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Edson Hill Mini Blog Series Presents: The Faces of Edson Hill

The Chef

Written by Cassidy Derda | Edson Hill Event Sales & Marketing Team

August 10, 2022

The summer season seems to be flying by here at Edson Hill. 

After a year of wedding planning, we are eager to see our special couples say “I Do” this summer as we kick off the 2022 wedding season. A huge staple of any wedding is the food – and of course, the drinks! Our culinary team continues to exceed expectations this year with their modern approach to classic New England fare through their countless hours spent in the kitchen, from the Dining Room and the Tavern down to the wedding lawn. 

Not only are our chefs collaborating on new dishes and menu launches in their “down time” on top of preparing for the upscale dining experience that is Edson Hill every night – they casually execute hundreds of gorgeous Vermont-fare dinner plates for weddings every other week without skipping a beat.

The warm weekdays feel long, but the weeks go by in flashes for Chef Picca and his team – or as we call him – Jerome or Ja-homie. I was able to sit down with Jerome after one of our weekly team meetings and ask him some lighter questions about the summer season; in particular – what his personal favorites are about the menu and his role at Edson Hill.

I didn’t even have to finish my sentence when asking Jerome what his favorite dish on the menu was before I got an answer. “Hands down, the duck is my favorite dish on the menu – it’s not even close to be honest with you.” He said. No surprise there, the Duck has been a fan favorite this summer for our guests (and staff). Preserved and cooked in its own fat with poached garlic, the tender confit leg is accompanied by a silky duck breast and finished with fresh micro arugula and house made peach mustard.

Onto drinks. I was particularly curious to see how The Chef would respond when I asked him what his favorite drink was on the menu. It then occurred to me that I don’t think I’ve ever seen the man have a single drink in the year that I’ve known him. Unappeased with the question, he laughed and asked if I could get him a menu for reference. 

“I’m just not a cocktail guy.” He laughed and quickly skipped to the wines. “Ah, there it is; the Pratsch Gruner Veltliner, that’s one of my favorites! I actually used to serve this at my wine bar in Harvard Square. I never considered taking it off the menu once.” The Chef went on to describe the Austrian wine as full of fresh, tangy flavor with touches of apple and apricot. “It pairs beautifully in the summer with many dishes; it would go great with any of our small cheese plates, the halibut, and especially the pasta.”

Our conversation began to shift to chatting about the summer season and The Chef’s outlook as the culinary head of Edson Hill. When I asked him what he enjoyed the most about his role here, he grinned as he went on about the group of cooks he shares the kitchen with. “My team is just the best. I feel lucky to share a kitchen and collaborate with them everyday. I get to take a lot of the credit, but it’s a group effort. My favorite part of being a Chef here is the camaraderie and creativity, and connecting with the Dining Room staff and guests.” Jerome told me.

With the popularity of the summer menu, Chef has found himself constantly popping in and out of the Dining Room during the busy dinner service to connect with guests. “This summer more than ever, I have been able to build relationships with a number of our regulars. The menu has been received really well and that has been fulfilling and inspiring for our team as we continue to incorporate more seasonal Vermont ingredients as they become available.”

Jerome went on to tell me he doesn’t just connect with guests in the dining room “It starts with someone asking for a recipe and leads to a dialogue of shared experiences of food and dining.” He said. “I will be chatting with one table and then another table will overhear the conversation and jump in and somehow we end up exchanging numbers because I have to get back to the kitchen. We end up texting about ingredients and recipes. I got some great inspiration for new desserts from our guests. Actually, I got one of my best bread recipes one night from a local Vermonter who was dining with us.” 

Local ingredients have driven the summer menu this year more than ever. 

With food costs, labor and product availability in an influx as a result of the pandemic, any restaurant knows the supply chain adds another layer of complexity for the kitchen. Lucky for us, we are surrounded by the best of the best here in Vermont when it comes to sourcing fresh, sustainable, local ingredients. 

“The relationships we’ve built with our vendors and farmers have been the difference.” Chef explained. “I’ve visited the farms and met the hard working producers that run them. I’ve gotten to know their animals, their soil, their families…I connect with them daily and consider them true friends. I feel very grateful for those relationships as product quality is where a great dish starts and ends.” 

I concluded our conversation by asking The Chef what he’s looking forward to next. He chuckled and said “Sunday and Monday!” (the two days of the week where the culinary team can actually get off their feet) before his next answer. “Well, of course fall foliage is right around the corner…we’re already experimenting with the autumn menu in what will be the busiest time of year for us. The goal is to showcase Vermont’s best and give people a dining experience they may have not had before coming to Edson Hill.”

Before he could go on, we were both interrupted by a sound the Edson Hill family knows all too well; Jerome’s full blast (ear piercing, and I mean ear piercing) ringtone. “Sorry Cass, this is Naked Acre Farms calling. I’ve gotta take this!” 

There you have it, folks.

*Read The Chef’s Bio*