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Interview with Chef Will Gilson, appearing at The Sun WineFest, January 24-26, 2014
The Sun WineFest ’14 is this weekend and as always it attracts some of the best names in the food, wine and spirits world to the Mohegan Sun Resort in southeastern Connecticut. Chef/Owner Will Gilson of Puritan & Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts is one the many talented chefs presenting a dish at The WineFest’s Saturday night Celebrity Chef Dine Around. Gilson’s restaurant Puritan & Company is known for highlighting the bounty of New England, showcasing ingredients that define the restaurant, the region and the culture. For The Sun WineFest Gilson is preparing a Nantucket Bay Scallop Crudo which is being paired with four excellent wines from Caves d’Esclans. Gilson talked with us about being a part of The Sun WineFest, his just-over-one-year-old restaurant and sourcing ingredients from his family farm in Groton, Massachusetts. eat drink RI: Tell us about the dish you’re preparing for the Celebrity Chef Dine Around on Saturday night? Will Gilson: For The Sun WineFest we’re doing a Nantucket Bay Scallop Crudo incorporating fresh grated horseradish, brown butter and Meyer lemon. They’re all things that are in season and flavors that we think go well with each other. We’re highlighting the fact that it’s Nantucket Bay Scallop season. edRI: Is this your first time at The Sun WineFest? WG: Yes, [it’s] my first time doing the WineFest, and my first time at Mohegan Sun. It’ll be fun to hang out down there, a fun get together for chefs that work events with one another and get a chance to have a weekend collaborating and chatting. I’m excited to be a part of something that’s going to be fun. edRI: How is Puritan & Company one year on? WG: We opened up in December of 2012 and in 2013 it seemed like everybody opened a restaurant. Boston and Cambridge in general were very hot with restaurants in all different areas opening up. It made it very competitive out there for restaurants getting their name out there as well as being able to staff the restaurants. We need hungry cooks in a generation where everyone wants to be a chef. edRI: What does 2014 hold? WG: This year it’s interesting. What we’re really looking for in 2014 is a chance for us to plant our feet in our neighborhood and be a neighborhood restaurant. We’ll work with our farm, that we have out in Groton at my dad’s place, to really try to plant the seeds literally and figuratively for what we’re going to be growing and utilizing in the restaurant during the produce season and be able to really feature what we do here at the restaurant in different ways. We’ll be trying to do tasting evenings where we’re highlighting special menus. We’re going to do a tribute to Julia Child one night in March. We’re going to have an opportunity to do a fish and game dinner next week, highlighting fish and game this time of year. Once we get into summertime we’ll be able to hopefully do some thematic dinners based on what comes into season that time of year. edRI: How is working with the farm? WG: The farm is good. This is the first year in my whole life that I’ve got my dad deciding to not heat the greenhouses over the wintertime, which helps him get some better sleep. I remember being a kid and having to pull the late shift and check them until about 2 a.m. to make sure the heat was working and then he’d wake up at 4 a.m. But this year we really learned how the land on the 7 acres works and were able to plant the produce accordingly that’s going to work best for us. Last summer we didn’t even know how busy we were going to be or what stuff we were going to be able to utilize or what the menu was going to be, so every once in a while we’d have a set of bins of produce showing up here and we’d have to make it work. Now I think that we’ll be able to write a menu and write a planting and harvest schedule based on what we’re going to want to grow. edRI: Closing thoughts about The Sun WineFest? WG: At a time of year where things are kind of dark and dreary, it’s great we can get a bunch of people together to have some fun.The Sun WineFest ’14 runs Friday, January 24 through Sunday, January 26 at Mohegan Sun. Check the site for more information including schedule of events, guest chefs and exhibitors.