THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
Posted In: Culture, Restaurants, Community Profiles, From Issue 654 By: Robert E Martin
07th February, 2008 0
"A gourmet can tell from the flavor whether a woodcock's leg is the one on which the bird is accustomed to roost."
- Lucius Beebe
When it comes to refining one's taste buds, discipline for detail, and eye for perfection to the exactitude essential for flourishing as a true Gourmet Chef, Scott Grant is a walking recipe filled with all the essential ingredients.
As the new Executive Chef at Bay Valley Resort's Heatherfields Chop House, Scott brings to the table twenty-two years of experience and a marked exuberance for exciting possibilities that the future holds at Bay Valley, which has set a standard in dining excellence for over two decades.
A Michigan native that grew up in Clare, Scott attended Culinary Arts School in Seattle for two years and transferred to Grand Rapids Jr. College, where he served his internship. His experience ranges from 5-star restaurants in Grand Rapids to a stint with the Holiday Corporation, where he served up the dietary staples for a high-class retirement village, though he admits that experience was "too institutionalized" for a gourmet fine dining chef.
While his forte' is as a chocolatier, evident by award-winning concoctions, Scott admits that fine dining is where his heart is. "I love the ambience, the atmosphere, and the presentation, even though I enjoy playing with chocolate. Gourmet skills are where my strongest attributes reside."
A glance at Heatherfields' dinner menu reveals a totally revamped menu with many of Chef Grant's 'signature' recipes, including Veal Au Porto seared to perfection and deglazed with port wine, finished with a mushroom demiglaze and arranged over a bed of spinach, to Salmon & Lobster Turban, which is baked salmon stuffed with lobster dressing complimented with his own signature Newburg sauce.
"Without doubt, one of my favorite recipes is a signature Jack Daniels Tenderloin, which consists of a filet that is seared off and marked on the broiler, split in half and seared in a pan with a garlic and olive oil and then deglazed with Jack Daniels and a demi-sauce and served over haystack onion rings. Judging from the activity in recent weeks, folks seem to like it."
With entrée's ranging in price from $16.00 to $33.00 and averaging around the arena of $24.00, the value of these signature creations is as undeniable as the recipes are mouth-watering.
Having served in his new position for only a few weeks now, Chef Grant notes that the most challenging component of his vocation is pulling his staff of 18 into a tightly orchestrated unit. "Chef's are so meticulous and we're very hard on ourselves," he admits. "We take great pride in what we do. The food is not a challenge, because I enjoy cooking and truly love creating new recipes. It's not a job to me but a very strong passion. I've worked very hard to get to this level and am excited because Bay Valley is a wonderful place. Plus, I love to golf and love to hate the game!" he laughs.
In terms of formative influences, Chef Grant cites two role models. "I had the pleasure to work and study under Han Fuchs, who worked at the Peninsula Supper Club in Grand Rapids and taught me invaluable tips about the catering end of fine dining."
"Chef Fuchs really took me under his wing and molded me into an old fashioned Chef. He was from Germany and an older man and very talented. He taught me the things necessary to accept high positions such as this one. By the time one becomes an Executive Chef you need to be diversified in a lot of areas, which I feel I am."
" And then I had the pleasure to work with Chef Ken McDonald, who was an awesome chef at a Country Club that taught me a lot about the fine art of playing with chocolate and candies and spinning sugar. Those two individuals truly stick in my mind."
With a newly created menu that he hopes to hone and perfect over the next few months, Scott acknowledges the equal importance of keeping a menu fresh. "I am taking Bay Valley from fine dining and evolving it into a Chop House where steaks are the main focus, simply because to me a Chop House represents much of what we associate with a great meal - lots of sautéed' mushrooms, top meats seared to perfection, all transposed to a finer dining atmosphere."
"One thing I pride myself on is cultivating the lost art of 'scratch' cooking," he continues. "This is what we are doing at Heatherfields. Even the simple things taste different. We make our own beef stock out of bones, and even our demi sauce is concocted from scratch. This is what sets a restaurant and a chef apart from others, right down to the dinner rolls, which we also make in-house. Nothing is pre-packaged here. The old traditional 'chef' way is to cook it from scratch."
Given the daily challenges and meticulous attention to detail that comes with his profession, as one would imagine, serving as a top-notch stretch can be a stressful position.
So does Scott enjoy cooking similar exotic concoctions for himself at home?
"Actually," he laughs, "I'd just as soon order a pizza! Seriously, though, I do cook at home, but nothing like what I do here at Bay Valley. After a long day and night in the kitchen when I get home to me a gourmet dinner is a fried egg sandwich and a glass of milk. But it's like anything in life - especially if you love it and take pride in your work - by the time you get home, you want to relax and unwind and focus on the simple things in life."
Finally, I feel it incumbent to ask Chef Grant, What are the qualities that truly define a 5-star Restaurant?
"The service has to be perfect, along with the ambiance of the place you're in; and of course, you have to serve the finest food. All those elements need to work in tandem."
"I'm very excited about being in a new area. The tri-cities are not that far from where I grew up. And I'm also excited about meeting other Chefs in the area, because it's all part of being a Chef - getting to know others setting standards throughout the community."
Heatherfields Chop House will be serving a special Valentine Menu with special pricing on Dinners for Two including Steak Diane, Chateaubriand, and Surf & Turf with Chef Grant's Jack Daniels Black Angus Tenderloin accompanied by two 5-ounce lobster tails with drawn butter.
For reservations call 989-686-4500.
Clarion Bay Valley is located at 2480 Old Bridge Rd. in Bay City.
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)