Executive Chef Dean Maupin is a Southern-born chef who’s discovered Wisconsin Cheese. At Fossett’s, in historic Keswick Hall in Monticello, Virginia, recently ranked Condé Nast’s #1 small resort in America, Maupin reinterprets the culinary culture instilled by Thomas Jefferson, using fresh ingredients – many of them local. As our December Featured Chef, we talked with Chef Maupin about the ingredients, food and cheese he uses in his kitchen.
How he started cooking:
I have always had a love affair with food. Growing up, my grandfather owned a fruit stand and my parents were great cooks.
On cooking style:
Our style [at Fossett’s] is flavor forward. I’m a local boy – an eighth generation native – so we source many of our ingredients from the county. We work with 25 different farmers for local produce and we have our own vegetable garden at the hotel, we procure the greatest ingredients, the menu is great, and ever-changing.
On Wisconsin Cheese:
During a cheese tasting, many years ago, I really fell in love with Wisconsin Cheese. I tried some amazing cheeses – Mobay, Dunbarton Blue – I instantly knew these were some great cheeses and Wisconsin was doing something special. I love the generational values of the cheesemakers. A lot of the Wisconsin cheesemakers have learned the craft from their grandparents. The whole Wisconsin Cheese community is an amazing group of people. There’s so much pride in heritage that takes place and it’s just a great product.
Wisconsin Cheese at Fossett’s:
Wisconsin Cheese finds its way into many of the dishes we do, and it has a bold presence on our cheese menu. We have a really extensive cheese menu and now we are starting to focus our amenity cheese boards solely on Wisconsin Cheese.
Wisconsin Cheese Favorites:
What I’m really enamored with right now is Rush Creek Reserve. I’ve never tasted something so perfect in my life – my three-year-old and I finished it off. It was unbelievable. I heard that it just got the cover of Culture magazine. I’m also a huge fan of Carr Valley Cheeses and I’ve always used the Crave Brothers Mascarpone – I’ve gone through three cases a week, for six or seven years. I’m a huge fan of the Hook’s Blues and Pleasant Ridge is always great. Cheese means a lot to me. I have an appreciation for it. I get goosebumps just thinking of it.
On food trends:
Right now, I’m really into toasts – taking a good, crusty bread, brushing it with some thyme butter, sprinkling some sea salt on it, and just slathering it with melted Dunbarton Blue cheese. Pick up a toast and take a bite – great flavors. We serve it with a nice pancetta and apple walnut salad – our region is historically known for apples – we have some great local apples.
On serving cheese:
I always tell people to have a variety. Try to do five different cheeses. Do some sort of mixed-milk cheese, start with a mild cheese and work your way to the strongest. I’m also a big fan of condiments – apple butter, pumpkin butter, spicy fruit mustards, quince paste, candied nuts, sweet and salty nuts.