*Chef’s note- The extern blog is completely un-edited (except for a couple of spelling changes) and they are encouraged to “tell it like it is” for the general public. There are no secrets at brix°.
It was in the streaming rain that we drove up to The Dutch Inn in Lexington VA
to begin our journey as externs at brix°. We had no idea what to expect and we are quite
certain neither did Chef Fountain. “We” are Erik and Sandee, a retired couple, who have
just graduated from the Culinary Institute of Virginia (CIV) in Norfolk and we are here
at brix° to satisfy our externship requirement for our degrees. We pretty much begged
Chef Fountain to give us this chance – two unproven wannabes- because of his willingness
to teach, his commitment to fresh and local produce, and the size of the small restaurant
(only 30 covers). Because that means we would have one on one instruction and the two
of us might even keep up “on the line” during busy nights, because at school we would
be “on the line” with two teams of 8 students serving 32 covers. And as far as fresh and
local produce we were looking forward to experience how Chef Fountain would highlight
the freshness of products, something we almost never have an opportunity to taste
anywhere in the world. All this made moving to Lexington for two months a commitment
to 10 weeks of “will our bodies survive the onslaught of 13 hours a day standing on your
feet” a true adventure.
It is funny to walk early in the morning in our CIV whites down Washington
Street towards brix° for our 9am meeting with Chef Fountain to find out what our day
would look like. As I walked in the small Co-op next door to the Dutch Inn for shampoo
which we forgot, the lady at the register asked what we were doing in town. As I told her
that we would work at brix°, she asked if Hunter was still working there as if we were
there to take over the restaurant; another lady we passed wondered if we were going to
teach the brix° staff new things instead of the other way around. What some chef whites
may do to perception.
As soon as we walked into brix°, Chef Nathan told us to follow him and stagier
John Stallard to the weekly Wednesday Farmers market, which is just one street over.
We were introduced to many of the producers of the fresh and local vegetables that we
are going to work with in the kitchen during the next ten weeks. We met Mitch Wapner
of Paradox Farms (did you know he comes daily at the end of the night to collect our
compost bin) , Don Huffman of Fox Ridge Farms, two interns, Chad and Rachel, of Stonehouse Farm,
Farmer Brown with his jellies and Rebecca Tilson of Broadview Ranch where much of brix° proteins are being
reared following the age old method of daily moving the cattle from pasture to pasture
like the bisons did. They also seem to have acorn fed pigs. The free range chickens bring
wonderful brown eggs. We hope to visit a few of the above during the coming weeks. So
please invite us, we would love to come. Of course the personal highlight of the market
visit was stopping at Annie Roller’s stand and buy her delicious sticky buns.
So back to the kitchen with all the fresh purchases and here our real work started
cleaning and prepping for the days to come. In the weeks to come we love to tell you
much more about our daily lives in the brix° kitchen.