Nemacolin Blog
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Nemacolin Chef Is An Auction Addict... Buying Local Is A MUST!

There is nothing like the local produce grown in Western Pennsylvania. This time of year the tomatoes are ripe, corn is super sweet and the onions are memorable. Yes, a memorable onion, who would have thought it to be possible? But as I walk the rows and rows of fresh local fruits and vegetables at local auctions while buying produce for all Nemacolin's restaurants, sometimes I think that the onions are so good that they look like they were photoshopped. That is what farmer attention and genuine caring for their products produces... it can be amazing.

There are countless reasons why buying local food is both rewarding and delicious, including enjoying the taste of fresh food, improved health and nutrition, environmental stewardship, and support for family farms and rural communities. But for me, and the many Chef's at Nemacolin it’s all about the unmatched flavor that the Laurel Highlands can add to a vegetable. The earthy garden that can make a huge difference between a red tomato and an Amish farmer grown tomato that was picked that day. In some cases, they might not be perfect, but when you put your nose close to them and bask in that natural fantastic smell of a freshly picked beefsteak tomato bursting with juice, there is no comparison to what you might find in a grocery store. I attend and buy from two to three rural auctions a week searching for the best of the best for our guests and get to meet some fantastic people along the way.

Developing a relationship with local farmers gives me an "in" with our local food system. At produce auctions I meet the farmer who has devoted his life to the vegetables he is holding and get incomparable insight about the growing seasons, upcoming crops, and often, take a tour of the farm our food comes from. There is nothing like rubbing elbows with the folks responsible for the food I serve and it allows me in some cases, to form fit crops to my needs and the needs of our guests.

Another significant reason to buy local, is to keep food miles to a minimum. "Food miles" refer to the distance a food item travels from the farm to your home. This all comes down to a Chef caring intensely about what they serve, getting the absolute best, and building strong connections to local area farms that are trying to survive.

I was speaking to an Amish gentleman this week about the comparison of his tomatoes to those grown in far-away places and he summed it up in a very short but meaningful manner. “Chef, relative to tomatoes from far and near it’s simple… gas ripens theirs and God ripens mine.” Hard to argue with a hardworking man who is so in touch with his product he absolutely dares you to compare.

Chef Brent Wertz
Food & Beverage VP, Executive Chef
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort

Sweater Vest Versus ( and?) Cardigan

“No, it’s a cardigan but thanks for noticing.” Ah, one of the greatest lines in cinema history. 1994, Dumb and Dumber. Completely not golf related, but still ridiculously funny to me.

I don’t know exactly where I planned on going with those first few sentences, but the gist of this blog is to help you decide the begging golf attire question… sweater vest or cardigan? Big decision, I know! We are slowly climbing down the downward spiral to cooler temperatures and have to start thinking about fall fashion on the golf course.

I’m not talking about drenching yourself in a bright orange polo with an even brighter orange pair of pants with “matching” orange shoes and an even brighter orange hat. Which, I should mention is brighter than the bright orange pants. That’s a bit much to see on TV let alone in person. Let’s be a bit more congenial towards your fellow golfers and dress a little less loud. (On the other hand, if you can pull off the Loudmouth golf pants, hey, go for it!)

To me, the big decision for this fall is sweater vest or cardigan. I am a big fan of sweater vests. Always have been and always will be. But where did this newly popular cardigan come from? I’m a fan… but please don’t tell my sweater vests that are safe and secure in my closest eagerly awaiting to be released with the cool temperatures ahead. In fact, one of those sweater vests just might have the chance to be broken out this week (high of 71 degrees in the mountains). I’m not going to lie, I have missed that extra layer! I’m perplexed though…wearing a cardigan is a brave move, at least for me. The last time I wore a cardigan was in elementary school and it was not by choice. Do I free up a hangar in my closest for a nice, new cardigan? (Maybe if I start smoking I can pull off a cardigan?)

Ah, this is more the look I am going for…a classic look, but young. At this point, it’s not sweater vest VERSUS cardigan… it is sweater vest AND cardigan. Now the big decision is, do I start accumulating the same amount of cardigans as sweater vests or stay true to what I know? I’ll figure it out as time goes on I suppose (or until my wife goes shopping for me next).

I don’t claim to be an individual with vast fashion knowledge. Heck, I wear socks with sandals and horizontal striped Polo's with vertically striped pants and I don’t think twice about it. But what I do know is that if you don’t play golf well, at least dress like you know how to play. That’s my mantra and I hold true to it ‘till the very end of each season. Then I break out my tan cords for the winter. The End.

Ryan Carmen
Golf Operations Manager
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort