By Emily Pickelson
12:05 PM EDT, March 22, 2013
Tell us about Millwrights please?
We opened eight months ago. This building was built in 1680, and a restaurant was built inside of it at 1980. It has a lot of soul. We have a dining room overlooking the mill and waterfall. Downstairs is a very casual tavern with a fireplace. Upstairs in the loft, we have a demo kitchen and private dining room, where myself, Brent Bushong II the Maitre D and Sommelier, and Chef de Cuisine Luke Brennan put together an ever changing menu of 7, 8, or 9 courses paired with wine. We serve very product driven, “inspired New England” cuisine.
What is farm to table – truly?
It’s a vague term, and unfortunately – somewhat of a bad term as it has become a marketing word. Because all food comes from a farm at some point, it has a potential to be abused. We are all about local dining. Chefs are, by nature, controlling – we like to know and control the product. That’s the joy of working with local farms.
Tell us about the farms you work with?
Eloise at Geo-roots in Canton is a pleasure work with. We crop planned with her, and she has produced many small, specific, and dainty vegetables for us. I now have a house on a farm and we will be doing planting soon. Seeing the food grow, growing it, and serving it, is well in keeping with the tradition of this building.
How do you take rustic food and create ‘haute cuisine?’
It’s comfort food at its best – we don’t want to build on ego and we do like to package things in small portions in order to keep them healthier.
You won Chopped in 2009 – congratulations. How did that shape you as a chef?
It was great, because I got money, and exposure, as so many people see you on TV. While it was going on I was just focused on the cooking. In hindsight, it’s completely nerve-wracking, as so many people watched the show! It definitely is not how we cook here in the kitchen. We’d rather let the product dictate the menu than have the menu dictate the product.
What’s coming up this summer?
In keeping with New England tradition, we will be canning! I am very excited for that. Last year we weren’t quite set up to do so. So the focus for spring, summer, and early fall will be to preserve and create a new flavor palate, with lots of farm opportunities. Right now, I’m also looking forward to peas and wild rams coming into season. In late fall and winter, we brighten up the food with vinegars – in summer, we can let the fruits and vegetables speak for themselves.
Tell us about your cocktails?
First off, we have a great, affordable wine selection. 90% of the bottles that Brent chooses are under $100, which is very unusual for our type of restaurant. It’s up to us to educate our guests on affordable and interesting choices that they may not be familiar with. For our cocktails, we work from scratch to create and utilize the best product. Juices are huge – we use lots of fresh infusions, and bitters. Our downstairs bar staff can get a little crazy coming up with drink combinations. It’s very craft driven. If you come in, don’t be afraid to ask us for a specific cocktail. Ditto for beers – we might not have the beer you drink (especially if you drink Bud Light), but we will work with you to find something that you like.
Any plans to partner with local wineries, such as Rosedale?
Oh yes. Rosedale is a great place – great friends of ours. We plan on growing and fostering these local relationships – not just with the wineries but with the craft breweries and distilleries as well. More of that to come in the future, for sure.
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