Created: Wednesday, 15 July 2015 11:49
“Nothing can compare in freshness to the produce we get from our garden,” Chef Brian Widmer says as he bustles around the kitchen in preparation for the evening’s dinner service. “We have a reputation for using only high quality produce so our purveyors know to bring us the best. We don’t take sub-par products; we want the best of the best and the freshest ingredients coming out of our kitchen.”
Chef Brian Widmer was raised and went to school on the East Coast. His career lead him from the Grand Canyon, to the Bay area, and in 2013 back to the West and Garland’s Oak Creek Lodge. Chef Brian Widmer has been the Executive Chef at Garland’s since 2013 and has been creating timeless dishes that guests can’t get enough of.
“I want our guests to be completely satisfied when they leave the restaurant. I want them to eat something that they can’t get anywhere else,” Widmer explains. “I am very familiar with the culinary scene in the Bay area, and in major markets like New York City – people expect high quality there. So I want to defy expectations and show people what they can get right here in Arizona. What we are doing here is just as good, if not better in some ways, than the food scene in big cities.”
So what is Garland’s Oak Creek Lodge doing to get their culinary edge? Garland’s is bringing the farm-to-table experience alive in Sedona. The menu is shaped around the fresh produce that comes straight from the gardens, orchards and greenhouse on the property. Their veteran gardener, Mario Valeruz, knows the grounds well. He knows what will grow, what won’t and how to get the best ingredients using organic practice. The fresh, natural ingredients combined with Widmer’s experience result in incredible dishes that reflect the seasons, surrounding area and his own creativity.
“When I plan my menus I look at what we have available and creative ways I can infuse those ingredients throughout the week. My first season here, we had one of the biggest crops of peaches Garland’s has ever had. We then had to incorporate these fruits into a lot of dishes, which forces you to get inventive with the way you cook and transform your ingredients.” Widmer talks as he peels the beautiful red, crisp skins off of roasted tomatoes. “That’s the challenge and the beauty of working with produce on site. There is a flexibility with being able to go to the garden and see what is ripe and ready to be used. For example, I was able to switch the dessert tonight since we had plums ripe and ready to be picked. At the same time, you have to be mindful of what is available and be sure that you are using, not wasting what we have here.”
Widmer notices the clear difference in the quality of the produce that comes from the gardens and insists on using what they have on site. “I make homemade pasta every other week and I won’t do pasta if I don’t have eggs from the property. I’ve noticed a huge difference in the way the way the pasta comes together with the eggs from our coop. The eggs have a higher fat content, they are all a little different and they produce an overall better pasta.”
When you dine at Garland’s you can taste the freshness and the quality in each dish. When you speak to guests who have been coming for years and years, they always praise the dining experience. You truly cannot get the same, high level dishes anywhere else.
“A lot of our guests return year after year so I always try to mix up the menus and try some new things. I compare the menus from last year to make sure they are not the same. We will do holiday inspired meals, like last year we did barbecue over fourth of July weekend,” Widmer talks as he works, he never stops moving. “We do seasonal dishes using ingredients like our winter squash and an amazing Heirloom Pumpkin that is from New England. I love when we get to use all of the fresh fruit, the cherries, apricots, peaches and apples. People always rave about the meals but really it is our ingredients – they are all top notch, vine ripened and organic.”
Chef Widmer is an undeniable force in the kitchen. He is highly attentive to every dish that goes out of the kitchen, as well as everything coming in from the grounds. He has a small staff of three that help him prepare dinner services. He is focused on what he does and has plans for a future at Garland’s.
“As we continue I would like to build on our organic produce and try to locally source everything. We get some of our products from purveyors, and they do a great job getting us high quality items, but I would like to be getting everything from our own grounds and local farmers, growers and shops.”
With Chef Widmer at the helm, there are no limits that Garland’s cannot reach. As their reputation continues to grow for fine dining, the dishes enjoyed by guests are sure to amaze. Stay tuned for more updates from the Garland’s kitchen. You can book a stay and check availability by calling: (928) 282-3343.
You can meet Chef Brian Widmer at our special event during Organic Gardening Month and hear all about his career in the kitchen.
Thursday July 23, 2015 – Meet the Chef: Brian Widmer
Registration Fee: $15 (All proceeds will be donated to Gardens for Humanity, a Sedona non-profit)
At this event, guests can hear from Chef Brian his techniques, the way he creates and incorporates dishes using local products and produce straight from the garden. Participants will be able to ask Chef Brian questions and learn what it takes to be the chef at a highly rated retreat.
Spots are limited so pre-registration is required! You can purchase your tickets via EventBrite