Local Chef Takes Scenic Route To The White Carrot

Chef Brian outside of his countryside restaurant The White Carrot. His first introduction to a restaurant kitchen was as a dishwasher at the See-Zurh House. Submitted photo

MAYVILLE — Looking for something unique and elegant, but fun and entertaining at the same time? Consider a beautiful drive to a countryside restaurant where attention to detail and service is second to none, where the freshest food is served in an ambience of serenity and where the chef has been trained in New York City and France. The White Carrot is all of this and more.

Owner Brian Kiendl’s story started like that of many other chefs with his hands in dishwater at a local restaurant. His first introduction to a restaurant kitchen was as a dishwasher at the See-Zurh House at the age of 14. He liked the methodical and organized part of the job, but he wasn’t satisfied washing dishes. He wanted to cook.

“I’ve always enjoyed peeking over the shoulders of my mother and grandmother (while they were preparing meals).

He soon got a job working as a cook at Chautauqua Lake Yacht Club under the guidance of Chris Sorenson. After graduating high school, Kiendl attended Edinboro University on a football scholarship. He “didn’t enjoy school” and rarely attended classes and soon failed out. He made the decision to enroll at Jamestown Community College and soon realized he liked this school no better than the last. After the second attempt at higher education, the young man packed his bags and moved to Boca Raton, Florida, where his sister found a job for him working in the kitchen of a bistro-style restaurant “done right,” where he learned “nice technique and some foundation.” After finishing his 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift, he went into the men’s room, changed his clothes and went to his second job at a steakhouse.

“Chefs have unusual blood to the point where we seek out self-abuse and mental abuse. I’m glutton for punishment. That’s why I’m a chef,” he says. “It’s grueling mentally and physically.”

Kiendl soon fell in love with the lifestyle of fine dining and transferred to Gainesville to work at Haile Plantation Golf and Country Club where the course was designed by Arnold Palmer. His mentor was Rolf Weber, a German chef.

“I loved working with Rolf, who was a gentle sweetheart outside of work, but all business at work,” he relays. “He was like an uncle to me. I became a sous chef within a year and was told ‘you were my best mistake I ever hired.'”

Chef Weber advised the young man to attend French Culinary Institute, now known as International Culinary Center (ICC), located in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City.

“He saw something in me. I don’t know what. He didn’t pay my way, but he told me where I needed to go.”

His six months at ICC were spent in intense training with 400-500 hours of hands-on work. The class that started with 25-30 students dwindled to 12 graduates. The instructors were like drill sergeants, but he didn’t miss a day of classes. He went from not going to class at all and not caring at the other schools to finding his passion and graduating at the top of his class.

One of the school’s deans sent him to Cannes, France, where he worked for Jean Paul Battaglia at L’Fabble. The kitchen was a glassy area on a level above the restaurant, “a fishbowl” where the diners could watch the meal preparation. Kiendl experienced the freshest vegetables of the highest quality while working there.

“To take an artichoke that was just cut and serve within two hours…” he says. It may be where the inspiration came to do what he is doing today.

He noticed that France was all about the lifestyle with every person taking a leisurely lunch break with five or six friends while enjoying life.

“Nobody upset, everyone laughing, eating wonderful bread and pastries,” he says.

After seven months long months of hard work and homesickness, he returned home realizing just how much the experience shaped him into who he is.

“Those days were the worst. Again, glutton for punishment,” he says.

After returning to Chautauqua County, Kiendl ran the main kitchen at the Athenaeum Hotel on the Chautauqua Institution grounds for one season. He left that job to go to New York City, where he opened Boulud Sud, a Mediterranean restaurant owned by world renowned Chef Daniel Boulud.

“It was a great experience. I had the privilege to work with some awesome chefs.

A little over a year later, he moved to the Members Dining Room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where he was sous chef. After returning home for a hiatus, he met his wife-to-be, never to return to the Big Apple.

“I was shell-shocked when I returned to this area where it was difficult to find the produce and the help I was used to working with,” he admits.

After working briefly in Ellicottville, he was called by Mike Andrzejewski to come to a huge restaurant in Buffalo’s Lafayette Hotel, but he soon returned home finding work once again at Chautauqua Yacht Club, but it was not to be as he was fired. While honeymooning in Asheville, N.C., with his wife, Robin, they had made the decision to relocate there. Their plans changed when the new Mrs. Kiendl’s mother found a building, the former Mazza Chautauqua Cellars, that was perfect for a restaurant and near Chautauqua Institution. After installing a bar and the kitchen of his dreams and hiring staff, The White Carrot opened on Sept. 2, 2016.

“We have developed an amazing relationship with Bob Mazza,” he says. “I don’t think we opened as a great restaurant. It was a pretty good restaurant, but now that the majority of the kinks are ironed out…We were trying to force this restaurant to be what it didn’t want to be.”

“I love the staff I have now. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Every single person works so hard. Just the way they work together, I just like to sit back and take it in.”

He wants to bring to The White Carrot what he experienced in France, to see faces and know names. Each day by four or five o’clock Tom English, the general manager, soon to be a sommelier, knows some facts about the persons coming to done that evening, be it the celebration of a special event, a return visit or an allergy. The chef and servers do a nightly line-up where new dishes and wine are presented, giving the wait staff a chance to become familiar with them before the service.

“What we are really trying to achieve here is to create a place where every single night, every single person that comes through the door will feel that dinner is being prepared for them personally,” says the owner. “We will accommodate every food allergy and restriction, likes and dislikes and are stepping up the personal side. We want our guests to feel like they are coming to a special place, not just going out to eat. This is for them.”

Diners will be served various flavorful bites from “A Carnivorous Tasting” menu, beginning with an array of canapes, a thank you gift from the kitchen, followed by rapid courses and a couple of varieties of artisan breads, baked daily and served with local Amish-made butter that has special flavorful additions. A cluster of slower composed dishes of lightness to heavy and/or cold to hot and/or subtle to assertive is served before coffee or espresso with a progression of sweets. Reservations are required for 5:30 or 7:30 p.m. seatings. It takes approximately one hour and 45 minutes for the five-course, plus surprises, experience. The cost is $75 per person. Wine pairing suggestions, craft beers and a cocktail list are offered. Alcoholic beverages are not included in the price of the meal. An open bar is available all evening.

“I want each course to have at least one item from the property and cover at a minimum of 75 percent of the menu,” the restaurateur says when referring to the half-acre garden, berry patches, flower beds and bee boxes found on the land that was blessed by Pastor Doug Kibbe, head pastor of Church on the Rock. “The rest will come from neighboring farms with the exception of citrus and seafood from other areas.”

He practices organic gardening, starting the plants from seeds in February in an 18-by-20-foot greenhouse with plans to grow year-round soon. The greenhouse has a raised bed for growing “perfect baby vegetables with perfect tops.” There is a root cellar on the property where vegetables are stored all year, as well as the pickles and the preserves made in the kitchen.

“When he talks about pickles, he doesn’t mean just any pickles,” says Tom English. “He pickles many kinds of vegetables.”

At this point, the chef mentions a favorite quote “The chef with the biggest pantry is the better chef. It’s our goal to create a wonderful, memorable experience. I’ve been really fortunate. I’ve had quite the journey. My whole journey has been godly,” he says of his life. “My wife is my rock. She has been the one on the ground.”

The couple has a one month baby girl, Sofie Ann.

Chef Brian has included a few simple, but elegant recipes.

The White Carrot has several special events planned for the coming months. Their Grapes and Grazing events will feature wines presented by Johnson Estate Winery (May 9), Bag and String Wine Merchants (June 13), T. Edward Wines (July 11) and Palm Bay International (Aug. 8). The Chef Unchained Series will feature three of Buffalo’s top chefs; Chef Edward Forster of The Dapper Goose (June 25), Chef Steve Gedra of The Black Sheep (July 23) and Chef Ross Worhol of Oliver’s Cuisine (Aug. 20). An End of Summer Bash with food and live music takes place on Sept. 9.

Necessary dinner reservations for the 5:30 or 7:30 p.m. seatings may be made at reservations@ whitecarrotrestaurant.com or by calling 269-9000. The White Carrot is located at 4717 Chautauqua-Stedman Road, Mayville.

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CARROT PANNA COTTA

1 1/2 cups chopped carrots (reserve carrot tops for optional salad)

sprig of fresh thyme

1 qt. heavy cream

1 qt. whole milk

7 1/2 sheets gelatin (available at Wegman’s)

salt to taste

Place carrots in a medium sized pot with thyme. Cover with cream and milk. Bring to a boil and reduce heat cooking until carrots are tender. Meanwhile, in a small bowl of ice water, bloom gelatin until soft. Blend in blender until a smooth texture reached. Place in small ramekin or cup for serving. Let chill in refrigerator for at least 5-6 hours.

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BEEF CARPACCIO NICOISE

6 oz thinly sliced beef

2 poached potatoes, sliced

1 organic egg yolk

5-6 fresh garden beans, blanched

fresh baby greens (baby gem, arugula, endive, butter, etc.)

pickled red onion

simple vinaigrette

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PICKLED RED ONION

1 red onion, thinly sliced

3 c red vinegar

2 c water

1 c granulated sugar

pinch salt

Combine vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to boil and pour over onions. Let steep covered for 36 hours.

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SIMPLE VINAIGRETTE

1/2 shallot, finely diced

1 clove garlic, grated

1/3 c red vinegar

1 T granulated sugar

1 c extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Combine shallot, garlic, vinegar and sugar in a bowl. Slowly whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper.

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