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Taste of the Month: The Carnegie Inn & Spa

on June 27, 2016 10:13 AM

For the ultimate foodie, a seat at the chef’s table at the Carnegie Inn & Spa, located at 100 Cricklewood Drive in State College, is truly an unforgettable dining experience. Sitting in a busy kitchen used to be less than desirable, but diners today are intrigued by the behind-the-scenes look at the action in the kitchen, and chefs push the boundaries of the culinary arts to create dishes that utilize the highest quality ingredients with as much locally sourced produce as possible, beautifully plated, and exquisitely delicious.

Chef’s tables are now found in Michelin-starred restaurants and other upscale fine dining establishments. The origins of the chef table dates back to nineteenth-century France, when invitations were reserved for friends or family of the chef. The concept has evolved into an exclusive, private dinner to mark a special occasion, and many celebrities and foodies alike have enjoyed the opportunity to have a one-on-one culinary tasting with the executive chef in the kitchen.

The chef’s table at the Carnegie Inn & Spa is a table for two available Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings starting at 6 p.m., with at least 48-hours notice needed.

“Most people usually give us a week’s notice because it’s for a special occasion,” says executive chef Paul Kendeffy. “Once your reservation is made, I call to check on any food allergies and any particular dislikes.”

Kendeffy creates the 10 courses — or as many courses as you can eat — using the best ingredients available to him. For an additional $50, wines are paired with each course to complement the flavors in the dishes.

Some of the courses that diners have sampled include butter poached oysters served over celery root puree, topped with caviar; black Italian truffles shaved over potato puree with an emulsion of edible 23-karat gold dust in olive oil drizzled on top; and spring rack of lamb with asparagus puree and baby turnips.

A Culinary Institute of America graduate, Kendeffy returns to the kitchen where he began in State College more than 15 years ago. He worked at the Carnegie Inn from 1998 to 2001 before he became a partner in a restaurant group that owned Zola New World Bistro, the Gamble Mill, and Alto’s.

“After the properties were sold and resolved, I was two weeks from moving my family to Florida when one of the owners of the Carnegie Inn called me and asked if I would come take a look at the restaurant and help out before I left,” says Kendeffy. “The restaurant was in bad shape, and the kitchen was in no condition to cook in. I have a personal attachment to this place, and as a chef, either you do it or you don’t; I couldn’t just help out.”

In the summer and fall of 2015, Kendeffy assisted in the renovation of the kitchen and a Carnegie garden was built in the back of the restaurant to grow baby lettuce, edible flowers, herbs, scallions, radishes, turnips, tomatoes, kale, and beans.

“The goal was to bring the Carnegie Inn & Spa back to its glory days in the late 1990s, when it was the premier restaurant in the area,” explains Kendeffy. “We take food very seriously, and it’s great to get produce this fresh, with no chemicals, from our garden and serve it tonight to our guests.”

In addition to the chef’s table, the Carnegie Inn & Spa is only open for dinner service Monday through Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m. It is closed Sundays. With seating for 40, reservations are highly recommended. The menu changes every four weeks and features items such as whole roasted squab, homemade agnolotti pasta with spring peas and asparagus, and seared scallops with American sturgeon caviar.

“We try to use a lot from our garden, but offer dishes that you wouldn’t normally want to cook at home or ingredients that you may not be able to find at the grocery store,” says Kendeffy.

The third Thursday of the month, the Carnegie Inn offers a wine or spirits tasting event. Alternating between wine and spirits, the themed dinners are $75 per person and include five to six courses with wine or spirit pairings. Make your reservations now for the Southern Africa Wine Adventures dinner on July 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Carnegie Inn.

The Carnegie Inn & Spa also offers special accommodations, dinner, and spa packages. For more information, visit carnegieinnandspa.com, and for reservations, call (814) 234-2424.

For a special recipe for cheese soufflé:

CHEESE SOUFFLE'   SERVES ABOUT 4

  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup coarsely grated Gruyère cheese

Preheat oven to 400 F. Butter 6-cup (1 1/2-quart) soufflé dish. Add Parmesan cheese and tilt dish, coating bottom and sides. Warm milk in heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until steaming. Meanwhile, melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until mixture begins to foam and loses raw taste, about 3 minutes (do not allow mixture to brown). Remove saucepan from heat; let stand 1 minute. Pour in warm milk, whisking until smooth. Return to heat and cook, whisking constantly until very thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in paprika, salt, and nutmeg. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, whisking to blend after each addition. Scrape soufflé base into large bowl. Cool to lukewarm. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into lukewarm or room temperature soufflé base to lighten. Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions while gradually sprinkling in Gruyère cheese. Transfer batter to prepared dish.Place dish in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 375 F. Bake until soufflé is puffed and golden brown on top and center moves only slightly when dish is shaken gently, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

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