Chef’s Culinary Garden at Beechwood Inn

The Chef’s Culinary Garden at Beechwood Inn, Clayton, GA

The Northeast Georgia Mountains are home to some of Georgia’s leading fresh food producers. Vegetables, fruit, flowers, cheese, wine, nuts, grain, poultry, eggs, fish, pork and cattle are all seasonally available throughout the area. An abundance of fresh water, combined with soil rich in nutrients and a temperate climate offer a recipe for great fresh seasonal foods. Rabun County is particularly known for its cabbage crop. Maybe it’s the soil, but the cabbage grown here just tastes better. As spring moves towards summer we can hardly wait for our first ears of Osage Silver Queen Corn.

With all this local abundance we fret each spring as to what things we should plant in our culinary garden next to the Inn. We’ve been to restaurants where just moments before you are seated for dinner you observe the chef clad in her white coat tip toe into the gardens to snip fresh herbs and edible flowers. You just know you are in for a treat. We want to offer the type of experience where the diner sees and tastes things on their plate they know came out of the garden minutes before. The chef’s culinary garden should provide wonderful products but also needs to be close to the kitchen’s back door so it is as handy as walking into the pantry. And we want the garden to enhance and add to the variety, color and unique flavors for our guests’ dining experience.

Through the years we have honed our culinary garden to our style of cooking. Here is what we have planned for this year. We will plant a hedge of Genovese basil, as well as about 8 other varieties and colors. Other necessities include bay, dill, English thyme, tarragon, mints, lavender, oregano, rosemary, sage, parsley, savory and fennel; a rainbow of toy box tomatoes, lemon verbena, bee balm, heirloom tomatoes, edible flowers to bloom in succession. We also have an established asparagus patch, raspberries, blueberries, two varieties of crabapples, wild cherries (for drying), peaches, plums and a forest of Chanterelles. We can also count on Leckie Stack supplying us with some seasonal fruits from the Stack farm including Asian pears, persimmons and grapes. And Jenny Sanders will share with us wild ingredients in season such as ramps, elderflowers and berries, fiddleheads and a variety of mushrooms.

We would plant an acre of basil if we could. To many gardeners, basil is the king of herbs. Basil can play many roles while basking in the sun. Basil is essential in our kitchen, but it is also highly ornamental in our gardens and on our tables. We add branches to bouquets of flowers. Hot summer days become bearable if I can pluck fresh basil and use it in pestos, herbal vinegars, vegetable dishes and, most heavenly of all, nestle the leaves between slices of fresh bread along with a large slice of a ripe heirloom tomato and some creamy homemade mayo. Members of the mint family, basils are native to India, Africa and Asia but have a long, rich history of legend and use worldwide. Basil is best used fresh. Small leafed varieties can be grown in a pot on a sunny windowsill during the winter. To preserve summer’s flavor for winter make plenty of pesto and freeze it. We make sure that each year our garden has several Thai Basil plants. It is characterized by a strong licorice fragrance and flavor. Thai basil has many applications in the Beechwood kitchen due to its flavor appeal. It is the highlight of many Asian cuisines, including Thai, Vietnamese and Indian fare. The inn’s specialty is Thai Basil Rolls with Satay Peanut Sauce.

Another staple that we plant each spring is lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla). It is native to South America and grows well in North Georgia, but it does not survive our winters outdoors. The Spanish brought it to Europe where it was used in perfume. It has been a favorite for garden rooms in North America since its introduction in the 1800’s. It has a clean, sharp lemon scent that makes it the Queen of lemon-scented herbs. In Gone with the Wind, lemon verbena is mentioned as Scarlet O’Hara’s mother’s favorite plant. One whiff of the smell, and I predict you will not want to live without this luscious smelling herb.

The inn’s specialty is lemon verbena ice cream but we use the leaves in a number of recipes. It makes an excellent tea, especially when blended with mint. It can also be used to brighten the taste of fish, poultry, veggie marinades, stuffing, salad dressing, sorbets, pana cotta, jellies, and vinegar. As the leaves are tough, remove them before serving. Finely crumbled dried leaves can be added to the batters of carrot, banana, or zucchini bread. Try adding some to cooked rice just before serving.

A rainbow of toy box tomatoes is essential to our culinary garden each year. They are cherry and grape tomatoes in a variety of wonderful colors and flavors, some heirloom some hybrid. The most important thing to the chef is the palette of colors and unique flavors they offer. Some are sugary and sweet some are puckeringly tart. But oh are they beautiful in tarts, salads, bruschettas and as garnish. Last year we planted about a dozen varieties and I had to resist eating them while I picked them fresh off the vine. We plant them in giant containers and they surround the Beechwood gardens. We will often see guests plucking a sample as they walk by.

Our heirloom tomatoes are good in almost anything but one of our favorite recipes is Black Krim Tomato Marmalade. Our wild cherries and crabapples are very tart, so they are best used in coulis, jams and remoulades. The blueberries and raspberries will find their way fresh to our breakfast table and also baked into muffins, breads and sinfully wonderful desserts.

The gardens also yield a succession of seasonal edible flowers. Today, many restaurant chefs and innovative home cooks garnish their plates with flower blossoms for a touch of elegance. They can be sprinkled on salads or added to your recipe. The secret to success when using edible flowers is to keep the dish simple. Most edible flowers have a very delicate taste, so when using them as a flavor component do not add them to something that already has strong flavors. Today this nearly lost art is enjoying a revival.

Not all flowers are edible, and the edible varieties should be grown without the use of pesticides or other chemicals. Edible flowers should be carefully identified and in some cases there are only parts of the flower that are edible (in some flowers the anthers should be removed). The Beechwood Chefs will often use a flower as the central part of an appetizer or entre. For instance, we use colorful organic daylilies and fill them with a light stuffing of local goat cheese and fresh herbs.

Writing about our culinary garden and thinking of these recipes makes us long for tomato season once again. Planting our culinary garden each spring renews our spirit and brings us joy. We appreciate the efforts brought to bear by local farmers and ranchers, but most of all we thank God for the variety and abundance of fresh products we bring to our table.

by Chef David Darugh

Beechwood Inn is Georgia’s Premier Wine Country Inn

Culinary Online Learning Program

Not long ago there was a time when cooking was just considered to be one of the household chore activities done by women. But looking at the present scenario, it is now regarded as one of the highly skilled arts and is in great demand in the hospitality industry. In fact, it has become one of the major core service industries in the hospitality sector. Today there is a great demand for culinary artists in many top hotels and resorts. So, if you are interested in entering this type of profession and working in higher-class establishments, then going for a culinary degree can be the right career decision.

Wide Career Prospects

The career prospect in the field of culinary art is very wide and there are several areas of focus. Attaining a degree in culinary arts or culinary degree lets you choose from an amazing number of cook positions. These jobs range from fast food cooks to the high end restaurants or dining outlets. There are numerous other profiles like Test Kitchen Chef or Food Writer that you can carry once you complete your culinary art course. If you have leadership skills and enjoy carrying a little more responsibility in the workplace, then Head Chef can be the position that is meant just for you. As Head Chef, you can enjoy more control over menu selections, preparation styles and ingredients, and other aspects of the culinary arts.

These days many culinary businesses hire specialists to handle the job. So, as a Menu Planner you can do exactly what you might think, which is to plan out a menu. Apart from this, if you are good in baking and cake decorations, you can choose to work as a bakeshop attendant. There are many positions ranging from chef to manger in the field of culinary art. A culinary degree allows career goers plenty of flexibility, but at the end the success in the field of culinary arts largely depends on proper training and practice.

Learning Platforms

Culinary art is a skill that could be learned from various cooking schools. There are a number of smaller cooking schools located in small towns that work with one of the larger schools. Many community colleges offer programs in the food arts field, which in turn can help you learn basic skills before moving forward in this career. Apart from this, you can also receive a culinary degree through a distance learning or online program. It might sound hard to believe, but these online culinary or distance learning culinary programs are gaining huge response. Online schools offering this type of program works quite well and has gained more enrolling ratio of students in last few years. Many online cooking schools are providing the facility to watch online pictures of recipes and videos of cooking techniques. This new type of teaching food arts online is quickly becoming one of the famous ways of obtaining a culinary degree.

Online degrees in culinary provides you with the necessary skills and knowledge for the position while building up your experience along your career path. Once you complete your online culinary program, you get to learn about food preparation, cost management, food purchasing, selection and storage, and menu planning.

The best advantage of going for an online culinary program is that it allows you to keep moving up in the business world while making yourself more qualified for future opportunities at the same time. Besides this, you do not have to complete your course in a water-tight study schedule. You can easily study at your own speed and appear for exams when you think you are ready.


An online education from a culinary institute is an invaluable investment. The savings you realize by cooking meals from scratch and eating in more often will offset the cost of the class. A culinary degree will give you access to wide career opportunities you would not have had otherwise. Certainly a degree from a culinary institute will not only pay for itself, but also improve the very quality of your life.

Celebrity Chefs Lead Stellar Culinary Careers

Charismatic and creative chefs have impacted culture since the 1880s, when France’s Antoine Carme rose to stardom as chef for Napoleon and European royalty. Less than a century later, American Julia Child recreated the world’s understanding of French Cuisine through her cookbooks and television appearances, paving the way for a slew of celebrity chefs in the 1990s and into the next century.

Celebrity chefs earned their fame by starting with culinary school degrees or cooking in their parents’ kitchens. Some supplement culinary school or formal culinary education with natural talent and magnetic personalities to earn public success. Celebrity chefs and their cooking wisdom are available everywhere including a television network devoted entirely to culinary arts and shelves of cookbooks at the local bookstore.

Julia Child: American Chef Turns French

Julia Child, born in 1912 in Pasadena, California, got her start in cooking in the late 1940s after a career in advertising and public relations. Already a graduate of Smith College, she enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu culinary school when her husband was assigned a job in Paris. She later opened a cooking school, L’Ecole des Trois Gourmandes, and published the famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking with two colleagues from Le Cordon Bleu. Child became one of American’s first celebrity chefs and enjoyed a long career of television appearances, teaching, and writing.

Rocco DiSpirito: Reality Cooking

New York’s Rocco DiSpirito is one of celebrity chefdom’s best educated stars. He enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America at age 16, where he earned a culinary school degree with honors. He later studied at the Jardin de Cygne in Paris, and spent two years studying regional French food and wine. Rocco rounded out his culinary education with a business degree from Boston University. DiSpirito is known for his fusion of French and Asian styles, and he has opened several popular restaurants. His television credits include the reality show The Restaurant and selling Rocco Cookware on QVC.

Bobby Flay: Natural Culinary Talent

Bobby Flay began his culinary career at age 17, when he was hired at Joe Allen’s restaurant in Manhattan. Allen was so impressed with Flay’s cooking abilities that he paid for Flay’s culinary education at the French Culinary Institute. After receiving his culinary school degree, Flay became famous for his unique blends of Spanish and American cuisines. Flay owns four restaurants, including Bolo in New York, and appears regularly on the Food Network and the Early Show on CBS.

Emeril Lagasse: Kickin’ Cooking up a Notch

Known for popularizing Cajun and Creole cooking, Emeril Lagasse first learned about cooking from his mother as a young boy in Massachusetts. He received his culinary school degree from Johnson and Wales University, and worked as head chef at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans before opening his own restaurants there and in other U.S. cities. He also is a famous TV personality, getting his start in 1993 on the Food Network. The word “bam” has become synonymous with his name.

Nigella Lawson: Writing Her Culinary Career

Unlike most celebrity chefs, Nigella Lawson began her culinary career as a food writer. She earned a language degree from Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford, England and got a job writing a restaurant column for Spectator. She now writes for several major culinary publications, including Gourmet and Bon Appetit, has published a number of bestselling cookbooks based on her motto, “To achieve maximum pleasure through minimum effort.” Today, she hosts several successful TV cooking shows such as Nigella Bites.

Jamie Oliver: Life-Long (and Naked) Chef

Jamie Oliver began his culinary training at age eight in his parents’ popular pub in England. He worked on his culinary education at Westminster Catering College through age sixteen, and he got his celebrity break when he appeared on a documentary about the British caf in which he was working. Television producers called him in the next morning, and he began starring in the enormously successful Naked Chef. He has since written several Naked Chef books, taken his live cooking show on the road, and opened a popular not-for-profit restaurant. Jamie’s dedication to public service and to making culinary education accessible has won him many fans.

Wolfgang Puck: Charismatic Culinary Talent

Originally from Austria, Wolfgang Puck was one of the first super chefs to establish a cooking empire. His interest in cooking was first sparked by his mother, a hotel chef. Puck received his culinary education as an apprentice in the master kitchens of top French restaurants in Europe. His charismatic personality and cooking talent led to television appearances, popular cookbooks, and wildly successful business ventures. Spago, his famous Los Angeles-based restaurant, revolutionized California pizza with its menu of gourmet toppings.

Gordon Ramsay: Villain Chef or Hero Helper?

England’s Gordon Ramsay has become one of the most notorious villains of celebrity chefdom, known for both his outstanding cooking skills and abrasive personality. His soccer career was cut short with an injury at age fifteen. He began cooking four years later, working with top chefs in London and Paris before becoming head chef at Aubergine in 1993. Ramsay’s infamy has spread to the U.S. in his reality television show Hell’s Kitchen. His culinary career continues to flourish with new restaurants and another television series where he provides on-the-spot culinary education to struggling restaurant owners.

Rachael Ray: Much More Than 30 Minutes of Fame

Culinary entrepreneur Rachel Ray began cooking at her mother’s side as a toddler. Her family owned and worked in restaurants in the northeastern United States. Ray learned about gourmet foods working at the candy counter and the fresh food department at Macy’s. She opened a prestigious gourmet food market in New York but left to pursue a culinary career in the Adirondacks. She managed restaurants and taught her “30-Minute Meals” cooking classes, which catapulted her to fame when she was featured on the local news. Ray now is the author of New York Times bestselling cookbooks, publishes her own magazine, and appears regularly on television.


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Culinary Illustration – The Art Of Food

Illustrations and sketches are part of everyday life. Everything that we hold and see in this modern time has a creative illustration or came out of a sketch. Illustrations are widely used in artwork and even in advertising. One of the uses of illustration that has been underrated is in culinary.
Culinary illustration has been around for decades when it was used to illustrate cookbooks. It started even before food photographers became the trend. Culinary illustration is an art that can be a difficult path for many artists. Since it’s a path that’s less-taken, choosing it might bring obstacles. However, it’s not something unmanageable.
In becoming a culinary illustrator, there are simple steps that you can take in order to achieve this goal.
Have the basic skills
A creative job will also need creativity and talent. Don’t apply for a position which you don’t have the knack for. You can always improve yourself by practicing and drawing different food items. This will help in improving your skills. You can look at how other culinary illustrators are depicting their work for starters. However, make sure that you create your own style in illustrating. Aside from that, you also need to be passionate about art and illustrating. Innate creativity is a must in order to sustain the job in the long haul.

Technical skills, especially using computer software, are also necessary in being a culinary illustrator. This makes projects and illustrations quicker and easier. This is an essential skill that you can’t skip because it is usually required for most types of projects.

Have that love of food
Being a culinary illustrator means you will be sketching and drawing food for every project. A love for both art and food are useful in this job. You need to enjoy and love food in order to appreciate theartworks that you are creating. This can also make illustrating easier for you. You can have your own take on a certain dish and express how you feel.
Go the distance
After starting your culinary illustrations and finding a style that suits you, don’t just stay there. Go the distance and improve your craft. You need to make your illustrations stand out from the rest. An illustrator has to go further and make his work more interesting than a photo. This can help you in keeping up with competitors and making your work unique.
Start a portfolio
Building a portfolio is a must for every creative. This ensures that you get to show your work to future clients and agents who might want to sign you up. A portfolio also acts as a brochure that will showcase your best works. Make sure that you only include your best illustrations and those that really depict your style in drawing.

You can also share your portfolio to friends by using social media. This helps in getting the word out and showing off your works to more people. This is also a form of exposure for you as an artist.
Get inspired
Continually look for inspiration for your culinary illustrations. It’s not just about food. You can take inspiration from fashion trends, paintings, and other things around you in creating your food art.

Try a variety of medium for illustrations. It can be watercolor or even hand-drawn images, as long as it’s different from the one you usually use. This will help in getting fresh ideas and being continuously inspired.

Although being a culinary illustrator is not a conventional path for many artists, it can be worthwhile and enjoyable for those who enjoy food and art together. It’s a matter of heading straight towards that path and doing your best to get a name for yourself.

Culinary Arts Education Getting A Degree In Less Than Two Years

Culinary Arts can be a very exciting career, but before deciding on furthering your education you may want to step back and consider exactly what it is that you want to do in the food industry. Many job opportunities don’t necessary require an education pass high school or an equivalent diploma. Short order cooks, fry cooks and even food preps often simply require on the job training. It is usually chefs, nutritionists, food managers, and those who truly envision food preparation as a form of art who will need to further their education into culinary arts.

A degree in culinary arts can usually be obtained in two years or less. The first part is obtaining your culinary chef certification and from there you can get your AOS degree. (Associate of Occupational Studies) Those who get the culinary chef certification but not their AOS degree are more often than not limiting themselves to being a sous-chef at best. It is with the AOS degree that you open the doors to so many carrier paths. On-line degrees are not recommended for culinary arts as working with foods is more of a hands on task. It’s important to be able to see, smell and taste as you are learning. A good palate is very often a chef’s best friend.

The nice thing about obtaining a degree in culinary arts is that you aren’t limiting yourself to only being a chef. If you’ve gotten your degree and started working in a five star restaurant, what happens if you find cooking simply isn’t for you? There are a variety of other career paths that you can choose from! You can work in restaurant management, as a nutritionist, you can teach others the art of cooking, you could become a food critic for newspapers and magazines, and you could even become a food stylist and photograph all that yummy goodness you see in magazines!

There may be some of you who know you aren’t interested in becoming a chef or want any type of career where food is involved. Maybe you want to learn to cook different meals for your family or learn how to incorporate more nutritious food into your daily menu. We don’t all need to want to become a chef in order to want to cook our family good nutritious meals they will enjoy. There are also a wide variety of ways for you to learn as well. You can find a local cooking class, recipe swaps, even cooking school getaways for you and your spouse.

We are living in a time where chefs are no longer tucked back away in a kitchen never to be seen. Chefs are, in fact, more recognized today than ever. Just recently one of the contestants from Hell’s Kitchen moved into a neighboring town where I live. Overnight he has made what once was a place where only the young went to enjoy their spirits a restaurant that has people waiting in lines to grab a table. If cooking is your passion, furthering your education is the key to success. Aim high and enjoy every bite.