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Make the Most of your Spruce Peak Stay by Planning Ahead.

One of the highlights of summer at Spruce Peak is A Taste of New England, a weekend-long feast of food and wine. First, we hand-selected extraordinary chefs hailing from Portland, Maine to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Then, we lured them away from their renowned restaurants with the promise of crafting sensational plates alongside other culinary masterminds at the base of Mt. Mansfield.

The festivities kick off on Friday, August 26th, with a cocktail party under the glittering Vermont stars on the Village Green. On Saturday evening, sit down to an unforgettable culinary collaboration, where each chef will curate a dish, accompanied by expert wine pairings and live music. The weekend wraps up on Sunday afternoon with a vibrant food and beverage showcase featuring Vermont artisans, producers, farms, and restaurants.

“This event is a journey for the senses, with the Green Mountains as our backdrop,” says Kendal Daiger, Director of Marketing for Spruce Peak. To give you a taste of what’s to come, we grilled eight of the fabulous chefs headed to Spruce about all things delicious. Get ready to wine and dine, New England style.

Tracy Chang

guest chef

PAGU • Cambridge, MA

  • 2020 Best Chef Northeast, Nominee The James Beard Foundation
  • 2020 Star Chefs Rising Stars Game Changer

How would you describe your cuisine?
Autobiographical: It is strongly influenced by my experiences cooking in Spain with friends as well as with [renowned Spanish chef] Martin Berasategui, and growing up cooking Taiwanese and Japanese foods with my grandmother, mom, and aunties. I love showcasing local, seasonal seafood and produce using techniques, flavors, and ingredients of the East and West.

What is your signature dish?
Guchi's midnight ramen. It’s a mix of broths seasoned with shio tare (a concentrated combination of chicken and pork bones cooked with ginger, salt, sake, mirin and garlic), and the toppings are meticulously prepared.

Who had the greatest influence on you becoming a chef?
While my grandmother never lived to see me be a chef, she had the greatest impact on me wanting to become one. She was a midwife who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1980s. Despite being in her 60s and having no experience [in the food industry], she opened two restaurants, one of which was a fine-dining Japanese restaurant with more than 100 seats. My fondest memories of food, family, cooking, and community are in that restaurant and in her home.

What is your top city to visit for fantastic food?
San Sebastian has a rich culinary history and there are pintxos bars everywhere. You can pop into [a bunch of them] and grab a drink and a few snacks at each.

The first dish you learned to master?
Fried rice. I loved experimenting as a kid and would put canned tuna in my fried rice!

Name three things you can’t live without in your home kitchen.
A sharp knife, chopsticks, and a reliable pan (I like the Made-In carbon steel pan)

Favorite ingredient for each season?
Spring: ramps; summer: strawberries; fall: shiitake mushrooms; winter: purple yams

What’s the best part of being a chef in Massachusetts?
People in Cambridge are open-minded, knowledgeable, well-traveled, curious, and adventurous. That makes for an interesting environment to foster creativity and collaboration. 

mark ladner

guest chef

bar enza • Cambridge, MA

  • 2015 Best Chefs in America, Winner The James Beard Foundation
  • 2017 Outstanding Chef, Semifinalist The James Beard Foundation
  • 2020 Star Chefs Rising Stars Game Changer

How would you describe your cuisine?
Neo-trattoria— Italian not held to regional authenticity

What is your signature dish?
Yesterday’s 100 layer lasagna al forno

Who had the greatest influence on you becoming a chef?
My mom, naturally

What is your top city to visit for fantastic food?
I lived in NYC for nearly 30 years. My favorite place to eat is Jackson Heights, Queens.

Name three things you can’t live without in your home kitchen.
Mustard, tamari, lime

Favorite ingredient for each season?
For warm weather: tomatoes, lemon basil, and cucumber. For cool weather: squash, potatoes, Tuscan kale.

david vargas

guest chef

vida cantina • portsmouth, nh

  • 2019 Best Chef Northeast, Semifinalist The James Beard Foundation

How would you describe your cuisine?
Modern Mexican [meets] New England

What is your signature dish?
Tacos.We grow all the corn locally to make our tortillas.

Who had the greatest influence on you becoming a chef?
My family. From my mother to my wife, life revolves around food and sharing it with others.

Name three things you can’t live without in your home kitchen.
With coffee, a cast-iron pan, and good honey, you can make anything happen.

Favorite ingredient for each season?
Spring: lettuce; summer: corn; fall: new potatoes; winter: greenhouse kale

chris viaud

guest chef

Greenleaf • Ansanm • Milford, NH

  • Top Chef competitor, Season 18
  • 2022 Emerging Chef, Semifinalist The James Beard Foundation

How would you describe your cuisine?
Contemporary American rooted in French techniques. I pull inspiration and influences from travel, research, and my Haitian heritage.

What is your signature dish?
Herb-crusted cod with basil-almond puree and pancetta

What is your top city to visit for fantastic food?
New Orleans and Charleston

Name three things you can’t live without in your home kitchen.
A sharp knife, blender, and pantry stocked with spices

Favorite ingredient for each season?
Spring: ramps; summer: tomatoes; fall: sweet potatoes; winter: sunchokes

What’s the best part of being a chef in New Hampshire?
The beautiful, farm-fresh, seasonal products. Having the ability to connect with the farmers and help share their story through food is truly rewarding.

douglass williams

guest chef

Mida South End • Mida Newton • Apizza Boston • Boston, MA

  • 2022 Outstanding Chef, Semifinalist The James Beard Foundation
  • 2020 Best Chef Northeast, Semifinalist The James Beard Foundation

How would you describe your cuisine?
I try to craft dishes that feel familiar, speak to a time and place, and feed the soul. At MIDA we focus on Italian dishes that are both classic and evolved.

What is your signature dish?
Short rib lasagna

What influenced you to become a chef?
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease as a teenager, and had to figure out how best to feed myself. I became enthusiastic about food’s effect on the mind and spirit, and that led me to the joy of feeding people.

What is your top city to visit for fantastic food?
Because I grew up in Atlantic City, I’m always excited to get back to New York City. If I were to head there today, I’d visit Koreatown first, [followed by] Bonnie’s in Brooklyn for amazing Cantonese. And Lucali makes the best pizza anywhere!

The first dish you learned to master?
A french omelet

Name three things you can’t live without in your home kitchen.
A heavy duty pan you can put into the oven (I like my Calphalon), a microplane, and a moderately sized French or Japanese serrated knife

Favorite ingredient for each season?
Spring: pea greens; summer: watermelon; fall: figs; winter: rutabaga

colin wyatt

guest chef

Twelve • Portland, ME

  • 2015 Best Chefs in America, Winner The James Beard Foundation
  • 2017 Outstanding Chef, Semifinalist The James Beard Foundation • 2020 Star Chefs Rising Stars Game Changer

How would you describe your cuisine?
Modern American with a focus on Maine ingredients

What is your signature dish?
Grilled monkfish with whey broth

Who had the greatest influence on you becoming a chef?
Steve and Michelle Corry [of Five Fifty-Five in Portland] were the first people to show me that this could be my career. They had a professionalism and level of detail that appealed to me as a young cook.

What is your top city to visit for fantastic food?
I fell in love with the neo-bistro movement in Paris— and the wine and patisseries don’t hurt either!

The first dish you learned to master?
The Reuben. It was the first time I tried a recipe repeatedly to figure out the best way to make it.

Name three things you can’t live without in your home kitchen.
Maldon sea salt, good olive oil and lemons.With these three ingredients and great produce you can make a meal out of anything.

Favorite ingredient for each season?
Spring: asparagus; summer: tomatoes; fall: bitter greens; winter: celery root.

What’s the best part of being a chef in Maine? Being able to surround myself with creative people of all types. As a chef, I am inspired not just by food or restaurants, but also by the artists and writers who call Maine home.

sean blomgren

host chef

Alpine Hall • Tipsy Trout • Stowe, VT

How would you describe your cuisine?
It has a taste of place: classically influenced, while showcasing the bounty of Vermont.

What is your signature dish?
The dish that has stood up over the years is our crispy brussels sprouts. The combination of the smoked maple syrup and Vermont feta fondue make for a great combination of sweet and savory.

Who had the greatest influence on you becoming a chef?
My mother was always entertaining and going to large family gatherings where food was at the center. My grandmother was also a great cook and even published a cookbook!

What is your top city to visit for fantastic food?
I used to live in Charleston and it definitely has a place in my heart. The way chefs were able to weave tradition and progress was inspirational.

The first dish you learned to master?
My grandmother’s crepes are the dish I’ve probably made and eaten more than any other.

Name three things you can’t live without in your home kitchen.
A sharp knife, a sturdy cutting board, and deli-style containers. These affordable, leak-proof, and durable containers double as water cups, food storage, and salt cups.

Favorite ingredient for each season?
Spring: asparagus; summer: corn; fall: squash; winter: oysters

What’s the best part of being a chef in Vermont?
The passion of the producers and the uncompromising focus that goes into everything made here highlights the incredible sense of pride that Vermonters have.

jessica quiet

host chef

Alpine Hall • Tipsy Trout • Stowe, VTt

How would you describe your style of cooking?
Vibrant, classical with a modern twist, edgy, and artsy. I keep tabs on what’s trending in the pastry world, and then add my own twist. I love splashes of color and incorporating different styles of chocolate décor into my dishes.

What is your signature dessert?
Chocolate angel food cake. I use black cocoa powder for the sponge, which creates a rich, complex chocolate flavor while maintaining a delicate crumb and moisture. I pair it with sweetened ricotta cream and local raw honeycomb toffee.

Who had the greatest influence on you becoming a pastry chef?
My high school teacher. I took culinary courses as a teen and there was a national youth cooking competition. My teacher asked if I would like to train with her to compete in the pastry category. She took me under her wing and I became like a sponge, absorbing knowledge from her. I went on to win 4th place in the U.S and have never looked back.

What is your top city to visit for fantastic food?
Portland, Maine. Gross Confections Bar is incredible, and I love the classic whoopie pies from Cape Whoopies. DuckFat and Taco Escobarr are my two favorite restaurants. The duck fat poutine is out of this world, and I always crave the chipotle sweet potato taquitos from Taco Escobarr.

The first dessert you learned to master?
I was a master chocolatier in Florida for the first four years of my professional career, where I learned to create bonbons and truffles.

Name three things you can’t live without in your home kitchen.

Can I list four? An immersion blender, a KitchenAid mixer, silpats, and a decent pastry knife/tool kit all open up so much potential!

Favorite ingredient for each season? Spring: rhubarb; summer: wild strawberries; fall: honeycrisp apples; winter: squash What’s the best part of being a Chef in VT? I love working with local vendors to create custom menus, source the freshest ingredients, and visit farms and farmers markets. The change in seasons also allows me to be very versatile.

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