The New Chef at Crabtree’s Kittle House Is Crafting Wow-Worthy Dishes
Beau Widener keeps the commitment to farm-to-table strong at the Chappaqua restaurant.
Guinea hen with autumn vegetable hash
Photos courtesy of Crabtree’s Kittle House
Since becoming chef of Crabtree’s Kittle House in Chappaqua this summer, Beau Widener has been using his love and knowledge of the Hudson Valley to continue the restaurant’s commitment to farm-to-table dining.
“The Hudson Valley is the epicenter of the farm-to-table movement, and we will continue to focus on sustainability and seasonality in our menus,” Widener says. A Culinary Institute of America graduate, Widener fell in love with the Valley when he moved here from Florida. “The first time I really learned what a tomato tasted like was when I had one from a farm,” he recalls, adding that quality ingredients are the fundamentals of any good dish.
After graduating, a stint at Woodstock Inn & Resort in Vermont reinforced Widener’s desire to build relationships with local farmers. Returning to New York, he joined Westchester’s ERL Hospitality Group (Tomatillo, Sweet Grass Grill, Red Zebra, Grass Roots Kitchen) as director of culinary operations. When an opportunity came along at Kittle House, Widener was well aware of the restaurant’s reputation for supporting farmers. “The bridge between a chef and a farmer is very important,” he says. “John [Crabtree] was one of the forefathers of the farm-to-table concept before there was a term for it.”
Fried squash blossom with vegetables and plants from the Kittle House gardens
Widener describes his cooking style as “simple and clean, but refined,” with an emphasis on letting the flavor of the ingredients come through. Dishes like Hudson Valley duck breast with foraged hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, grilled stone fruit, braised red cabbage, and butternut squash emulsion, which was on the menu earlier this fall, play to the area’s seasonal bounty. “Part of my passion is promoting what’s readily available to us,” says Widener. “I can make mole sauce by sourcing peppers here and drying them ourselves.”
Shrimp with coconut milk, lime, chiles, and tomatillo
He’s also embracing superfoods with the addition of more healthful dishes like organic salmon with watercress and amaranth. (I can attest it was delicious.) A new “Eating Clean in 2018” lunch menu features such items as a tofu taco bowl and various avocado toasts. (Not to fear, you can still follow those virtuous dishes with some of Kittle House’s phenomenal desserts, including pecan pie and the Kittle Kat bar.)
Fresh crab with avocado and sweet corn
Looking forward, Widener hopes to extend the nose-to-tail concept to seafood. A special of halibut collar is indicative of the cuts he wants to serve, and normally discarded bones are used to make fish stock. “As chefs we have a responsibility for what we’re serving,” Widener stresses.
Crabtree’s Kittle House
11 Kittle Rd
Curious for more insight into everything from weddings and local business happenings to golf and hearty Westchester eating? Surf through all of our daily blogs.