When Restaurantarama learned that The Boar’s Head Inn’s new pastry chef started in his position six months ago, we thought we were terribly derelict in getting the news, but Kes Thuys, who came to Boar’s Head most recently from a pastry chef stint at Yosemite National Park assures us we’re not too late: “The first 90 days are about the employers deciding whether they like you and you deciding whether you like the place. Many times new chefs are gone before you even find out they were there,” says Thuys.
O.K., so we’re only about three months tardy in telling you about Boar’s Head’s coup in getting Dutch-born Thuys on board. The guy has well over 30 years in the business under his belt, having first come to the States for an assistant pastry chef job in 1973.
Since that time, Thuys says the culinary art of pastry making in America has made leaps and bounds. When he first came across the Atlantic he says all anyone over here knew of pastry was “pudding and pie—the stuff your grandmother made.”
He says part of that stemmed from the existence of only two culinary schools in the states back in the 1970s: Johnson & Whales and the Culinary Institute of America.
“Now almost every city has two culinary schools. What we do today doesn’t compare to what was going on back then,” says Thuys.
Wine fest update
At Siips Wine & Champagne Bar, Robyn Wetherhorn is the new captain of the kitchen ship. Owner George Benford says Wetherhorn was promoted to that position in July and already is making a creative impact on Siips lunch, tasting, late-night and Sunday brunch menus, primarily by adding many more specials and frequently changing items.
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Benford, who keeps crazy busy with the many events Siips hosts every week—“just trying to keep people coming in,” he says in regards to his frequent weeknight wine dinners and seminars, regular weekend musical acts and the current $5.95 lunch special he’s running—is also active in bolstering Downtown merchants in general. He heads up the Downtown Business Association and recently was appointed by the Albemarle Board of Supervisors and Charlottesville City Council to the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Charlottesville Police Advisory Board, respectively.
As for the International Food & Wine Experience of Charlottesville that Benford and his partner, Tim O’Brien, began spearheading in 2008 until it was delayed from January 2009 to summer 2009 and then put on hold indefinitely, that’s been taken over by the Monticello Wine Trail organization and Alex Papajohn, whose firm managed the Virginia Wine Expo in Richmond last year. Benford expects the new international festival will take place in late spring next year.
Score for Staunton
Restaurantarama often tries to pretend we have a regional claim to the Inn at Little Washington, which regularly is rated one of the best restaurants in the country by Zagat and others and once ranked No. 2 in the world by Travel + Leisure magazine. But at more than an hour’s car drive away in Washington, Virginia, we can little afford the gas to get there these days let alone the steep price of the inventive upscale menu that executive chef and proprietor Patrick O’Connell spins out. The good news is we’ve gotten just a little bit closer to the Little Washington’s greatness now that Michael Lund—a six-year veteran of the Inn’s kitchen under O’Connell—has taken over as executive chef at Zynodoa, an upscale restaurant in downtown Staunton that features local, seasonal and Southern-inspired fare from the farming likes of Polyface among others in the Shenandoah Valley.