Finding the Best Local Ingredients and Bringing them Home – The Grove Park Inn and their Farm to Table Philosophy
This is the 2nd post in my series of On the Road with Bunkycooks and the first article on our trip to Asheville, North Carolina and The Grove Park Inn.
The Bunkycooks traveled to Asheville to stay at The Grove Park Inn for a couple of days so that we could meet their Executive Chef, Denny Trantham, to speak with him about the use of local foods in support of their farm to table philosophy at the hotel.
Asheville, a mountain town located in the Appalachian region, is known for handmade crafts, music festivals and food. As we walked down the streets of Asheville, we were impressed by the sense of community and sharing that seems to be a part of everything and everyone there.
When we first walked into The Grove Park Inn, I thought I was in the movie The Shining and started looking for Jack Nicholson in the Great Hall! The hotel was built in 1913. This is a grand old hotel with a rich history. If you have seen that movie and have been to The Grove Park Inn, you will understand the resemblance. Then we were told about the Pink Lady!
There are stories of a young woman who was wearing a pink nightgown who fell to her death in the Palm Court atrium in the hotel sometime around 1920. Guests have reported seeing the “Pink Lady” and have also had personal encounters with her. In fact, one guest said that she was lying in bed and thought she was holding her husband’s hand, however, she then realized that he was not in the bed because he was across the room! When the woman turned to see whose hand she was holding, the sensation of the hand in hers disappeared.
When we checked in, we were given room 527. I heard that the Pink Lady likes to visit room 545, which was just down the hall from ours. I thought at this point that rather than writing about the use of local foods at The Grove Park Inn, I might end up with a story for Ghost Hunters!
I did survive the visit with no encounters of the Pink Lady kind and we had a wonderful stay, so now I can get back to why I went to visit Asheville!
I was introduced to Chef Trantham by Zeb Jolley. If you read my article about Jolley Farms, you will remember that Zeb and Chef Trantham have a relationship going way back, but most recently, Zeb started to grow some of the produce for Grove Park Inn (including micro greens and beets, heirloom tomatoes and specialty squashes).
Since his appointment as Executive Chef at The Grove Park Inn (about 10 months ago), Trantham is trying to think more locally. As a 7th generation Appalachian, he has grown up with many of the local farmers and is trying to help support their efforts as well as the community through the purchase of local products. He said that it really became obvious what needed to be done when he realized he was paying as much in shipping costs as he was for a product.
As you can imagine, this is very difficult to do with a 512 room hotel with three restaurants and a large catering operation. One restaurant at The Grove Park Inn, The Blue Ridge Dining Room, is the focus of the farm to table philosophy. Chef Charles Jett is the Chef de Cuisine of that restaurant. Chef Trantham says that they are also buying locally, whenever it is possible, for the rest of the hotel.
BEAUTIFUL! Love the swiss chard pic.
Awesome article! My keyboard is soaked from salivating all over it! Glad you did not meet the Pink Lady, either! And, kudos to Mr. Bunkycooks/action photographer on the wonderful photos!
Another great post! I’d love to visit during The Grove Park Inn during the annual Gingerbread Competition…maybe even compete someday.
You are sooo brave, but I bet you do a mean gingerbread house after what I’ve seen from the food at your Concert Series in Coronado! 😉
What a terrific story of Bunkycook’s visit to the wonderful Grove Park Inn. I’d help with that garden any day!
it is so great that the movement of chefs during the recent years have been focusing on local grown foods – collard greens are one of my favorite cool weather foods … growing up back home, our cooks always added a handful of mustard greens to the pot and a pinch of sugar to balance the bitterness, go figure…
We should all remember that not only does local produce taste better since they are not ripened in transport but it also is environmentally better. Consider how much pollution is created transporting those strawberries across country of grapes from Chile and peppers from Mexico. I was recently in a Georgia supermarket that was selling California Peaches. How crazy is that? The Peach state importing peaches at the height of peach season.
We all need to be more thoughtful about where our food comes from. Besides, doesn’t that Peach grown in Georgia and purchased at a local market in July and August taste far better than anything you buy from California or Mexico that is purchased throughout the year? I’d rather wait for that special moment when the peach juice jumps from that first peach in June or July than bite in to a mediocre peach purchased from far away during the off season.
I’m sure that for many restaurants creating seasonal menus with local ingredients is more difficult than importing ingredients to create a common menu year round.
Wow! Another great post! How do you find the time to do such amazing things, and interview such great people?! Maybe I should add this my list of “East Coast Places to Visit” for when we get to the RGB X-Country Wine Tour. 😉
Can’t wait for the third in your series!
We know just the place for a stop on a wine tour and the article is coming in the near future.
Wow, that place is beautiful. Another to add to our list of places to visit again. We actually were going to move to Asheville, had a real estate agent and were looking at houses but ended up making the decision to adopt instead. I think we did good. But, after reading your series and now that we’re a family, we may need to come back to that decision again.
I agree…that hotel is stunning. I love that region of the country, and I hope that in the future Ryan and I can spend more time exploring the Appalachian mountains. It is always so encouraging to read about chefs/restaurants that are trying to make a move towards more local ingredients. I would love to sit down to a meal at The Grove Park Inn and sample some of their regional fare. Thank you for sharing with us…we are always excited for these posts!
I love this philosophy and how open and welcoming the chefs are – they usually are when they are proud of and stand behind their food philosophies! The story is amazing – wow…I’m going to have to at least get a meal there when next in Asheville. Great visit!
Great article, as a small sustainable farm it is great to see how high profile chefs can influence attitudes toward use of more “local” foods. Thanks for a great mouthwatering post.
My cousin lives in Asheville, and I have been really wanting to visit him. This just gives me more reason to want to go there!
Lovely post and great to meet chef and people that loves their food!
My daughter and granchildren live in Asheville and we visit them quite often. It’s a beautiful place with friendly people. I’m glad to see that the Grove Park is leading the way in using locally produced foods. Good for them!
I’m really enjoying your “On The Road” series! Hubby and I adore both N.C. and S.C. so learning about Grove Park and their food philosophy puts them on the “must visit” list for our next trip out that way. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us all. 🙂
I can’t stop drooling over those collard greens – ohmy! with the bacon and ham hocks, it is what collard dreams are made of!
I love love love the article and that you are educating us all on the farm to table movement that is rejuvenating the local culinary scene. Also I am so happy that you and Mr. Bunky and getting to travel and stay and eat at all these wonderful places.
Devaki @ weavethousandflavors
Thanks for the comment, love your blog! What a fun post! 🙂
This looks like such a fun and informational trip. I love swiss chard, wish I had some to go pick straight from the garden. So glad you did not receive a visit from the Pink Lady. I do love Pink Lady apples though, and love visits from them in the Fall 🙂 Thanks for the great collard greens recipe.
I think you need to head to NC to visit! I promise lots of collard greens and Swiss chard will be on the menu! 🙂
Another lovely place and more great food! We will have to visit North Carolina soon 🙂
I hope you will visit. I promise we will have a great food adventure!
Wow…what a beautiful place, the swiss chard looks amazing. Loved the idea of “On the Road with Bunkycooks” very cool.
Thank you Anna. We are having fun visiting local and farms and places. Now, let’s see what we can do when it snows!!!
Whenever I mourn the passing of Gourmet magazine I can just come here for such insight and excitement. Truly a wonderful post. GREG
You are beyond complimentary! Thank you so much Greg … I do not know what to say other than thank you and I miss Gourmet too.
Another excellent, well-written article! Grove Park Inn is stunning and hauntingly (pun intended) beautiful. You’re much braver than I would’ve been…I probably would’ve jumped at every bump in the night looking for the Pink Lady!
Hats off to you for arranging and getting these amazing interviews and tour opportunities. Fantastic photography, Mr and Ms Bunkycooks. =o)
Thank you for such a wonderful article on my son, Chef Denny Trantham. We are so proud of him. He has helped in the kitchen since he could walk! Thanks again. Chef Denny’s mom.
Awesome post, dear! As someone who likes to live in other countries every now and again, I’ve definitely experienced