Throughout the U.S., chefs and restaurants alike are frequently using Marcoot Jersey Creamery’s products in order to prepare mouth-watering and delectable dishes. Now, to show our gratitude for all of their business, we’re introducing the Marcoot Chef Spotlight! Our first feature involves an interactive Q & A with Chef Kevin Willmann from Farmhaus.
Could you tell us a little bit about Farmhaus?
Farmhaus is a small farm-to-table restaurant that my wife Jessica and I opened in 2010. We’re now in our 10th year and purchase nearly all of our ingredients from local farms and producers like Marcoot to create unique and delicious menus and tasting menus.
Why did you decide to become a chef?
The anchor in my early youth was my grandmother, Jan. She cooked constantly and all of my family did a lot of preserving and canning during various harvests. The older generation of women in my family were still connected to harder times when this was imperative for prosperity. That really stuck with me. I felt like I found a home for those memories too, when I started to express myself as a chef. I grew up around farming, but it was the vegetable gardens and the women that nourished us through them that would become the “backstop” to Farmhaus.
Are there other chefs out there who you admire the most?
I really respect and look up to Thomas Keller and Frank Stitt. Both have influenced me heavily as have Paul Virant and Alice Waters. I also have a lot of respect for my contemporaries including Stephanie Izard and Nate Sears.
What is your favorite cuisine to eat?
Vietnamese and Thai cuisines are the ones I can never get enough of, but I like nearly everything.
What is your favorite cuisine to cook?
I really enjoy BBQ right now. BBQ speaks to something that has been engrained in us for ages. I think it has a special power to bring people together and I love the general simplicity of it. Not that good BBQ is simple, but the ingredients often are. I also LOVE cooking great seafood. Simple, hot fire, fresh. That’s where my heart is right this second.
How do you use Marcoot cheese/other Marcoot products in your restaurant?
We have featured Marcoot’s awesome cheeses (aged gouda and alpine are my favorites here) on our butcher board since the beginning. Also, since we really don’t have Parmesan near us, I lean on the harder cave-aged tomme as our workhorse grating cheese. It’s delicious over pasta and we garnish nearly all of our homemade pastas with it or alpine. I think it is possibly their most complex cheese and I swear I can taste my youth in there… the grasses the Jersey Cattle graze on are the same that my great grandfather’s dairy cattle ate when I was a kid. We would sip raw milk straight from the tank growing up. I love the mozzarella, scamorza, and the quark. I think they really have the mozzarella nailed so much that I don’t buy the curds to stretch myself anymore. Quark is very versatile and finds its way into our desserts often in similar ways we would think to use ricotta.
Why is it important to you to use local ingredients in your dishes?
It’s the connection I get to have to the people that grow, raise, and produce our food. They are the most hard-working folks I know, Amy, Beth, and Audie (my cousin!) included. I am far more accountable for using their ingredients to the best of my abilities, because I represent them too. I love sharing our region through food. We have such diverse bounty here and it should be celebrated.
Farmhaus loves the Marcoot Jersey Creamery and we love them! If this blog made you crave our cheeses, make a reservation at Farmhaus or find us in our Country Store, Schnucks, and Dierbergs Market! Extreme Ice is also available in our Country Store and Dierbergs Market. Don’t miss out on a delicious, healthy treat made from fresh whey and mixed with crushed fruit.