Heather Ricker, Carnegie Hotel
The first thing you need to know about me is… I love to eat. Food is where all my good stories begin and this one is no different. The Carnegie Hotel has been the setting for my food journey for the last 13 years. I began as a pantry cook then after touching every station in the kitchen, I now reside in the 8th year as Executive Chef of the property. The Carnegie Hotel is a unique business in the area because we are an independently owned company that offers all the comforts and more of our corporate competitors. In short, I have been given many great opportunities to learn and grow my food education at the hotel just because of how it is structured. I did have formal education from my great alma mater Sullivan University in Louisville, Kentucky but I have experienced so many foodventures while at the Carnegie. That means it gets crazy sometimes!! I am privileged to create and prepare dinners that pair wine and food together. This is so fun and rewarding because I like to use simple flavors and dishes and combine them in new ways. For example, taking beef stew then deconstructing it into braised veal cheeks served on potato celery root mash topped with spiced red onion chutney with a side of carrot cornbread. This is what I love about my job that you can take ingredients or dishes that are ordinary and turn them into something extraordinary. I also create holiday menus for the season and that begins in July to get ready for the magical busy time we are in right now. If you didn’t already know that we offer banquet events, room service, spa café, and of course the fabulous Wellington’s restaurant. Now you know that when you are a patron or hotel guest you have access to food service at every corner of the hotel, even at the pool in the summertime. I wear lots of hats at the Carnegie when running the kitchen. The tasks of purchasing and inventorying food, recipe development, food safety, safety procedures, staff management, and preparing food are most of the jobs that happen each day for me. As jammed pack as a day can be the reason, I love what I do is the amazing staff that works along side me. Everyone from the General manager to the Food and Beverage director to my banquet chefs and dishwashers, they are talented people who work hard and know the business. Also, so many of us have grown up together in the hospitality business here at the Carnegie. My Sous Chef Genny Brewer and I have been working together for 13 years and 8 years ago we took the whole kitchen over and made it ours. Our business and personal relationship thrives because Genny and I have different styles of preparing food but then come together with our love of eating and our respect for each other’s talent. Moral of the story is that I work with some crazy talented people who take their job seriously and value people. Ok, on a lighter note we are very passionate about our food in the kitchen and we love making it all. A few of my very favorite item from the restaurant and Banquet menus are of course pimento cheese, house made bread, stone ground grits, slow roasted beef brisket, caramelize onion and feta tarts, Brussel sprouts, and German chocolate tort. These are the foods that I can’t get enough of. Please come and join us for dinner or your next party to see what great food is coming out of the Carnegie Hotel and Wellington’s restaurant.