Fresh and local

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Apr 17, 2013 - 02:33 PM

Photo: Chef Eric Garcia believes in cooking and eating with the seasons, from the garden, to the kitchen, to the dinner table. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

Chef Eric Garcia believes in cooking and eating with the seasons, from the garden, to the kitchen, to the dinner table. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

Photo: Chicken Breast Stuffed with Spinach and Goat Cheese

Chicken Breast Stuffed with Spinach and Goat Cheese

"Eat the seasons": it’s a philosophy that Eric Garcia, executive chef at The Inn at Warner Hall, not only believes but puts into action as he carries out his profession daily at this historic Gloucester County site.

A native of Ohio whose family spent summer vacations at Virginia Beach, Eric says, "I fell in love with Virginia and decided that’s where I wanted to live." His career as chef, just like many successful chefs, began at a young age doing dishes. "Once I got out of the dishwashing section and into food and cooking, I soon learned it was something I loved to do. Then I went on to Hyde Park and received my associate degree from the Culinary Institute of America."

From working at the Williamsburg Inn, Eric moved to The Inn at Warner Hall in 2003. "I found it by chance and knew working here would just fit me better." And it is here on the same grounds where the first house stood in 1674 that Eric and the owners, Theresa and Troy Stavens, work together bringing to the tables the freshest possible vegetables and herbs. They have their own gardens. But it doesn’t stop there. Of course one always thinks of fresh seafood when in this area; however, Eric goes way beyond fresh seafood. "We buy and use all fresh products and buy as many locally as we can."

Eric and Theresa adjust the menus according to what’s in season. "We’ll soon have fresh asparagus from Mathews and we always have fresh chickens and eggs from Gloucester producers. We make our own pastas."

Eric gives the guests at Warner Hall a special treat when he holds Chef’s Table events. "Guests come into the kitchen, get involved with the making and cooking of the meal they will have for the night. They help create their own dinner." Eric believes in using recipes that encourage people "to enjoy and have fun with cooking." He even shares professional secrets like, "before slicing your cooked meats let them rest. If you do, you will find the meat much more moist. When sliced hot, all juices immediately run out."