's a great way to start off the evening.

Do not overdo it. Cook simple recipes that have great flavors.

A dinner plate should contain only one star. For instance, if you're serving Beef Wellington, don't do twice-baked potatoes and a host of other complicated side dishes. Too many complex dishes confuses the palate and draws attention away from the food you wish to showcase.

Cook some food in advance and simply warm it when ready to serve. Roasts are a great "do-ahead," dinner-party dish. A leg of lamb, for example, can be done an hour ahead of time. In some cases, a dish is better after it has had the chance to absorb the seasonings and marinate in its own juices.

You do not have to be a garde-manger to make food look good. Use simple, fresh garnishes to brighten the plate and make your food look as good as it tastes.

Always prepare enough servings for "seconds," just in case.

Lastly, Gregg suggests serving food you have experience preparing when having a dinner party at home. "Fancy spins and spirals are great on the ice," he laughs, "but not in the kitchen — unless you're decorating a cake. So ease your stress and cook what's familiar."

And if you simply must satisfy an appetite for something you've never tried before, opt for one of Kevin's Gregg's famous recipes found below, or visit the dining room at the Interlocken Inn, where new and exciting dishes are always on the menu!

 

 

 

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