Sunday Brunch with Chef John Leonard at Goodstone Inn & Restaurant in Middleburg, VA

Happy Sunday!  We're re-introducing a new feature on MB called "Sunday Brunch." In this monthly feature, we'll be taking you on a tour of some venues across the country, plus interviews with executive chefs, caterers, mixologists, and great recipes.

This week we’re stepping foot in the quaint little town of Middleburg, Virginia where the Goodstone Inn and Restaurant serves a population just under 1,000.

With Washington, D.C. but one hour away, Goodstone is the perfect country getaway with 265-acres of land to enjoy hiking, bike riding or simple worry-free southern hospitality. In addition to the miles of farmland surrounding the area, the property has a spa set in a renovated farmstead barn, a wine cellar with 1,500 bottle selections, and a heated outdoor pool overlooking the vast countryside.

The Inn offers six historic guesthouses to choose from, including a renovated cottage, barn and carriage house. Whilst enjoying the southern estate, you are guaranteed a breakfast with fresh eggs provided by one of the 120 chickens being raised nearby –but you’ll be surprised to find that this farm-to-table dining experience also includes an award-winning French restaurant, run by Chef John Leonard.

Briefly tell us a little bit about yourself, your training.

“I’ve been [cooking] my whole life, since the early years of high school.”

Born and raised in Northern Virginia, Chef Leonard has traveled and worked in kitchens in D.C., New York, and most recently Ashville, NC. For the past year and half, he has graced the restaurant at Goodstone with his culinary prowess. “It’s good to be back home, and doing my kind of food.”

The Goodstone Restaurant is based on the landscape’s overall theme of French Country Side – providing signature dishes befitting of those seen in a French kitchen. Drawing from his farm-to-table background, Chef Leonard creates the French-inspired menu using fresh ingredients provided by the farmer on site.

Though the Inn and Restaurant is traditional in both its style and presentation, the self-taught Chef brings innovative ideas, experience and creativity to the Goodstone dining experience.

What is your favorite cuisine to cook?

“My mom’s side of the family is from Georgia, and my grandmother really inspired me as a child. So watching my grandmother cook, and learning from her – Southern American food is where my roots are.”

At your facility, what are the popular menu items?

“I do this mushroom strudel that’s wrapped in filo dough. I tried to take it off the menu, and I had a small revolt.

We also do a ChateauBriand, which is a center-cut filet mignon for two. And we do the table-side service for that dish.

 

Above Photo: ChateauBriand

Any advice or recommendation for brides-to-be on wedding day menus?

Since most wedding venues, like Goodstone’s French restaurant, has a particular style of food they specialize in, Chef Leonard suggests that brides make their rehearsal dinner their own. “I’ve done rehearsals dinners this past year where couples have done homey, family-style [menus]. And I’ve had a couple of families bring in personal recipes.”

With the Inn being more French attitude, that’s what we lean towards for the rehearsal dinner.”

Our readers are from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds.  If a bride wants a particular type of dish incorporated into her menu, how do you handle those requests?

Chef Leonard has “a little flavor in every pot,” with experience in dishes ranging from Asian cuisine, to Mexican delicacies. And though he is still adding new recipes to his repertoire, the chef recommends that if a bride wants authentic food from her or her partner’s ancestral culture, then they should enlist the services of a chef who specializes in that particular style. This way, every aspect of the dishes served will be accurate to the taste, and their wedding menu will be as authentic as the hosts who requested it.

What does Goodstone’s menu provide that other establishments may not?

“We have a really good farm-to-table program. I’ve worked with a lot of local farmers, and we raise our own land, so it’s a working farm out here.

I try to take advantage of that as much as I can. I met a really great farmer, and we’ve worked pretty closely together on much of the planning for the year and seasons. He’s started a mushroom program for us, and we’ve inoculated a bunch of logs in our woods. And so we’re growing our own mushrooms.

I’m working with a really great group of people out here, and we’re all on the same page about what we want to do. And it really helps to have that comradery and teamwork.”

 

Visit Goodstone to learn more about this gorgeous venue and follow them on twitter and facebook to stay up to date.

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