When chef Gabe McMackin’s restaurant The Finch in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn won a Michelin star, it was because the team focused on giving guests an extraordinary experience rather than the accouterments of a fine dining space. And now as executive chef at Troutbeck, McMackin will redefine the culinary program by digging into the traditions in this part of Upstate New York. We talked to this curator of experiences…
Q: How does your philosophy align with that of Troutbeck?
Troutbeck has a 200-year-old legacy of upholding incredible standards with regards to hospitality—it is a place with deep history, unique character, and rich cultural connections. The food philosophy will be true and honest to Troutbeck’s place and time—an expression of what Troutbeck has always been and continues to be.
Q: In what way is the menu inspired by the spirit of the hotel?
Each dish will be thoughtfully curated and derived from an unraveling of Troutbeck’s history —studying its geography and analyzing its place and purpose. The food will be a celebration, inspired by the bounty of the Hudson Valley and Litchfield County. Our culinary program will cherish a moment and enhance the experience of being a guest at the property.
Q: Has your perception changed since you got a Michelin star?
There’s a renewed sense of energy to how I approach the kitchen, the community, and the work that I am doing. The Michelin Star is something that keeps me motivated and inspires me to keep creating and evolving.
Q: What made you want to become a chef?
Food has the power to bring people together, to create communities, strengthen bonds, and is an integral part of our memories. I wanted to play a part in this, to be a curator of experiences.
Q: Earliest memories of food?
Working alongside my mother in her beautifully tended garden in North West Connecticut. Together, we would pick fruits, vegetables, and herbs that we would then use in that night’s dinner and dessert.
Q: Who would you like to cook for?
I love to cook for people who are naturally curious, experimental, and genuinely excited about the entire dining experience.
Q: What is the future of the food industry considering the times we live in?
I think we are living in an incredibly critical moment in time, especially in the food industry. I see a continued fascination and exploration of the hyper-local movement and an increase in the consideration for what one puts in their body.