Wayne Gibson is the executive chef at the Castle Hill Inn and Resort in Newport, R.I.
Castle Hill is a private resort contained within an elegantly restored Victorian mansion on the seacoast of Rhode Island.
As the inn's executive chef, Mr. Gibson serves Northeast regional cuisine using fresh, native foods - traditional fare with a twist. His menu, which changes every two months, relies on a local fishing fleet that supplies the chef with fish, cod and striped bass. The inn has a licensed farmer on staff, so Mr. Gibson can use produce grown on the premises.
A graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., Mr. Gibson went to the Castle Hill after working as chef at Biba, Lydia Shire's famous restaurant in Boston, and Angels in Providence, where he was declared Rhode Island's "best new chef" in 1993.
When he isn't cooking, Gibson likes to teach. At a cooking class he conducted at nearby Sakonnet Vineyards, the 31-year-old chef began with the basics - demonstrating the proper way to make a chicken stock. He recommends using tender young carrots, peeled onions and corncobs with just enough water to cover the chicken bones and main ingredients. He emphasized the importance of skimming off any impurities that float to the top of the stock.
"It's all right to use dried herbs, but never salt or pepper your stock," he advises. "I like to let my stock cool, bring to a second boil and continue skimming so that I end up with as clear a stock as possible."kBelow is Mr. Gibson's recipe for Cheddar and ale soup. Serve with corn bread and a salad.
CHEDDAR AND ALE SOAP
1 pound bacon, sliced and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3/4 cup flour
11/2 gallons chicken stock
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
11/2 pounds Cheddar cheese, grated
2 12-ounce bottles ale
In a large pot, render the bacon over medium-high heat until soft. Add the diced onion and pepper, cooking until soft. Add the flour and mix well to make a light roux.
Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the jalapeno pepper. Stir in the cheese in small amounts. Pour in the ale. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until thickened. Using a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches, then serve, reheating if necessary. Makes 12 servings.
Golden Corn Bread
4 cups yellow corn meal
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 quart milk
1 cup margarine or butter, melted
In large bowl, combine corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
In separate bowl, combine milk, eggs and melted margarine or butter. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix well. Pour batter into greased 12-by-18-inch baking pan. Bake in preheated 400-degree F oven until light golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool and cut into 2-inch squares. Makes 24 servings.
Note: If desired, 2 cups fresh corn kernels may be added to the batter. Mix well before baking.