There’s a big, new personality at Topnotch Resort that comes along with big, new menu! Meet Chef Dustin Johnson, the driving force behind our culinary team – a chef with Vermont roots steeped in southern cuisine and wrapped in a huge smile. If you haven’t stopped by to taste his creations or say hi yet, get to know him here with a quick interview.
When did your love of flavor and cooking start?
I would say that my love for food and cooking started at a very early age. My family would make sausage in my grandmother’s kitchen once a year. Holidays where always a time when we would gather around different dishes and feast.
What's your food philosophy?
If you won’t eat it, don’t serve it. Take pride in the food you are presenting. I want them to remember this meal for weeks. Not just while it’s in their digestive track. Respect the animals that have died to give us these products to use. Make sure the farms and companies you are supporting are doing things the correct way.
What's the most obscure food you've tried?
How do you like to incorporate the flavors of Vermont into your Southern food? I like to use techniques from southern cuisine with northern ingredients. There is some produce up here you can’t grow down south.
Describe your cooking style.
I cook what’s in season and what’s available to me. Once I get an idea in my head it will just go on and on until I get it out of my head. Once it is on a plate then the process really starts. Changing the acidity. Adding texture. Editing it until it’s truly something I am proud of.
What's a tool or ingredient you can't live without?
My spoons. Every time I go to start an event, I go through all my spoons and pick out the ones that are perfect for what I need this dinner.
What makes you come back to Vermont?
I missed the sense of community up here. It really feels like everyone is looking out for each other.
What's your process for crafting a menu?
Always start with the produce that’s in season. Your dish will only be as good as your produce. After I find what I would like to use then I build out from there. What goes well. What contrasts. What is the point of this dish?
What chefs do you admire? Favorite cookbooks?
Sean Brock and his book Heritage
If you weren't a chef, what profession would you entertain?
I always thought I would make an amazing clown. I can ride a unicycle. I couldn’t ever get the hang of juggling. But I bet you I could if I wasn’t so busy learning how to handle a knife.
Your ideal last meal is...
Nashville hot chicken sandy.