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This chef probably wouldn't cook his own last meal

This chef probably wouldn't cook his own last meal

As for the kitchen at American Hotel, Woolver gets a little more pumped up than usual when people order a lot of fish.
This chef probably wouldn't cook his own last meal
Lee Woolver, head chef at the American Hotel, cites halibut as a favorite to prepare.
Photographer: Shutterstock

If Lee Woolver had to cook one last supper, what would it be?

"That depends," said the head chef at the American Hotel in Sharon Springs for the last 17 years. "Would it be a last meal, or a last meal I would make myself."

Woolver, who says he enjoys eating just about anything, counts ethnic foods among his favorites, and some of those aren't typically on the menu at the American Hotel.

"I love regional Chinese food, and I'm a fan of regional Mexican food," he said. "I love ethnic foods that I'm not particularly well versed in, such as Indian and Pakistani cuisine, and those are foods that I probably wouldn't make myself. I do what I do well, and we'll let other people do what they do well.'

As for the kitchen at American Hotel, Woolver gets a little more pumped up than usual when people order a lot of fish.

"I enjoy making seafood because I enjoy the whole process," he said. "Say the halibut. I buy it whole, I break it down and prepare it. I've seen it from beginning to end, and I like that. I've also probably seared I don't know how many thousands of filet mignons since we opened here and I like the way they come out."

Woolver likes to think he could also fulfill a last request for a vegetarian or vegan.

"We try to cater to other tastes as best we can," he said. "There's vegan and a lot of sub-categories of vegetarian. Different attempts to keep vegan and vegetarian items on the menu always seem to fall a little short for a lot of people, so now we take it on a per-case basis. We'll work with them and what they're looking for. We'll find something for them."

The American Hotel closes down annually for a couple of months during February and March. While July and August during the opera season are the busiest times - the hotel is open every day of the week during the summer - Woolver usually reports to work every Thursday through Sunday. He'll start cooking again in April, and among the entrees on the American Hotel menu will be pan-seared Long Island duck breast, chicken avgolemeno, boneless Porterhouse steak, New Zealand rack of lamb, and Jaeger schnitzel, to name just a few.

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