🍴MEET THE CHEF: Andrew Fontaine, Smokehouse at Antrim 1844 Country House Hotel, Taneytown, Maryland
Tripveel sat down with Chef Andrew Fontaine of Smokehouse at Antrim 1844 Country House Hotel in Taneytown, Maryland.
Tripveel: Tell us about your absolute favorite food and why readers should try it if they haven’t already.
Chef Fontaine: Foie Gras; it is such a versatile ingredient that you can really play around with. The many different techniques used to prepare it can show off so much about who you are as a chef and the evolution of your training.
Tripveel: When did you get your calling to become a chef?
Chef Fontaine: When I was in college, I was studying Economics with plans of eventually going to law school. I was also managing a restaurant and started working in the kitchen when we needed the help and I really fell in love with working on the line. Once you get the itch of working in a kitchen, nothing else can replace it.
Tripveel: What are 3 ingredients you couldn’t live without?
Chef Fontaine: Butter, Crème Fraiche, and Sherry Vinegar. These staples can alter richness, mouthfeel, acidity and the overall end product of what is on a plate.
Tripveel: We love plating. Does designing the perfect dish give you a rush?
Chef Fontaine: Absolutely! You can have an idea of what you want a plate to look like in your head, and then when everything is ready and you go to plate it, you change everything and start from scratch. When you finish a plate that really inspires you, it can be a really gratifying feeling.
Tripveel: What’s one of the most creative dishes you’ve created?
Chef Fontaine: We have been playing around with making a savory danish to serve as a component with a foie gras torchon where we replace part of the butter used in making the danish dough with duck fat.
Tripveel: Share your most recent awards and accreditations with us!
Chef Fontaine: Best of Award of Excellence—Wine Spectator, Diner’s Choice Award—Open Table 2017, Certificate of Excellence—TripAdvisor 2017, Top 1% of restaurants in North America —DiRona
Tripveel: What’s the latest trend in molecular gastronomy?
Chef Fontaine: Finding ways to incorporate innovative techniques without being there just for show. We don’t play around too much with molecular gastronomy here unless there are particular ways to introduce a component of a dish in an interesting way. For example, if a dish needs a little more fat to help it balance, we may add a powder made from a preserved lemon-infused olive oil, rather than drizzling a fish with extra virgin olive oil.
Tripveel: Where have you traveled that inspires you the most?
Chef Fontaine: My wife, Renee, and I were fortunate to spend some time exploring France. From some of the finest restaurants in Paris, the best farmer’s market I have ever seen in Beaune, and sipping on bubbles in Champagne. It was a truly inspiring trip.
Tripveel: What’s your favorite cocktail?
Chef Fontaine: An Old Fashioned, I am a sucker for good bourbon and rye.
Tripveel: What do you love about being the Executive Chef at Antrim 1844 Country House Hotel?
Chef Fontaine: Our owners and my team. I really love the freedom that I have to express myself through the food here. The trust that our owners have in our team makes me humbled and gracious to be here day in and day out. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do and accomplish the kind of goals that we have set for ourselves without the passion and dedication of the team that I have here.