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🔪 MEET THE CHEF: Blake Hartwick of Bonterra Dining & Wine Room in Charlotte, North Carolina

🔪 MEET THE CHEF: Blake Hartwick of Bonterra Dining & Wine Room in Charlotte, North Carolina

Tripveel sat down with Executive Chef Blake Hartwick of Bonterra Dining & Wine Room in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Executive Chef Blake Hartwick of Bonterra Dining & Wine Room

Executive Chef Blake Hartwick of Bonterra Dining & Wine Room

Where did you grow up and where have you traveled to that has helped inspire and shape your cooking philosophy? 

I grew up in Collinsville, Virginia, outside of Martinsville. Throughout my life, I visited places like New York, Napa and Europe, all of which helped shape my cooking philosophy. I spent time in Spain working at Casino de Madrid and NoDo. I also served as Chef de Cuisine at the Four Star, Four Diamond Greenbrier Resort. Also, I traveled to the James Beard House featuring a “Taste of Charlotte” menu and was invited to attend the James Beard Celebrity Chef Dinner in Palisades, Virginia.

Bonterra Dining & Wine Room

Bonterra Dining & Wine Room

Tell our readers an interesting fact or two about yourself. 

In addition to cooking at Bonterra, I love cooking at home. On my nights away from the restaurant, we do theme nights to mix things up and my young daughter always is a part of it. I’m trying to develop her palate and make her appreciate food. It always keeps things interesting! I love when my wife and daughter both get involved in cooking—they get really excited about baking and there is always something delicious coming out of the oven!

Tell us about your absolute favorite food and why readers should try it if they haven’t already. 

Many people know Bonterra for our famed Fried Lobster Tail. It is consistently one of the most requested items on our menu. But, my favorite dish is our Pimento Cheese, and it’s easily my favorite food. It’s a close family recipe and our guests love it. Both my parents and my grandparents made it. That’s one of the nice things about Bonterra—whether you are in the mood for lobster or for a great dish of pimento cheese, we can tempt every taste bud!

Bonterra Dining & Wine Room

Bonterra Dining & Wine Room

What are three ingredients that you simply couldn’t live without? 

That is a tough question! I’ll start with fresh local produce from our nearby farm partners. We are so lucky to have those partnerships and the access to such quality food. Other favorite ingredients pop up all the time, from Duke’s mayonnaise to pork fat to different vinegars. Fresh herbs like thyme and oregano really help finish dishes. We grow them at Bonterra and pick them fresh daily.

We love the art behind plating. What do you love about designing the perfect dish? 

Designing the perfect dish is a process. We really shake down the dish before it gets out in the dining room. We start by building it a few different ways and take a look at it and come back to it later on and refine it. It’s never just sent straight out. A lot of it is dictated by what we get from local farmers, so that’s where we start putting a dish together. We focus on the dish from a dimensional standpoint and look for things like color and presentation as we plate.

Tell us about one of the most creative dishes you’ve created?

Bonterra typically has a scallop dish on the menu and a notable one that I especially liked included so many different flavor profiles. We started with succulent scallops and served them with Georgia Shrimp, Jefferson Red Rice Grits (which are very earthy and nutty), Curried Cauliflower, Hen of the Woods Mushrooms and Romesco Sauce. We use the freshest sustainable seafood available and the Scallops paired with the Georgia Shrimp were divine.

Bonterra Dining & Wine Room

Bonterra Dining & Wine Room

Share your most recent awards and accreditations with us! 

Both Bonterra and I are the official Charlotte partners for “Taste of the NFL,” which is such a big compliment. We love representing Charlotte each year at this event and are proud of all the funds raised for people in need. In addition, 2019 marks Bonterra’s 20th year. We are incredibly proud that our guests have chosen us for 20 years and counting!

What are some of the latest trends you’re seeing in top restaurants across the globe?

I think there is a big trend towards sustainable foods now, especially with seafood. We are lucky that there are so many different farmers with a great selection. It makes for more diverse offerings.

Bonterra Dining & Wine Room

Bonterra Dining & Wine Room

What’s your favorite cocktail or liquor?

Well, I’m more of a wine or bourbon guy. Bonterra is known for our wine list, which includes over 200 wines by the glass. When your wine pairs perfectly with your meal, the flavors for both really come alive. Sometimes though, when I’m relaxing on a day off, I love a good bourbon.

What do you love about being Executive Chef at Bonterra Dining & Wine Room in Charlotte, North Carolina?

That is easy. I love the family that we have at Bonterra, with everyone that works here and the team we have that we have been building during the years and years of working together. It includes everyone, from servers to dishwashers to cooks and we don’t have a high turnover of people. It’s a family environment and everyone believes in it and everyone really works together. This extends to customers too. Our regulars are like family and we always love new guests when they come in because they quickly become like family.


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