Thursday, December 08, 2011


Seems the folks over at Time Magazine have picked regional foods as a hot trend and they happen to think that New PA Dutch is pretty cool. I agree!

Check out the link below.
Top 10 of Everything 2011

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Made in America - The Cookbook

Have you ever left a dinner at The Sheppard Mansion or The Carriage House Market and thought to yourself, 'I'd love to have that pretzel roll recipe'?

Well, buy Lucy Lean's new book 'Made in America - Our Best Chefs reinvent comfort food' and you'll have that recipe! Yep, you read that correctly. The pretzel roll recipe is featured along with recipe from Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse and John Besh. What a huge win for PA Dutch food! I've always said that our regional cuisine can go toe to toe with any other regional cuisine and I think the inclusion in this book goes a long way to proving it! Lucy did an amazing job with this book and I'm really excited to have had the opportunity to share a small taste of New PA Dutch cuisine!

The books are available for purchase at both the restaurant and Carriage House Market. Pick one up after dinner or your weekly shopping in the Market.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Education Nation - Day 6 'Good enough is never good enough'

I'm fixated on shoo fly pie. I go to the York Fair and do shoo fly pie 'tastings' where I eat every available shoo fly pie and decide which one I like the best. As with the chicken and dumplings, Shoo fly pie=PA Dutch. Plain and simple. Shoo Fly Pie Float=New Pa Dutch. Plain and Simple.

This is the 2011 version of The Pie. Last year, it was a deep fried molasses ice cream. This year, well, you'll see. Molasses soda. Spiced ice cream. Toasted oat whipped cream. Pie crust twist. Done. Holy cow.

We're always looking to make it better. Good enough is never good enough.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Education Nation - Day 5 'Be Who You Are'

I don't know if it gets any more PA Dutch than 'creamed chicken and waffles'. No, this isn't Snoop Dogg's Roscoe's Fried Chicken and Waffles. This is Andy's Creamed Chicken and Waffles.

Wanna 'Eat like you live here'? Then you NEED to tuck into some chicken and waffles.

What's up with 'Be who you are'? We're not trying to reinvent the wheel here. We're just trying to put together great plates of food that honor the cuisine of our area, respect the product and producers and make people happy.

So, here it is. Creamed Rettland Farms chicken, oyster mushrooms, tiny vegetables and a toasted oat waffle. I gotta tell's REALLY good.

Education Nation - Day 4 The Importance of Looking Back

The long and the short of this post is 'know your history'. How many times have you heard someone talking about a current event say 'if they had studied their history, they would have never done THAT'?

I take 'looking back' very seriously. At the restaurant, we are trying to present a real sense of our area. The flavor of the land; an experience you can't get anywhere else. In order to do that, we need to look to the land, but also look to our past generations and see how their foods can influence and inspire the food that we cook and the menus that we write today. Creativity for creativity's sake is simply mental masturbation. Cuisine needs roots, plain and simple. You HAVE to look back in order to look forward. In 'looking back' we are able to explore dishes like 'schnitz und knepp', shoo fly pie, chicken and dumplings, and scrapple. Reading old cookbooks from the area is a great resource, but one of the greatest resources in talking to people about dishes they loved growing up or dishes they were served at a gathering that still resonate in their memory.

One such item is sauerkraut balls. Sauerkraut is one of 'our' things in central PA, having been handed down by German ancestors. Anytime we can do something interesting with sauerkraut, I'm in. The idea of sauerkraut balls actually was put in my head by my dad a couple of years ago. He related a story to me about how great they were and told me bits and pieces of the ingredients. Basically a 'Cliffs Notes' version. After doing some research in old, local cookbooks, I came up with a Sheppard Mansion version. This isn't a 'play on' or 'deconstructed'. It's simply inspired by a classic PA Dutch dish. There's no cute, whimsical term for them either. They are simply 'sauerkraut balls'

So, what is a sauerkraut ball? It's basically a mix of ground Rettland Farms pork, sauerkraut, brown butter, sage, rye bread crumbs, and eggs. Once cool, the mix is rolled in bread crumbs and fried. The dipping sauce is a whole grain mustard cream and arugula adds a final sharp bite to bust through the fattiness. I gotta tell you, these are really good bites of New PA Dutch food. Book yourself a reservation and give'em a try. Yes, you can even giggle when you say 'balls' during your order.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Education Nation - Day 3 What Does Food Mean to You?

Food isn't just a convenience. It's not just something you 'grab'. The act of cooking can affect people in many different ways. For home cooks, cooking can be a calming influence at the end of a long day. It can also be a stressful event if you aren't comfortable over the stove(at The Sheppard Mansion, we're looking to make cooking less stressful and more FUN and REWARDING through our cooking classes and demonstrations at The Carriage House Market. Note that I said it would be FUN and REWARDING, not 'easy peasy' and done in 5 minutes with 90% store bought garbage.) For professional cooks, cooking is a way of life. You don't choose this life, it chooses you.

For Day 3 of Education Nation week, I decided to explore the question 'What does food mean to you'. I posed this question to Brent Golding, my sous chef and Michelle Leonard, my baker. I also pose the question to you. Please use the comment section of my blog to tell everyone what food means to you. There is no correct or incorrect answer. It's how you feel. What is of utmost importance is that we start a dialogue. Start talking about food.


P.S. As a reminder, free apples for all children who come to the Carriage House Market this week! Pass it along and lets start talking food!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Education Nation - Day 2 - How to make butter

Butter doesn't just show up magically on the shelves in the grocery store. I've posted a quick video below showing how we make butter from local Apple Valley cream in the kitchen. This butter makes its way on to the table during our tasting menus and is also used in the pastry kitchen as we're making our saturday morning favorite, pretzel croissants.(stop by the Carriage House Market any saturday and pick up a dozen or 2!)

This is also a fun exercise to do with your kids. As you can see, it really doesn't take any time at all and if you have access to amazing cream, it's a snap!

Grab the Wii remote out of your kid's hand, get in the kitchen and COOK!


P.S. Don't forget. Bring your child to the Carriage House Market any time this week for a free apple. Also don't forget to SPREAD THE WORD!!!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Education Nation

This morning I caught a little bit of TV before heading off to the garden and was inspired by some interviews and conversation regarding NBC's 'Education Nation'. If you don't know me well, you may not know that I am the son of two retired public school teachers; to say that they were 'public school teachers' is like describing Michael Jordan as a 'basketball player'. Needless to say, they were good.

Real good. I decided on another career path, but the desire to teach and help inspire kids is physically hard wired. So, after watching these conversations this morning, I immediately started to think 'what can I do'? Teachers, as much as they try, can't do it on their own. The education of our nation's youth is EVERYONE'S responsibility. Think it's not? You're wrong.

With inspiration in hand, I've decided to feature educational videos every day this week via my blog. This week we'll be talking about REAL FOOD. How to cook it. How to grow it. Who grows it. I want you to engage your children about food. REAL FOOD. Not chicken nuggets from the freezer section. Not frozen pizza. Here's the deal. Come to the Carriage House Market this week(wed-fri 10-6 sat. 8:30-4). Bring your child and we'll make sure that your son/daughter leaves with a free apple and perhaps a little bit of literature so that you can talk about local farms and the people who produce amazing products in your backyard.

So, I say again. Bring your kid; leave with a free apple courtesy of The Sheppard Mansion. No obligation. Come in, say hi, grab and apple and browse around. Or don't. Having your child take a big bite out of south central PA is really all we want......

Listen, we're bringing in A LOT of apples this week and I want to give them all away. Please tell your children's teachers about this.(what a wonderful field trip....walk over to the Carriage House Market and grab an apple....just sayin') Tell your friends. Tell your enemies, I don't care. What I do care about is putting local apples in kid's hands. Period.

Check out the video.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Yep, it's back again. Harvest Dinner 2011. So, what is it? Is it 'farm to table'? Sure, but even TGIFriday's claims to be 'farm to table' these days. Is it 'artisan'? Sure, but allegedly so is Olive Garden. Will it be as fresh as a Quizno's 'Farmer's Market Fresh Salad'? Well, no, it won't. It'll be fresher because our produce doesn't even hit the farmer's market. It goes from the ground to our back door. By the way, I've been to the Quizno's in Gettysburg and I HIGHLY DOUBT they are buying their salad greens at the Outlet Farmer's Market. Just sayin'.......

Hey, I've got an idea. Let's dispense with the overused buzzwords and terms that have been hijacked by corporate food America. Let's call it what it is: AWESOME. Food produced here and a cuisine inspired by the people and their dirt. The Pennsylvania Dutch call it Boddeg'schmack. Look it up.

Do you live in York and really dig the local food movement? This is where you need to be. Do you live in Gettysburg and think Beau Ramsburg is dreamy? This is where you need to be. Do you live in Northern Virginia and want to TASTE south central PA? This is where you need to be.

What: The Sheppard Mansion 2001 Harvest Dinner
When: October 9, 2011(yep, that's the sunday of columbus day weekend) 6PM
Where: The Sheppard Mansion
Why: Because you like great food, drink and conversation

Here's the menu:

Fried Rettland Farms cheddar/preserved tomato dipper
Little loaded baked potatoes
Brent Golding's hay smoked pork cap/green tomato chutney
Garden potatoes fried in lard

A Study in Dried Corn
pudding, soup, cracker, buttered bread sauce

Morgan had a little lamb...and we bought it at the 4H Sale
lamb ragu, brown butter egg noodles

'Pork and Sauerkraut'
Rettland Farms pork rillette, arugula, sauerkraut sauce

Sheppard Mansion Farms Beef
Fingerling potato puree, pine roasted carrots, mushrooms chips

Beet Funnel Cake
Brown Butter Ice Cream, licorice, turnip candy

Cookies and Candy
Whoopie Pies with white chocolate pepper jelly
Pretzel caramel filled chocolates
Carentais melon pate de fruit

As usual, we'll have some engaging speakers before and after each course. We'll also have our youngest speaker ever at a Harvest Dinner!

I really love this dinner because it's a chance for us to showcase some amazing products, but it is also a chance for me to say thank you to our amazing purveyors for yet another great growing season. It's a celebration, baby!

FYI....This is a ticketed event. $105 per person gets you all of that food, beverage pairings, tax, tip, conversation, etc. Tickets can be purchased by calling The Sheppard Mansion 717.633.8075

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Let's talk about beets, baby!

Beets. Either you love them or you hate them. I happen to love them, so we grow them in the Culinary Garden and sell them at the Carriage House Market. Here's the thing. I've heard a bunch of people tell me that they 'don't know what to do with beets' or they 'taste like dirt'. Well, folks I'm about to present you the opportunity of the early Fall.

I'll be setting up a little space in the Carriage House Market this Saturday at 1pm. Yeah, saturday's are busy days for us in the kitchen, but I want to get out to the Market and talk about beets. I'll talk about a few different cooking methods, canning/preserving methods and there will be FREE SAMPLES. Also, if you mention this blog post, I'll give you a little handful of beets to take home and experiment with. That's right. FREE BEETS.

So, if you're a beet lover, don't miss this little demonstration. However, if you're a dyed in the wool beet hater, I WANT YOU AT THIS DEMO. I'm gonna turn you into a beet lover. Period.

Here's the DEETS.

Who: Me and you, silly
What: An amazing cooking demo featuring Sheppard Mansion culinary garden beets
Where: The Carriage House Market
How much: IT'S FREE!!!
How long: It'll last about 45 minutes, I do have to get back inside for dinner you know!

Don't forget, mention this blog post and walk away with a handful of beets to cook at home. Also, there will be 'just dug' beets available for sale in the Market. Think we don't have enough? Go ahead and try to sell us out.

Oh, also for you readers who read all the way to the end of the post. Tell your friends. If we get more than 25 people total in attendance, I'll give everyone a free slice of chocolate cake with peanut butter icing. Seriously. Tell your friends....Bring a group. Jason Konopinski I'm talking to you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

This Week's Tasting Menu

Hot off the printer folks. YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS THIS. Will the 'meat doughnut' be part of the snacks? I guess you'll just have to make a reservation and see......

August 31, 2011



Sheppard Mansion Scrapple
Fig, lovage, licorice


Sheppard mansion Heirloom Tomato
Grilled bread, onion, cucumber, balsamic vinaigrette


Pennsylvania Trout
‘pork and beans’, maple gastrique


Creamed corn, summer sausage, mushrooms

‘Chicken and Waffles’
crispy chicken liver, oyster mushrooms, pea shoots


BBQ Rabbit
Leek, pickled mushrooms, cornbread


Sheppard Mansion Farms Beef Tongue
Sweet corn pudding, garden tomato, basil vinaigrette


soft pretzel, smoked sauerkraut, apple butter vinaigrette


Seckel Pear Dumpling
Butterbourbon cream


cookies and candy

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

You say tomato, I say.....TASTING MENU

You guessed it. This week, next week's, the following week's tastings are going to be 100% inspired by Culinary Garden tomatoes. Want some teasers?

Tomato tarte tatin, lemon verbena ice cream, red wine caramel

Tomato sorbet, crispy cheese curds

Scrapple, sweet corn, local mushrooms, tomato vinaigrette

BLT. yeah, it's a BLT, but not like any BLT you've had before.

Here's some pics....It's gonna be epic, you don't want to miss these celebrations of our garden's amazing tomatoes. reservations are filling fast....get a spot while the tomatoes last!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Preach it, Alton

What does foam do? Cover up bad cooking, by and large.

Show me you can cook a carrot properly. Show me you can cook a carrot perfectly 100 times....then we'll talk about the little white powders.

David Chang has taken to the Twitterverse criticizing the Alton Brown video above. So, I thought perhaps an explanation was in order. First, everyone should know that I have the greatest respect for Chang and love his restaurants....LOVE his restaurants.

Here's my problem: I don't understand why practitioners of modernist cuisine are so insecure. There is very little to argue in Brown's points.(with the notable exception of 'it's not food') Yes, it is imperative to have a cook who can reproduce a perfectly executed chicken breast 100 times. Yes, it is imperative to great cuisine to have cooks who can execute a perfectly cooked carrot 100 times. And above all, it is imperative to have cooks who know how to properly use salt. Are too many 'wet behind the ears' cooks straight out of culinary school too interested in 'meat glue' and not interested enough in how to light the pilot on the oven,the best way to pit a cherry or the proper time to pick beans? Yes. His point that foams generally cover up bad basic cooking is also, in my experience, very true. In the wrong hands is spherification a bad idea? Yes. Is it over done? Yes, in the same manner that bacon cupcakes were never a good idea. Chang himself just tweeted last week that 'Cooks today not as skilled as past generations, labor laws too stringent, not a bad thing but certainly the demise of dining in general' I've got to think he's referring to the 'basics' not their ability to use methylcellulose.

In the end, Alton Brown isn't blazing any trails with his comments. It's been said before, but I can't agree with Chang that he's 'mostly wrong', because he's not.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Cantloupe meet Cucumber

Cucumbers are bursting, bursting, bursting in our Culinary Garden. In addition to incredible half sour pickles that will be available for purchase at The Carriage House Market, we're bringing these amazingly flavorful cukes into the restaurant.

This salad starts with cucumber and local cantaloupe. Both take a ride in the vacuum sealer and are then lightly dressed with olive oil, vinegar and maldon sea salt. Cucumbers are also pureed with a touch of sour cream, cumin and coriander to make a smooth sauce. Crab hushpuppies(yes, I said crab hushpuppies. Moist little fried balls, filled with crab and a touch of Old Bay. You're welcome) provide a neat little garnish while cilantro and mint finish the dish off. This is a super fun summer dish utilizing what seriously are some amazing garden cucumbers.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Scenes from the garden - June 29, 2011

Pics, pics, pics..... Make sure you scroll the whole way to the end....the tasting menu might be listed.

If there is a nicer, more vibrant garden, I haven't seen it. This is amazing stuff folks. Period.

I'm really excited about this's really inspired cooking. Check it out.


June 30, 2011



Sheppard Mansion Scrapple
Cherry, sorrel, peas, olive oil


The Sheppard Mansion Garden
Vegetables, lettuces, and flowers picked from our gardens


Sweet pepper confit, garden peas, torn bread, chow chow vinaigrette


Chesapeake Bay Puffer Fish
Cherries, corn, peas, lovage, fava beans


Rettland Farms Pork
Tarragon gnocchi, peas, birch


Rettland Farms Chicken
Waffle, peach, maple, sherry


Calotte of Beef
Porcini mushroom, foie gras ‘slaw’, bordelaise


‘Cheese Sticks’
black truffle coated cheddar cheese curds, Chow chow vinaigrette


‘York Street Treat’
Black raspberry, pretzel, lemon thyme ice cream


cookies and candy

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rabbit....and things rabbits eat's a fun dish. Could have easily been called 'circle of life'.

Here's the inspiration:

I like gardening. I hate things that invade my garden and eat my produce. Rabbits are a frequent visitor to gardens all over this area. about a dish using our garden produce, flowers, and lettuces(the things rabbits like to eat) and also including a bit of BBQ rabbit loin because I like to eat rabbits.

This is the point in the post where I have to say if you're squeamish about eating rabbit click away from this post and go check out You don't want to read this and frankly, I don't want you reading it.

Rabbit is delicious. It does not taste like chicken. It tastes like rabbit. Delicious rabbit.

The real star of the show here is the vegetables. The base of the dish is a carrot butter. Followed up by an array of vegetables. Here's a shot of the mise en place.

The rabbit loin is cooked sous vide, marked on the grill and glazed with bbq sauce before plating. The veg are simply warmed in beurre monte before plating.

The showcasing of the vegetables is very important to me. You might look at a plate like these and think 'what's the point of all those leaves and little vegetables?' Well, the point is that every component on the dish either holds hands with the others or provides a boost to another ingredient. Take salad burnet for example. It may just look like something I pulled from the herb garden to make an interesting plate and while it does add a visual appeal, it also acts as a bridge between the carrot puree and the snap peas. Another example is the caramelized onions. Sweet on their own, they provide an additional sweetness to the baby beets and create a bridge between the lemon verbena and the beets allowing the beets to have more impact by the addition of a citrus note. So, yeah, a little bit of thought goes into these dishes.

Speaking of dishes....the plates are very important, too. These plates are made by a great friend of the restaurant, Terry Tessem and really fill out my message of 'Eat Like You Live Here'. Not only is the food sourced locally, the inspiration for the dish is local, but the very plate you're eating it on was produced a few miles from the restaurant. It is a TRUE taste of the area!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Philly gets the Scrapple treatment

I was lucky enough to bring my own version of scrapple to the viewers of NBC10 in Philadelphia today. I had a blast and I think I've turned a few people over from the 'scrapple dark side'. SCRAPPLE AGAINST THE WORLD! Check it out.

View more videos at:

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Scenes from a tasting menu....

....I visited the Culinary Garden this morning and picked some amazing little broccoli. Not a whole lot to say about this dish other than it was inspired by this AM trip to where we grow our food!

Scallop, pine nut sauce, Sheppard Mansion Garden broccoli, sherry vinegar, peanut brittle

The garden is really starting to POP right now and our own produce will start inspiring our Tasting Menus.....Do yourself a favor and tuck into one of these menus. There is simply NO BETTER WAY to experience The Sheppard Mansion Experience. R U experienced?

Friday, May 27, 2011


Yep, Summer has started. After what felt like months of continuous rain, the skies have cleared and we're smack in the middle of some pretty hot summer weather. Everybody likes to spend summer on their patio, right? Everybody likes smokin' acoustic music, right? What if you could combine the relaxed environment of a backyard patio, some sweet music AND some amazing food? What if you could do it all at The Sheppard Mansion? YOU CAN.

Starting Friday June 3rd and continuing every friday through the Summer, we'll be providing entertainment on our patio from 6-9pm....AND central PA's most amazing drinks, wine and beer.....AND....oh, yeah....THERE WILL BE FOOD. Our full a la carte menu will be available starting at 5pm. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE. There will be a SPECIAL PATIO MENU, only available on friday nights, only available on the patio. Seating is limited and there are no reservations. First come, first served. I would suggest setting up a tent and camping out if you want to get a seat because this is GONNA BE HOT!

Not to worry if you were planning a special occasion, hoping to dig into one of our tasting menus or simply want to dine inside on a friday....the Dining Room will be open, too!

So, since everybody likes a good tease, the patio menu is listed below. Better get a paper towel or two, because this menu's gonna make you drool.....

‘Sheppard Snackers’

barbequed pork belly sandwiches, Housemade Pickles

Fried Oyster Po’ boys

Lettuce, chow chow vinaigrette

crab dip+bread bowl= ☺

Sheppard Mansion Farms Beef Flatbread

Caramelized onion, horseradish, cheddar, arugula

Green Tomato Gazapcho

Garden herbs, shrimp

‘Chips and Dip’

A basket of fresh fried potato chips and black truffle crème fraiche

‘Bologna and Cheese’

cured meats, cheese, pickles, mustard, bread

Clams Casino Bites

Crispy collard greens, lemon cayenne mayo

Pennslytucky Poutine

Fries, cheese curd, smoked chicken, truffle gravy

A six pack of Natty Boh for the Kitchen

Show the kitchen some love……

OK, two things. 1)Yes, you read that last item correctly. You'll have the distinct opportunity to buy the hard workin' kitchen crew a six pack of the finest beer available in the land of pleasant living. Show us some love, folks. 2) There will also be a 'secret' menu available on the patio.....I'm gonna let you in on the secret. We're cool, right? OK. Two items that won't be listed on the printed menu, BUT will be available to those people 'in the know'. Let's keep this just between us, ok?


The Dutch Dog

A bacon wrapped, deep fried hot dog, topped with truffled sauerkraut, mustard and served on a pretzel hot dog bun

The Big Boy

A short rib and marrow stuffed Sheppard Mansion Farms cheeseburger served with the most amazing fries you've ever tasted. Period.

The 717 Sundae

Salted Pretzel Ice cream, caramel popcorn, malt, dark chocolate

These secret menu items will be a little more expensive than the regular patio options, but will be 100% worth every penny. Truffled sauerkraut? Good Morning.

So, there it is folks. Take every friday off for the rest of the summer(tell your boss I said it was cool), dust your tent off and camp out for a seat. YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS THIS!!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Culinary Garden Update



Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pretzel Croissant

Do you like fun? Well then, boy do I have something to shove in your pie hole!

We have this little thing called a pretzel roll that we serve as part of our bread service and we sell it in the Carriage House Market. I think it's a good little roll. I also happen to really like a dark, flaky, buttery croissant. They're VERY hard to find....usually you find pale, barely baked and soft croissants with NO flavor. Yippee!!

Ever wonder what happens when a pretzel roll has a couple 40's of Natty Boh and makes eye contact with a croissant who has had a few too many wine coolers? Well, first a lot of sweaty dough bumping happens and then the pretzel croissant happens. Simple as that. Not much else to say here other than they are available only on Saturday(still warm from the oven at 8:30am) and only at The Carriage House Market in Hanover, PA.

Go ahead.....treat yourself and 10 of your closest friends. These beauties sell out quickly, so I'd recommend calling The Market and reserving a dozen or 3. Local IS Luxury!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Culinary Gardens - Soil Preparation

I'm excited. Yesterday, we were able to get our hands dirty digging in the dirt. Did we plant anything you might ask? Nope. We spent the day simply on soil preparation. Removing clumps of grass from the expanded portion of our garden and taking out what seems like a never ending amount of rocks and stones from the soil. We were also able to dump the last of our kitchen compost on to the soil. OK, now that i've given you the garden update, let me tell you what I'm excited about....(as if that wasn't enough)

If you read closely, you'll notice my continued use of 'we' not 'i' or 'my dad and i'. Sunday was a really special day at the Garden because the whole Sheppard Mansion team took part in what amounts to serious grunt work. That's right. The whole team. Cooks, dishwasher(yes, dishwasher), baker, waiter, and store clerk all took part in getting the soil ready for what I know is going to be an AMAZING season for us in the garden.

Here's a short little video to update you on our garden progress....does anyone else think that rich, Spring dirt is sexy? Maybe it's just me...

If you follow my blog(if not, read some other posts, they're good for your health), you'll know that I'm a little frustrated with the over use of the term 'farm to table'. Suddenly every restaurant that buys food from a farm is calling themselves 'farm to table'. Congrats. Listen, I use WebMD, that doesn't make me a doctor. If you have a farm connected to your restaurant, you're 'farm to table'(hello, Chris Edwards and Patowmack Farm, wassup?)....if you don't, you're simply sourcing good ingredients.(small caveat...growing your own herbs, while a great idea, doesn't qualify either) Simple as that. If your cooks, waiters, clerks, bakers and dishwashers help in the garden you're, well, let's think of a term....SHEPPARD MANSION.

It MEANS something to work with produce that you've grown. It MEANS something to eat at a restaurant where the staff has worked in the fields to bring you the most amazing produce. Think about that the next time you tuck into a bloomin' onion. Here are some words from Sheppard Mansion Sous Chef Brent Golding on the importance of working in the garden.

Certainly, there is a realization that we can't grow produce for ourselves year round. That's when our brilliant group of local farmers comes into play and quality sourcing is key. We also don't grow everything under the sun. However, when we can grow it, we are. It is difficult to describe how working in the dirt to raise produce informs your cooking. The very best way to get it across is for you to come eat the food.(maybe it would help to take a walking tour of the Culinary Gardens....anybody interested?) Taste carrots again for the first time. Taste leeks, beets(yes, beets), snap peas again for the first time. It's gonna be an amazing grooking(that's my new word....growing and cooking) season in the 717. Have you make your reservations yet?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Sheppard Mansion - The Herb Garden - Seeding Radish

Okey Dokey.....We're still cleaning up and preparing the culinary garden, but today was a perfect day for seeding some radishes in our herb garden. The video pretty much says it feels great to put my hands in the almost warm soil and get the season started.

The radishes are seeded in the area where we grow basil during the summer. Right now, it's a little too cold for the basil and by the time the weather warms up, the radishes will be out of the ground and ready for summer herbs.

Don't forget....the best place to grab the very same seeds we're using on the property is The Carriage House Market AND the best place to learn about working a home garden is THE CARRIAGE HOUSE MARKET!!!!

ON April 30th at 2pm, I'll be sharing a presentation with our head culinary gardener, Jim Little. We'll cover topics ranging from starting your home garden to cooking the produced picked from your garden. I know what you're thinking....'hey, how much does it cost?' Here's your answer.....FREE. Come, hang out, talk about gardening and food, have a few snacks plucked from our gardens and take a guided tour of the on-site gardens.

It's a beautiful time to be outside and thinking about Spring!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sheppard Mansion: The Experience

The tasting menu. This, like many great ideas, has been taken hostage by any and all halfway restaurants in tourist towns across the USA....kind of like 'farm to table' or 'artisanal'. Both culinary concepts are great in theory, but when restaurants are offering 'tasting menus' that are really three course prix fixe menus and saying they're 'farm to table' when all they're actually buying from a local farmer is salad greens every now and then....well, to me, something is lost. Something serious.

At the Sheppard Mansion, we still offer what we, for now, are calling a 'tasting menu' every day that we're open. I've titled this post 'The Experience' because that's what you get when you order this menu. It's not 100% about the food. Believe me, the food plays a big part in it, but it's about the service(yes, your waiter most likely helped plant some of the veg on your plate and can explain in great deal every step of the process). It's about the pace and a sense of place. It's about the wine and taking time. You see, we're not just slapping some shit on a plate and calling it a 'tasting'. Alot of thought has gone into not only the flow of the menu, but the wine pairings, the handmade salted short, the details. It's the very best we can do. Period.

Listen, if you want to come in to the restaurant and get a plate of food, we do that....but that's kind of like listening to Stairway to Heaven and not listening to the whole album(you do realize 'when the levee breaks' is on that album, right?) If you're a 'greatest hits' kind of person, that's cool. I like the 'deep cuts', this is my blog and I'm gonna talk about 'em. Nanny, nanny boo boo.

Here's one thing you can expect if you are 'experienced'. We call it 'the chippy egg'.

Minutes after you select this menu(good choice, BTW) you'll receive a glass of bubbles(if you've selected the beverage pairing....if so, good choice again, folks) and a number of snacks. These set the tone for the rest of the evening and give you a little glimpse of what you're in for.... Because these first bites are so important for setting the tone, I really wanted show 'who we are' and allow the waiter a little bit of time in explaining the dish to begin the 'show'. The 'chippy egg' is the answer.

The explanation of this dish at its simplest is this: A bag of fresh fried potato chips, egg custards topped with a ragout of truffled pigs feet.(not pictured because the egg custards looked SO COOL)

Here's the long version: 1) THE CHIPS: Hanover is the SNACK FOOD CAPITAL OF THE WORLD, damn it. So, it's who we are. The chips arrive in a little brown paper bag stamped with either 'Eat like you live here' or 'Local is Luxury','s who we are.

2) THE EGG: We stand on the shoulders of innovative farmers to create a sense of place with our food. That food is rooted in the dirt of our area and one of my favorite rock star farmers is Beau Ramsburg of Rettland Farms. His eggs get the lead singer treatment here, via a savory custard served nestled in a bed of hay.

3) THE TRUFFLED PIGS FEET: Ummm, because they're delicious and Ramsburg raises pigs better than anyone on Earth. Duh, winning.

4) THE SERVING VESSEL: the stoneware your first bites arrive in was created by local potter and general cool ass guy, Terry Tessem. Yeah, even the plate your first bite is served in is local. EAT LIKE YOU LIVE HERE..... Oh yeah, of course the hay is local. We're not at 56th and 5th, you know.

So, there you go. All of that went into the first few bites you'll take during THE EXPERIENCE. Sure, it's a lot of small courses. Yes, it takes about two and a half hours and yes, it's the very best we can do. So, let me ask you: Are you experienced?

Monday, February 28, 2011

1st Annual SodBusters Dinner

We're starting a new tradition on The Sheppard Mansion property this year. In past years, we've had a bunch of fun putting together our end of season Harvest Dinner, so we thought it would be appropriate to have a sister event at the beginning of the season to celebrate being able to get our hands dirty digging in the dirt. You read that correctly. We're throwing a big party to celebrate our ability to get back into the dirt and prepare our ground for planting.(or is it just an excuse to have a party???? You be the judge...)

Here are the DEETS: We're shaking things up and putting tables in The Carriage House Market. You read that correctly. This dinner/blowout extravaganza will take place in The Carriage House Market. Tunes will be crankin', food will be served family style, and wine will be flowing!

MENU: The food will all be 'garden inspired'...Fried Rettland Farms Chicken, Sheppard Mansion Farms grilled beef, truffled deviled eggs, potato salad, Samuel Martin's salad greens with chow chow vinaigrette, and yes.....there will be whoopie pies for dessert.



Seating is limited and you don't want to miss this. Reservations can me made by calling The Carriage House Market or The Sheppard Mansion 717.633.8075.

Hey, there might even be a celebratory busting of a mason jar of sod.....who knows?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Beauty of Disagreement

This comment was posted to my last entry by and anonymous writer:

'I was born and raised in Lancaster, but had the good fortune to be schooled in New Orleans. Although I am the first one to stand up for many things South Central PA; I am also the first to acknowledge that our PA Swiss/German cuisene is no match for the Spanish/French/Creole/Cajun flavours that South Central LA is famous for. I think what you are doing is wonderful, but our culture is what it is and as my grandfather said..."wishing won't make it so." '

I've thought of a number of ways to respond to this comment and have settled on addressing it in a full post.

There are a number of ideas that jump to my mind with regards to this comment. First and foremost is that you can't simply say 'we're better' without something to back it up. That's like the team that wags their finger saying 'we're #1' without putting on their pads and stepping on the field of play. Louisiana has beignets, PA has faschnauts. New Orleans has King Cake and PA has shoo fly pie. LA has jambalaya and PA has slippery pot pie. Both areas have a rich history and heritage with regards to charcuterie and using every bit of the animal.....and so on.....I could do this all day.

The part of this post that I actually wanted to address is the idea that 'our culture is what it is and wishing won't make it so'. I was born and raised in central PA and have CHOSEN to come back to this area to do what I love to do and celebrate the flavors of my area. I appreciate how diverse our American food culture is and especially appreciate those who work tirelessly to represent the individual flavors and culture of their respective areas. I think it is unfortunate that the person who posted this comment doesn't feel the same way about where they were born and raised, and quite frankly doesn't stand behind the flavors of south central LA enough to post their name along with their words. I'm not 'wishing' for anything with regards to MY culture. It stands proudly on its on, just like the foods of the American Southwest, the Pacific Northwest, New England and Louisiana. I don't need to think that any one is any better than the other. They are all special in their own way and we should be proud to live in a country where such a diverse food culture is represented.

I have to be honest here: I'm pissed off. I'm pissed off that somebody's picking on the area that I love. However, I'd like to thank you, anonymous poster. Your post has made me take the time to sit down and write this response. Your post has stoked an already raging fire in my belly and now I'm going to work even harder to make sure that people can be exposed to the flavors that I love. The flavors of my childhood. Listen, I'm not 'wishing it'.....I'm DOING IT.

Friday, February 04, 2011

New Pennsylvania Dutch

Yeah, you read that correctly. New. Pennsylvania. Dutch. Classy, huh?

Here's the thing: I've been talking to a lot of people lately and a common question that comes up is 'what kind of food do you cook'? While 'new american' is a popular catch all term, it doesn't really say much or create much anticipation or differentiation. After some serious thought, we all settled on 'New Pennsylvania Dutch'. Why? Here's your answer.

I'm a south central PA boy, working with growers and producers who are proudly from south central PA, cooking food inspired by south central PA. So......why try and be anything other than south central PA? It informs the way the menu is written and honestly, it informs the way we cook. The chocolate chewy caramels that you get with your check? My great aunt's recipe. The corn fritters we serve in summer? Another family gem. The fact that we churn our own butter? Yep, my family was in the dairy business in Hanover for many years. You see, you can take the boy out of Dutchy-land, but you can't take the Dutchy out of the boy, awhile.

I've cooked in many different locations, traveled throughout Europe and happily call Hanover, PA my home. I've gathered much from my work experiences and travel, but when you get right down to it, I'm inspired on a daily basis simply by walking out my front door. Many chefs hop a plane and go to France, Vietnam or Italy for their inspiration. I hop on my bike and ride out to my garden or take a quick trip to the apple orchards in Adams County.

When most people think of PA Dutch foods, one of the first things to pop into their head is buffets filled to the hilt with food. While the Lancaster area has popularized this idea, PA Dutch food is actually a very nuanced cuisine and is done a little bit of disservice by the perception that it is simply mountains of hearty 'farmer food'. As a cuisine, it has as rich a background as the foods of New England, New Orleans or the American Southwest. I'm exploring those flavor profiles. The tastes that bring back memories of my childhood and hopefully the childhood's of folks from the area. If you're traveling to the area, I want to give you a taste of the area. You see, I'm crazy proud of this area. If you're coming here from out of town, I want to give you an expression of the area. I actually think of this restaurant as a love letter to south central PA because it is.

So, what can you expect from a restaurant that calls its cuisine 'New Pennsylvania Dutch'? Well, why don't you let me let the photographs below lead really have to taste it to know it!

GREEN, EGGS AND HAM - Asparagus, country ham, caviar, brown butter mayonnaise




That's just a little taste. We're always batting around ideas about how to best express the area that we love so much. Who knows what familiar flavor profile we'll unlock next....I suppose the only way to figure that one out is to make a reservation....

How about everybody give their Dutchy a little work out....anyone familiar with this gem? My grandfather used to say it....

'Heile heile hinkle drecht bis morgen früh und alles recht'

Here's to asparagus wishes and warm sun dreams!!!