Whenever I’ve mentioned Blackberry Farm to a lucky someone who has visited this intimate resort tucked away in the foothills of Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, the first thing they rave about is the food. Known for its gourmet Foothills Cousine®, it’s no wonder Blackberry Farm has been voted the #1 Hotel for Food Lovers by Bon Appetit, thanks in part to its two-time James Beard Award-winning restaurant, The Barn at Blackberry Farm. Blending the latest techniques with local favorites, the renowned cuisine at the resort comes together like a work of art where masters in their trade work together to compose a symphony of flavor. One of the conductors of this masterpiece is Corporate Chef Josh Feathers, who’s eye for detail, taste for Southern cuisine, and training from across the globe places him in the spotlight as this month’s Top Resort Chef.
Chef Josh Feathers’ culinary career has a unique beginning. “My career cooking literally started in the Navy, which is different from a lot of other chefs,” he shared. “I was supposed to go in as a Search and Rescue Swimmer. I was disqualified for medical reasons and so I became a Navy cook. The basic skills were fairly easy for me to pick up, and I have been lucky enough to have great teachers throughout my career.” Those teachers included the Commander in Chief of Southern Forces in Europe for whom he was sous chef. During this time in Italy, Chef Feathers found his true passion for food, a passion that lead him to his current position at Blackberry Farm where he oversees the operations in the preservation kitchen, cheese room and butcher shop, as well as the Main House Dining Rooms, creating the breakfast and lunch menus for guests.
Chef Feathers knows that a fabulous meal starts at the farm. “It is great to see that most chefs are highlighting the farms that their food is coming from and it really seems that farmers have bought in to growing unique items for specific restaurants, which is creating great relationships between farmers and chefs. Chefs have certainly seen their time as rock stars but just go to any farmers market and look at the long lines at certain stalls and that is where the music really begins. Those guys are the real stars.”
If you want a taste of Chef Josh Feathers’ renowned cuisine he’s shared his recipe for Cornbread Romesco, perfect as a marinade for grilled or poached proteins, a dip for vegetables, and even a spread on crackers.
What you’ll need:
3 large tomatoes, quartered
3 shallots, peeled, sliced, and roasted with the tomatoes in the same pan
3 large garden pepper, seeds removed and pieces charred on a hot grill, over a flame, or under a 400° broiler.
2 cups toasted almonds
2 cups toasted cornbread
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
What you’ll do:
- For the tomatoes, toss them with salt, pepper, a few drops of sherry vinegar and olive oil along with the sliced shallots.
- Roast these all together in a 375° oven until the tomatoes and shallots are soft.
- Place the tomatoes and shallots, along with all of their juices from roasting, and the remaining ingredients into a blender. Puree all together with 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil until pretty smooth.
- Correct the seasoning with kosher salt and sherry vinegar.
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