Vermont has only one certified master chef — Arnd Sievers, who ran the kitchen for several years at the Sheraton Burlington Hotel & Conference Center. Last month, he joined executive chef Shawn Calley at the Essex Culinary Resort & Spa as the new director of food and beverage. Sievers holds the same position at the Ponds at Bolton Valley Resort, which is owned by the Essex.
One of Sievers’ first orders of business was closing Butler’s Farm, the farm-to-table restaurant that opened at the Essex last September, to make room for a new concept. By Memorial Day, the popular Tavern at the Essex will reopen in the larger of two restaurant spaces, says Sievers. In the smaller area — which the Tavern will continue to occupy until the eve of its move — Sievers will open a yet-to-be-named fine-dining restaurant.
At this new restaurant, an open kitchen will create a chef’s-table feel, allowing diners to interact directly with the chef as he prepares “eclectic farm-to-table” meals. Expect experiments, too. Sievers says the menu will feature sous-vide-prepared meats, foods frozen on an anti-griddle and foams associated with molecular gastronomy.
Besides a much larger bar for locals to hang out in, the expanded Tavern will boast changes of its own. The resort’s kitchen garden will double in size, and seating will be added beside it. “We really want to put it to the next level as a culinary resort,” says Sievers. “Cooks [will] go out and pick the vegetables and explain to the customer what they’re doing with the vegetables.” The tavern menu will grow to include local, grass-fed steaks dry aged on site.
Other additions that Sievers hopes will help establish the inn as a destination include daytime demonstration classes in the dinner-only fine-dining restaurant and a farmers market. Starting June 5, farmers will converge on the resort’s front lawn to sell their wares every Sunday. Look for tasty treats from the bakery at the Essex, too.