Winter at the Black Rabbit Bar & Restaurant at Edgefield is everything you dream of – cozy, warm, full of creative cocktails, delicious comfort food and extravagant-yet-homey desserts. We sat down with Executive Chef Jaime Shultz and Executive Pastry Chef Chuck Dugo to taste and talk.
Black Rabbit Executive Chef Jaime Shultz
After a stint at the University Club of Boston and a couple other hot spots, native Midwesterner Jaime Shultz came to Oregon with the goal of balancing his culinary experience from coast to coast, and he has embraced Northwest style, tinged with East Coast flair and his Wisconsin roots – although, the closest you’ll come to that Midwestern staple the hotdish (casserole to us West Coasters) is his exquisite rabbit confit with white bean cassoulet and Hammerhead sausage.
The holiday menu at Black Rabbit is a celebration of the season and this special region, showcasing Jaime’s belief that eating out should be delicious entertainment with food that is approachable, yet not something you’d make at home: Local mushrooms in a savory, herbaceous, duck breast-bread pudding are complemented by sour cherry gastrique; a classic Waldorf salad gets a new spin with kale and aged cheddar dressing; and beet carpaccio with goat cheese panna cotta gets toasty warmth from roasted pistachios.
Jaime grew up on the banks of the Mississippi, fishing with his brothers. They’d reel in sunfish and catfish, gutting and fileting then pan frying them over an open fire on the beach under the tutelage of his dad. This was the beginning of Jaime’s love affair with food. He says, “Pulling those fish out of the same water that we swam in every day, then learning to prepare them right there on the beach over a fire… It was pretty magical.”
So he grew up to practice that magic every day. Now Jaime is passing his passion and knowledge on to the next generation. At home, most of his cooking centers around his 4-year old daughter who dons her chef’s toque and apron to help her dad in the kitchen. These days, she’s especially into baking, which is just fine with Jaime.
Black Rabbit Executive Pastry Chef Chuck Dugo
Pastry Chef Chuck Dugo’s winter dessert menu is a nod to the tradition and comfort of European classics like trifles and yule logs – with a sophisticated, modern twist. Dugo wants to expand people’s ideas of what dessert can be, and he does exactly that in his pear-ginger trifle: The crisp snap of ginger cookies punctuates velvety layers of ginger cream and sweet-meets-tart pear chutney, while the heat of ginger and Fresno chiles adds just the spiciness you never knew could make a dessert so perfect.
This genius baker thinks we all need some extra comfort and care right now (hear, hear!), wondering, “Who doesn’t want a warm cake in a mug next to a fire while wrapped in blankets?” A question he answered with a melty, decadent “mug cake” filled with semifreddo and topped with crushed peppermint candies and dark chocolate. Cousin to the mug cake, Dugo’s whiskey & chocolate cakeshake is exactly as delicious as it sounds – it involves ice cream, Hogshead whiskey, truffle, chocolate in multiple forms and whipped cream. Enough said.
Need to try them all? You’re not alone, so the Black Rabbit is offering a dessert sampler featuring the ginger-pear trifle, yule log, mug cake, daily sorbet and two specialty confections. For this, we’ll skip straight to dessert.
Before coming to the Black Rabbit, Dugo was pastry chef at San Francisco’s Slanted Door, and there he learned to go to the origin of foods and build from there – which is exactly what he has done with the winter dessert menu. Case in point: a classic English yule log enters a new era with the addition of Moroccan flavors.
Growing up in an exuberant half-Italian family, much of Dugo’s young life revolved around meals as celebration, and a seed was planted in him that food and entertaining are all rooted in the same playfulness, fun and sharing.
He employs that same spirit of sharing in the Black Rabbit Bakery; he is quick to credit his team and emphasizes the importance of collaboration. At the same time, he values his own creative process, saying, “I’m excited to be here. It’s really a fun place with a lot of great people. And for me, creative freedom is not only important for my soul, it’s important because I get to showcase exactly what I do, and the patience for allowing my process to unfold is a rare thing!”
Winter dinner specials are being served in the Black Rabbit Restaurant at Edgefield through New Year’s, and the dessert menu will be available through January.
While you’re at Edgefield, stop by the hotel lobby for a peek at the extravagant sugar-and-gingerbread version of the Edgefield manor created by Dugo and his team.