Editor's note:  Over the next few weeks we are going to tell the stories of the chefs and restaurants participating in the Finger Lakes Wine Country Restaurant Week Challenge, June 18-24.  Some of the chefs have had surprising entry points into the culinary scene in the Finger Lakes.  For others, their paths were more planned, more part of a master plan.  For all however, the common theme is their passion and commitment to the food movement in the Finger Lakes.  Help us celebrate their commitment to sourcing 100% local ingredients and wines during this special week and may Restaurant Week become Restaurant Year.

In the Chef’s Corner with Brud Holland, Chef at the Red Newt Bistro
Written by Rochelle Bilow

 

 

Brud Holland in the kitchen at Red Newt Bistro. 

 

 

Often referred to affectionately as the “mad scientist” of the Finger Lakes culinary world, Brud Holland is always cooking up new ideas in the kitchen. Whether its bread made from spent grains, tortillas branded with a sizzling hot newt-shaped iron or to-go lunch boxes for wine trail guests, the Executive Chef of the Red Newt Bistro in Hector on Seneca Lake isn’t content unless his creativity is flowing.

 

And that’s a good thing, because Red Newt is known for being a little bit quirky-creative itself. Owned by Winemaker Dave Whiting, Red Newt Winery and Bistro has been promoting local wine and seasonal eating since long before they were buzzwords. Original Bistro Owner and Chef Debra Whiting created a restaurant that championedlocally-sourced products that perfectly complemented the winery’s wide range of aromatic white and complex red wines.

 

 
Holland, a friend and chef with a similar vision, took over the bistro in summer of 2011, and the bistro has continued to be a leader in the region for the use of responsible ingredient usage.

 

Holland’s has a background in restaurant cooking and culinary education - he also teaches classes at 171 Cedar Arts in Corning - make him hyper-aware to what people really want to eat, so diners at the “Newt,” as it’s known among locals, can expect mouth-watering flavor combinations with personal and creative touches. A French onion soup, for example, appeared on a recent menu, topped with a mini brioche roll in the shape of - you guessed it - a newt.

 

 

And although he’s sure to have fun with the Restaurant Week Challenge, Holland takes the task seriously. “When you think about 100% local, that means more than just the center of the plate. Local pork is good, but 100% means everything from spices to sweetener.”

 

 

That also means things like Spanish saffron and sugar are off-limits, but lucky for Holland, the Finger Lakes has a wealth of flavorful herbs and produce, as well as local maple syrup and honey. Lucky for restaurant week diners, he’s more than up to the challenge.

 

 

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