Meet Jay Nutt, the man behind the food at Elmhirst Resort, just don’t call him a chef.
Every time we see Jay Nutt, he’s doing something a little crazy. On one visit, he was strategizing on how to roast half a steer over a fire. On the next, he was trying to figure out how to use more mouse melons. On our last visit, he was teaching a cooking class focusing on lakefish.
“I have a team of chefs in the kitchen who do amazing work, I trust them and know I don’t need to be there. I’m the Food and Beverage Manager now. That’s my job,” says Jay.
He wears his title like a badge of honour – and why shouldn’t he? Elmhirst has grown year after year, and it continues to get better. With each season, they’ve found some new and delicious way to feature their products and attract hungry visitors to their historic property.
They’ve even got their own in-house food brand – Elmhirst’s Own. It’s a way for them to differentiate their homegrown (beef! vegetables! fruit!) and made products on their menus.
Towards the back of the property, you’ll find Jay’s carefully tended vegetable garden. On our last visit, there were runner beans, watermelons, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, elderberries, asparagus (though it had long bolted) and plenty of squash. Dotted amongst the cabins, you’ll find apple and pear trees heavy with fruit at this time of year.
A short stroll past the landing strip (yes, you can land your plane at Elmhirst Resort) you’ll find their flock of chickens and ducks. They can’t serve the eggs, but you can buy them at the front desk to cook in your cabin. At the top of the hill, you’ll find a fleet of horses and a herd of friendly cattle.
“We want to keep things as close to home as possible, but it’s also about our guests. We want to serve food they’ll love to eat” says Jay.
And love it we did! Elmhirst Resort is home to two restaurants: the Hearthside Dining Room and The Wild Blue Yonder Pub. We opted to eat at “The Pub” – as Jay calls it – on our last visit because we heard their burgers are out of this world. We were not disappointed.
It’s not just about burgers – though, they’re really good burgers. The kitchen crew does weekly Roast Beef nights, there’s BBQ and Blues Nights to plan and Wine Cellar Experiences to curate. Sunday Brunch is also eternally popular in the Hearthside Dining Room; in part because of the selection of housemade scones and fresh fried crullers on offer.
“This is a destination and part of that is food,” says Jay. “That’s why we joined Feast On. It’s about something bigger than us.”
Elmhirst Resort is a unique place. There aren’t many places on this planet that focus so much of their energy on providing quality, locally sourced food for their guests – year-round – in an accessible manner. It’s as much about education as it about community, quality and a great meal. We can’t wait to come back!
Elmhirst Resort is located at 1045 Settlers Line in Keene, Ontario.
They’re open 9AM – 8PM, 365 days a year.