By Anita L. Sherman
Chef de Cuisine Calen Payne is preparing for dinner. Busy in the kitchen, he takes a break to share his vision for what will appear on the plates of visiting foodie aficionados. His enthusiasm is contagious. Hailing from The Plains, Payne has more than 10 years of working in kitchens most recently at The Front Porch.
“I’m excited,” said Payne, “not only about preparing food but educating as well . . . taking food to its essence…we want to draw influences from Asian food and Southern and Italian cuisine.” When Payne talks “we,” he is referring to Executive Chef Nate Myers, a graduate of the Baltimore Culinary School, who also happens to own the Chesapeake Bay Chip Company. Myers was at Whippletree Farm scouting out fresh vegetables and herbs.
“Real cooks know real cooks,” said Payne with a knowing smile. As the two head into November, you can be assured that their creative genius will bring something new to the tables at the Flint Hill Public House. For those who enjoy a really good steak, don’t worry, they will remain on the menu but come with an eye and taste for new discoveries as well.
Very new on the scene is General Manager Dan Myers. Yes, he is Nate’s brother.
“We want people to come hungry and come often,” laughed Myers who, like the two chefs, has visions to make the restaurant more inviting and perhaps not so intimidating in his view. ‘I’d like to make the interior warmer, softer,” says Myers.
For more than 60 years, the historic building served as a school. Then as a rustic restaurant with a definitely country feel. When William Waybourn and Craig Spaulding purchased the building a few years ago they gutted the interior and brought a lot of Washington D.C. chic and modern elegance plus added beautiful suites to the upstairs. The walls of the restaurant are filled with artwork — some from their own art gallery and some from Long View Gallery.
It’s an eclectic ambiance that greets customers and Myers wants to build on and blend that into an exciting and comfortable eating environment experience.
Director of Marketing Kim McCusker knows that the restaurant experience has, of late, been inconsistent. She wants former and prospective customers to know that a new chapter is unfolding and there will be enriched stories to share.
“We have a vision . . . we’ve been looking for the best fit of personnel and we have that now,” said McCusker of their new general manager and formally trained chefs. She is particularly excited about their Thanksgiving Day menu offerings when the two teams from The Front Porch in The Plains and Flint Hill will come together for a beautiful day of harvest favorites.
“We’re going to elevate the food and we want people to feel comfortable coming whether they’re dressed up or wearing dirty boots . . . it’s all good,” says McKusker. “We want people to come, experience and enjoy.”
“We look for more wholesome entrees, lots of locally sourced foods and a price point for everyone.”
Myers echoed her sentiments.
“Things had gotten kind of old . . . we’re bringing new life and energy. It’s a new day at Flint Hill.”