Freshly Made | Local Flavor

At the Woodstock Inn & Resort, master gardener Benjamin Pauly and chef Rhys Lewis are redefining farm-fresh cuisine.

By Yankee Magazine

Aug 03 2018


Brussel Sprouts with a sweet and sour sauce, carrots, peas and sesame seeds.

Photo Credit : Dana Freeman
by Dana Freeman
The wood for the classroom tables is sugar maple harvested from the nearby Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park.
Photo Credit : Dana Freeman

Located in one of the prettiest towns in Vermont, the Woodstock Inn & Resort is a AAA Four-Diamond property that boasts a fresh new shine. Everything from the grand entryway to the guest rooms and suites have been renovated and restored, while the recently added Red Barns at Kelly Way Gardens provides a multitude of culinary experiences for guests.

Kelly Way Gardens

The Kelly Way Gardens at the Woodstock Inn & Resort.
Photo Credit : Dana Freeman

Master gardener Benjamin Pauly cultivates Kelly Way Gardens’ three acres of land, which churn out more than 200 varieties of produce. There are some 55 kinds of tomatoes, 75 berry and orchard plantings, 50 kinds of herbs and edible flowers, and a mushroom glen, as well as annual and perennial flowers, honeybees, and hops. Everything goes to the resort to be used in its restaurant cuisine.

The Inn’s organic produce.
Photo Credit : Dana Freeman

Since the gardens are certified 100 percent organic, Pauly doesn’t use chemicals to keep bugs and diseases at bay. Instead, he focuses on growing the healthiest plants possible by making an investment in the soil and the nutrition of the plants. He also plants strategically — putting peonies next to raspberry bushes, for example, because the former attracts a kind of wasp that eats the larvae of Japanese beetles, which might otherwise wreak havoc on the berries.

Anna Pauly (Ben’s mother) designed the wooden quilt on the side of the
potting shed.
Photo Credit : Dana Freeman

Pauly’s knowledge of soil, plants, and insects comes from years of gardening with his mother on the family farm in Minnesota. He further honed his skills by studying landscape architecture, then spent two years in the Peace Corps working on an organic farm in West Africa.

The Red Barns

The Culinary Studio at the Red Barns.
Photo Credit : Dana Freeman

Until last year the two rustic red barns on the resort’s property were used only for storage. They were recently renovated and joined together to house culinary and garden studios.

Designed to host cooking demonstrations and dining events, the 11,000-square-foot culinary studio is outfitted with wares from Vermont companies such as Simon Pearce and Farmhouse Pottery.

Handcrafted Simon Pearce glassware.
Photo Credit : Dana Freeman

The culinary studio also features reclaimed and repurposed decor, from a backsplash made from a butternut tree harvested on the inn’s property, to chandeliers from the Woodstock Country Club, to wall sconces that once graced the Woodstock Inn’s old Rockefeller Room.

The wood for the classroom tables is sugar maple harvested from the nearby Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park.

Likewise, the 900-square-foot garden studio has salvaged lighting fixtures. In this space, Pauly teaches gardening and flower workshops.

The cooking studio countertop is made from wood from a reclaimed bowling alley.
Photo Credit : Dana Freeman

Guests can learn to make herbal teas or arrange freshly cut flowers. There are courses that focus on annual flowers, as well as figuring out which ones to plant to bloom in the fall.

The Red Rooster

The resort has four restaurants, including the award-winning Red Rooster, with menus driven by what is produced seasonally in the gardens.

Salad with new baby greens, pea shoots, carrots, radish, local chévre and an herb oil vinaigrette.
Photo Credit : Dana Freeman

Chef Rhys Lewis sits down with Pauly several times a year to discuss the resort’s upcoming culinary needs. In these meetings, they use a grow sheet to plan for specific menu items. The garden staff will harvest the ingredients to be used by the culinary team to create dishes with homegrown flavor.

Fall Harvest

The end of summer means harvest time. Most of Kelly Way Gardens’ 200 tomato plants are heavy with fruit; they continue to produce into the beginning of October. Among Pauly’s favorite varietals are Aunt Ruby’s German Green, Esterina, and Sakura, as well as black cherry tomatoes.

If the frost hasn’t taken the plants by mid-October, the remaining green tomatoes will be harvested to be used in fall dishes.

Brussel Sprouts with a sweet and sour sauce, carrots, peas and sesame seeds.
Photo Credit : Dana Freeman

In autumn the resort’s menus are more likely to feature ingredients whose flavor is brought out by colder temperatures, including carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, and horseradish. Pumpkins and squash are stored in the root cellar, beginning the third week in September, for use throughout the year.