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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
how Gregg suggests creating specialties of your own for dinner
It's a great way to start off the evening.
not overdo it.
Cook simple recipes that have great flavors.
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.
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.
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.
prepare enough servings for "seconds,"
just in case.
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
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!