Venture behind the scenes, and you’ll find the palate is taken very seriously in The Greenbrier kitchens. At the helm is Executive Chef Bryan Skelding. A highly respected leader in the industry, his 23-year career has taken him across the country and back again more than once.
His responsibilities at The Greenbrier include no less than eight restaurants, catered events and a team of chefs. He gave us his take on a trend that’s sweeping the countryside in a very local way. It’s the farm-to-table movement, where communities, large and small, are embracing a very healthy and nutritious alternative to food production.
Chef Skelding, how would you define farm-to-table?
It’s about sourcing things from as close to your back porch as possible. It’s about knowing where your food comes from and how it was grown. Much of The Greenbrier’s produce is harvested on a farm less than one hour from here. In our case, we like to meet directly with the farmer to select produce and seed varieties for the coming season. It’s a very personal approach to food.
Have you seen a demand for locally sourced food?
Absolutely. This past summer I collected wild mushrooms from The Greenbrier property and used them in a farm-to-table dinner. What resonates today is very different than just a few years ago. Our diners want fresh, straight from the earth. They want to know what they are eating. They want to know its story.
What difference does farm-to-table make in the dining experience?
It comes down to flavor, and it’s pretty hard to improve on nature’s technique. A tomato ripened on the vine with the assistance of the sun, rain and nutrients will produce a flavor-packed piece of fruit. Sourcing locally, it’s picked at the peak of freshness. You can’t get better than that.
The demands of your job must keep you very busy. How do you like to spend your free time?
For the most part, I’m pretty much a home-body. It’s not uncommon to find me in the kitchen with my wife, Sarah, and two daughters, Lucy and Hatcher (ages 7 and 4). Lucy is mastering the art of salad vinaigrettes. Hatcher still prefers to watch the proceedings and serve as taste tester.
SMOKED BEEF SHORT RIB
It’s a rare treat to follow an executive chef around his kitchen. Chef Skelding shared one his favorite meats served family-style at The Greenbrier’s farm-to-table feasts. Chef likes to pair it with a selection of barbecue dipping sauces and fresh-from-the-farm vegetables. With a simple list of ingredients and some time management at the smoker, we think you’ll be pleased with the “tender” results of this main course.
INGREDIENTS (10 servings)
6lb Whole bone-in short rib
Favorite hot sauce
Cracked black pepper
Apple cider vinegar (in spray bottle)
1. Dry off short rib, and cover in a thin layer of your favorite hot sauce.
TIP: Look for a hot sauce that has a thicker consistency. Chef uses Chrystal Louisiana Pure, an ode to The Saints summer training camp at The Greenbrier.
2. Season liberally with kosher salt and then black pepper, being careful not to disturb the even layer of seasonings.
NOTE: This layered texture gives the smoke something to stick to.
3. Let sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes.
4. In the meantime, have smoker ready at 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Place the short rib in smoker. Smoke for 6 hours or until tender.
6. At 3 hours, the short rib should have a good “bark.” Start spraying with apple cider vinegar, or another liquid of your choosing to keep moist. Repeat about every 30 minutes.