WHO WE ARE
As long I can remember, I've been drawn to - and working in - the hospitality industry. I've always loved the wonderfully unique misfits whom the restaurant world would pull in. I'll never forget the first restaurant group I worked for as a teenager and meeting my first Restaurateur - I was hooked.
I wanted to learn every position in a restaurant I possibly could and left my childhood playground of New York City behind for the glitz and glamour of the fast paced ski town in the Rockies - Vail, Colorado.
I started working in Vail as a host and barista, learning what makes a perfectly drawn espresso shot and how air bubbles affect dairy during steaming. I quickly moved into bartending, working impossibly late shifts mastering making whiskey sodas by the dozen. From there, I moved on to work as a lead server at a slopeside steakhouse - I loved my job and was always asking for more shifts to the point that I started running the company orientation for new employees.
Hungry to learn and experience more, I developed a deep interest in wine studies. Something about the way one can have such a sensory experience in a glass, you can taste, smell and see a place you may have never been. I passed my level I and level II Sommelier certifications and landed a job working full time as a Sommelier for a high-end luxury hotel.
While working as a Sommelier I met Josh one fateful evening and 10 months later we decided to make a change from mountain ski own life and find our tribe and community. We chose my birth place of Vermont and took a leap of faith to make the 3,000 mile journey east. It wasn't hard for us to fall completely in love with the Green Mountain state and to make the decision to open a restaurant of our own - something I had been dreaming of for a very long time.
After nearly a year of looking before we found the Fox Stand in Royalton and 18 months before Wild Roots opened to the public. We are so honored to be a part of the Upper Valley community and to bring this dream to life.
Growing up in Roswell, New Mexico food for me was always very authentic and homemade. I grew up on classic, country recipes with a Southwestern-twist and from a young age remember my mom in the kitchen slow braising a roast or dad making his favorite steaks on the grill. I also developed a healthy respect for nature and the outdoors, spending most of my free time out fishing or hunting with my dad. Before leaving Roswell I worked several jobs from painting to welding work but I fell in love with the hospitality industry after moving to Vail, Colorado and getting a job in a fast-paced bar where I remained for a few years.
After meeting Jayne and thinking about leaving the Rocky Mountains, it was an easy choice to move across the country to Vermont (especially as I am a life-long Red Sox fan). When we arrived here and started getting involved in the farming and agricultural scene we were blown away by the abundance of produce, artisans and makers throughout the state. From there it made sense to continue chasing our dream and open up Wild Roots Restaurant.
Once we set plans in motion, it took Jayne and I nearly a year of searching to find the ideal location for the restaurant. We considered many different towns around the Upper Valley area before settling on Royalton and taking over the Fox Stand Inn.
The building that houses Wild Roots restaurant is rich in history, boasting over 100 years as a tavern and gathering place. Before deciding on a name or even menu concept, Jayne and I always loved the idea of people coming together around a great meal. The food should tell stories as rich as those brought to the table, stories of its place and how it came to be.
At Wild Roots, we think about how to make delicious food approachable and to be mindful in all that we do. In keeping with our core food concept, we aim to source beverages locally and rotate offerings seasonally.
The idea of making food and offering the simple gesture of a meal captivated me. I can recall my grandfather’s stories of his bakeries in Flushing, NYC and his life as a Jewish Hungarian immigrant who made something great out of nothing. The passion he had for sharing his gift of baking and my grandmothers’ traditional meals around the table has always spoken to me.
Growing up in the Washington D.C area I was fortunate to find opportunities through education. Thrilled by the constant pursuit for knowledge I competed at the national level for scholarship programs and received my Bachelors Degree in Culinary Arts from the New England Culinary Institute. After graduating, I arrived at The Home Hill Inn, located along the banks of the Connecticut River. There, I was spoiled by the abundant produce and the community’s enthusiasm for local quality. By 2013 I had received Yankee Magazine’s Best Seasonal Menu. The honor went to the River Road and Upper Valley community.
Yet I had still had so much to learn and grow and I left the Upper Valley in search of guidance and mentoring. In late 2013 I began working for Chef Brad Farmerie and Chef Jonnatan Leiva in Napa, CA. They are extraordinary, complex, thoughtful and demanding chefs who taught me a new vision. Our purpose was to capture the essence of local agriculture and elevate the ingredients through technique.
2015 brought all of my experience together while working at the highly regarded Beast + Bottle Restaurant in Denver, CO. Under the guidance of Chef Paul C. Reilly, I learned to utilize an ever-growing list of local farmers and ranchers. The focus was on whole animal butchery, but we always respected the diverse farming community and their ability to grow beautiful high desert produce. “Do not cook by the book”, is a lesson I learned, but be open to what is being grown and readily available.
After almost four years removed from the community where I had begun my culinary career I was nostalgic to return with what I had learned and eagerly wanted to contribute. The opportunity presented itself to become the founding Executive Chef at Wild Roots. I know the next chapter will be the most exciting. We look forward to gathering, preparing, and serving food from this community.