Tell us about yourself and what you do for a living?
I’m the Executive Chef and Catering Director at The Neversink General Store, a local company based in the tiny town of Neversink, New York. Our mission is to serve the community and visitors with a combination of homemade food and sophisticated dishes that one usually finds in bigger cities. We often work with local farmers and suppliers to enrich our menus. My education is based on French culinary, so I tend to prepare my dishes with big flair, lots of visual impact and out of the ordinary flavors. Before I moved permanently to the Catskill Mountains, I worked for legendary Chef Jean George, in Manhattan, and mastered the essence of great food and a total respect for the ingredients.
How long have you been living in Sullivan Catskills?
I’ve been in Neversink for almost three years, and the rest of Sullivan County for 20 years. My husband Paul and I purchased our first weekend home here in 1999, when we were considered the exotic Prada-wearing gays that everybody fantasized had caviar brunches by candlelight.
If you moved from somewhere else, what influenced your decision to move here?
I was brought in from Manhattan with the freedom to explore a whole range of food experiences. I was born in the Czech Republic and grew up in Brazil. Having lived most of my life in big cities, the opportunity to make a difference in a small community is very gratifying to me.
What are your favorite places to go for a cocktail and/or dinner?
My favorite places in the area for cocktails and dinners, besides my own house are Henning’s Local and The Catskill Brewery. There is also a very charming place in Callicoon called the Wine Merchant, which has a great wine selection for sale and a small tapas restaurant next to it. Once a week the chef offers a one-dish meal, usually an amazing pasta. Quite charming!
What cultural attractions are a must see for visitors?
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is our anchoring cultural space here in Sullivan County, with concerts all summer long and lots of special events. Right now, in partnership with Bethel Woods, we are planning a Brazilian Carnival event for later this year, with typical Brazilian food and a group of samba musicians and dancers. This year, Bethel Woods is organizing a fantastic line-up of events to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Woodstock Festival that happened in the very land where Bethel Woods is.
A friend is coming to Sullivan Catskills for the first time… Please describe the perfect weekend.
I would start my weekend with kayaking at Neversink Reservoir, one of the main sources of drinking water for New York City. If you’re hungry after all the exercise, I would drive a quick mile to the cute BBQ Shack at The Neversink General Store to try the best brisket and other smoked meats in all of upstate New York! After a nice-relaxing siesta contemplating the Catskill Mountains, I would go for a relaxing swim at the famous Blue Hole, on Peakmoose Road.
The next day should start as a brunch with friends (we do cook at home a lot around here and almost everybody grows a vegetable garden), then a great hike to the Giant Ledge on Frost Valley Road. Some antiquing in Ulster County is the best way to end a perfect weekend.
What are the best places to truly enjoy the natural beauty of the area?
A drive on Route 97 along the Delaware River, which is breathtaking all the way. My first country house was in Delaware County. Nobody thinks New York State can be so green and exuberant!
What is your favorite time of year in Sullivan Catskills and why?
For me it is summer, with all the outdoor activities, farmers markets, antiquing, yard sales, BBQs, Bethel Wood’s shows, long hikes, biking, and swimming… But our Autumns are also a spectacular feast for the eyes. The change of colors in the foliage is something you’ll never forget.
What’s one souvenir to bring back for friends or family?
We are in maple country. Our maple syrup is unbelievable and I’ve never presented anyone with it who didn’t go cuckoo for the sweet treat.
Please finish this sentence: Don’t leave Sullivan Catskills without…
…planning your next trip back!