Thursday, March 4, 2010

Self-Taught Chef Keeps Food Close to Home

by Libby Brandt

Just outside of McArthur and off County Road 25, lies a magnificent brick estate at the bottom of a winding driveway. Inside this lovely home, Chef Mary Reynolds fuels her passion for cooking by dreaming up and creating delicious homemade recipes for her dinner club, Flutes & Peppercorns.

The large manor is both a place of business and home for Chef Mary, owner and only chef of Flutes & Peppercorns. Mary is a self-taught chef whose family recipes have been her motivation in sharing her talent with others since her father first taught her to make pies at the age of 10. Since that time, she has been experimenting and perfecting her many family recipes, making everything from scratch.

In fact, Chef Mary’s signature feature of her cooking is that it is truly made from scratch. Whether she’s making her delicious pies (which are locally famous) or creating entire event menus, everything, right down to her vanilla extract, is made locally or by her own hand.

Chef Mary always knew she would someday share her gift with the world. Even when she spent most of her time helping her late first husband’s dairy farm, cooking was still an essential part of her life. Mary’s passion for food and entertaining fueled the loving endeavor that has become Flutes & Peppercorns.

Mary, who specializes in country-style gourmet cooking, places a huge emphasize on the relationship between the food we eat and the farms that produce it. All of the items she cooks come from the Athens Farmer’s Market. This, she believes, is what sets Flutes & Peppercorns apart from other dining experiences. Mary says that people these days just aren’t thinking outside the box when it comes to food. “What I want,” she says, “is for people to get out of the box and back into the garden.”

And that’s exactly what she is working to do with her Farm to Table dinners beginning this June. The summertime Farm to Table dinners will give patrons the opportunity to dine upon locally grown and raised foods with the very people who produced it.

Even the atmosphere of her home, owing itself in large part to the woods surrounding the property, enhances the relationship between nature and how we consume it. Chef Mary handpicked Flutes & Peppercorns’ d├ęcor to augment its woodland backdrop. Even the log over her mantle was taken right from the woods in her own backyard. “I just love bringing the outdoors inside.” Mary says. She also emphasizes the relaxed, calm nature of the home with live Native American flutists, which is where part of the name Flutes & Peppercorns is derived.

Initially set to open April 1, 2009, the business experienced several setbacks due to problems with building codes and permits. Finally, after eight months of struggle and modifications, Flutes &Peppercorns officially opened for business on December 1.

Mary’s dream to share her gift for making delicious food has evolved beyond childhood fantasies and adult wistfulness. She is a real chef, with a thriving business that represents who she is and her cooking philosophy.

No comments: