About the Chef
From the age of fourteen, I was comfortable cooking. The chocolate chip cookie company that my friend, Randi, and I ran throughout the summer of 1982 not only kept us out of trouble, but brought us each a whopping $11.00 per week. By the age of sixteen I was cooking at a local breakfast place and I was applying to culinary schools soon after my second year of college began.
I chose New England Culinary Institute for its small student-teacher ratio and close proximity to my hometown of Manchester, Vermont. I did well there and quickly absorbed as much as I could from the great chefs with whom I worked in New England and Aspen, Colorado. Three of the largest influences on my style were Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier of Arrow’s in Ogunquit, Maine and Alex Kim, for whom I was sous chef at Syzygy in Aspen, Colorado.
In 1996 I became chef of my own place, The Perfect Wife Restaurant and Tavern. This was an incredibly exciting opportunity for me to “drive the bus” and create a style of cooking that I could call my own. I have labeled my style as “freestyle” as I like to start with classic dishes and give them my own personal twist. I am a proud member of the Vermont Fresh Network and am a firm supporter of local agriculture and locally produced foods. This is reflected in my menus which change with the seasons.
The Perfect Wife Dining Room (downstairs) specialized in fine dining for 22 years before transitioning to a full-time private events venue on March 17, 2018. With this change, our Restaurant & Tavern menu (upstairs) was expanded to include some of the Dining Room favorites. Specialty dishes added to the Tavern menu included the Warm Spinach Salad with a Vermont Creamery Goat Cheese Fritter, the Sesame-Crusted Yellowfin Tuna (a house favorite since 1996) and the Sautéed Jumbo Shrimp Scampi served over Vermont Pasta Company’s spinach and roasted garlic ravioli. Additionally, I remain focused on incorporating more meatless menu options for a balance of hearty and healthy comfort food selections.
Upstairs, The Perfect Wife Restaurant & Tavern continues to be a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike. We serve everything from home-style comfort foods like Chicken Pot Pie to out-of-the-ordinary favorites, like our Cajun Popcorn (beer-battered crawfish tails.) Live music on the weekends is also a big draw in the Tavern. We are pleased maintain our standing as the #1 live music venue in Manchester, Vermont. We are big supporters of local bands and the music scene. Because of our success with as a leading caterer in the region, for over 20 years, we are pleased to offer our downstairs and outdoor gardens for private events year-round.
And what’s a chef bio without a little name dropping? I have had the pleasure of appearing five times on the Food Network, including a Thanksgiving special with Sara Moulton taped here in Manchester in 2002 and two victories on “Ready, Set, Cook!” I was also chosen to represent the state and the USA in Dijon, France in July of 2009 at the Festival of Music and Food. I kept great company among a great line-up of American chefs including Bill Yosses, former White House pastry chef. It was an honor and a spectacular experience. More recently, I was named Vermont’s Chef of the Year by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce.
Aside from my time at The Perfect Wife, I am raising my son, Duncan, an avid soccer player, hockey star and short stop. And he can beat me down the mountain on skis or a snowboard. Duncan has an interest in cooking, but he can’t wait to be a bus boy. Lucky me!
I stay very busy with our community, sponsoring charitable events in and around Manchester. I often donate my time, fundraising for local non-profit groups. Increasing an awareness on the importance of eating locally grown foods is a major focus. Vermont has so much to offer, and by supporting neighboring businesses, we can all contribute to cultivating a strong economy. Living in this gorgeous land can and will remain profitable and enjoyable for all of us, with a collective dedication to endorsing all things local.