Chautauqua Institution and the Athenaeum Hotel are in the process of forming a new farm-to-table program which aims to educate guests upon the seasonal bounty found in Chautauqua County.
Part of the Chautauqua In June program, the Athenaeum Hotel will celebrate area farmers and breweries with a three-part series beginning Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Guests will join Ross Warhol, executive chef for the Athenaeum Hotel; Alex Gray, executive chef to the president of Chautauqua Institution; and Marissa Love, executive chef for the President's Cottage, on a tour which features several local farms as well as a stop at Southern Tier Brewing Company. Participants will learn about raising livestock, growing vegetables and sourcing local food. The tour of Southern Tier Brewing Company will include tasting and lunch. Transportation is provided by a bus that will pick up passengers at the Athenaeum Hotel. Admission for the tour is $75 per person.
The second part of the series is a farm-to-table culinary class instructed by Culinary Institute of America graduates Warhol, Gray and Love, who will provide a hands-on learning experience of creating a basic family meal with gourmet influence and local primary ingredients gathered during the tour held earlier in the day. The class is scheduled for 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Athenaeum Hotel and is $65 per person. A full dinner as well as wine and beer pairings are included.
Culinary Institute of America graduate chef Ross Warhol, founder of the Athenaeum’s newest restaurant Bloom, which aims to provide a farm-to-table experience, is pictured in his 70 by 70 foot garden. Warhol’s garden produces a variety of vegetables utilized for the farm-to-table program, including: seven varieties of heirloom tomatoes, six varieties of potatoes, three varieties of lettuce, green thai eggplant, strawberries, cabbage, brussels sprouts, chard, turnips, parsnips, radishes, cucumbers, carrots, bok choy and more.
P-J photo by Dusten Rader
The third aspect of the series, a spring five course farm-to-table dinner, will be held on Friday from 5:30-9:30 p.m. at the Athenaeum Hotel. Guests will enjoy a meal prepared by Warhol, Gray and Love that features ingredients produced in Chautauqua County as well as local wine and beer pairings. Local farmers will also be present to speak about farming practices. The cost of the dinner is $89 plus tax. Registration is encouraged for each part of the series, and can be made by calling 357-4444 or by visiting www.athenaeum-hotel.com.
According to Bruce Stanton, general manager for the Athenaeum, the program is being led by a team of young, but talented, chefs who add a contemporary edge to the service the hotel provides.
"There's a lot of things that we're doing that bring an artistic, contemporary edge, which I think is keeping with Chautauqua," said Stanton. "But, we do keep some more traditional things on the menu because we try to make sure that we're covering everybody."
What: Bill Ward And Amanda Barton
When: Friday, 6 p.m.
Where: Wine Cellar, 309 N. Main St. in Jamestown.
For More Info: www.billwardband .com
What: Summer Rush Concert Series with B.B. King
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Where: Seneca Allegany Casino, 777 Seneca Allegany Boulevard in Salamanca.
For More Info: www.senecaalleganycasino.com
What: Chautauqua County Historical Society Annual Fundraiser Featuring Doc And Bill
When: Saturday, 6-8 p.m.
Where: McClurg Museum, 15 Main St. in Westfield.
For More Info: www.mcclurgmuseum.org
What: Red Rhythm
When: Sunday, 4-8 p.m.
Where: Casino Bar, 777 Seneca Allegany Blvd. in Salamanca.
For More Info: www.senecaalleganycasino.com
"I think we look at the role of the hotel when it comes to the greater mission of Chautauqua Institution, which is that we have individuals who come here that want to learn, and here we can offer a culinary experience," added Vanessa Weinert, marketing manager for Chautauqua Institution. "Hopefully they can take home with them to learn more about the farm-to-table movement and this idea of sourcing locally."
The farm-to-table series is partly being held in recognition of the opening of Bloom, a new restaurant founded by Warhol, a Western New York native who has been employed by the Athenaeum Hotel since 2008. A graduate of both the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, and C.I.A Greystone at St. Helena, Calif., Warhol began his culinary career in Hamburg.
Warhol has been vacationing at Chautauqua Institution since he was 8 years old, and he never thought he would be there as the chef, so it's great to have come full circle, he said.
"This past winter I was in Stockholm, Sweden, working at (Restaurant Frantzen), whose philosophy is really my passion," said Warhol. "I went there to really immerse myself in the old-world techniques of not overcomplicating things and having your hands on as much as possible from the seed, to growing, harvesting, bringing it in and producing it.
"Bloom itself is a dedication to the farmer," continued Warhol. "It's the food that I enjoy doing, which is the most superior product available. It's really to celebrate Chautauqua County, because we have 1,700 farms."
Warhol currently has a strong relationship formed with approximately 10 area farms, including Green Heron Growers of Sherman.
Bloom is located at the Athenaeum Hotel on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution, Route 394 in Chautauqua. Bloom is available by reservation each Friday and Saturday throughout Chautauqua's summer season, which begins June 22.
"Our chefs all bring this new-era culinary arts style, and that's why we're going to be offering a separate dining experience - which is probably the highlight of our year," said Stanton. "Our chefs bring the farm-to-table experience together in a progressive format so that people are seeing how that translates from growing and being harvested to being delivered to the plate."
Although Bloom is only available to 35 guests on Friday and Saturday evenings, dining is available seven days a week in the main dining room of the hotel. All dining guests receive a complimentary gate pass with valet parking available. However, a gate pass will have to be purchased if a guest plans on attending the evening Amphitheater entertainment.
The Athenaeum Hotel, built in 1881 in grand Second Empire-style, is one of the few vacation hotels of its kind still in operation in the United States.