By Charles Dubow
“You know it’s funny but our business actually increased during the pandemic,” Chef Chris Eddy tells me. “The logistics and layout of our property and the way that the cottages are spread out made us the perfect COVID escape destination.”
Eddy is the chef at Winvian Farm in Morris, a Relais & Chateaux hotel that has quietly become the most luxurious inn and restaurant in Litchfield County. Spread out over nearly 100 acres, Winvian offers 18 distinct cottages—ranging from a lighthouse in the woods, a two-level tree house and, yes, one incorporating a full-size Sikorsky helicopter—that cater expressly to a discerning clientele who, even before the pandemic, wished to get away from it all. “We had guests coming out with their families who had never heard of us before and now have become regulars.”
The life of a hotel chef, especially someone with Eddy’s high standards, is a demanding one. You not only need to attend to the needs of guests three times a day at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as special events such as weddings and other celebrations, you also have to welcome local diners who are looking for a memorable meal. And then there’s room service.
But Eddy, a native Vermonter, takes it all in stride. He has been at Winvian since it opened in 2006 and has been instrumental in creating its world-class reputation. Trained in the kitchens of maestros such as Daniel Boulud and Alain Ducasse, Eddy says he leapt at the opportunity to come to Winvian and create its kitchen. “There was no playbook when I came here. I am so grateful to [owners] the Smith family. They have backed me every step of the way. I said I wanted a garden, they gave me a garden.”
And what a garden. Winvian’s garden spans 4 acres and grows more than 70 percent of its vegetables and largely dictates Eddy’s menus. “We have a new ingredients-based menu every week, which gives us incredible freedom .”
Dinners are prix fixe and start at $125 per person and the tasting menu is $150 (wine not included). The highlights of my meal, to name only a few, were a carrot-sweet potato soup with croutons and horseradish cream; seared tuna with polenta, olives, scallions, chimichurri and romesco; hand-made ricotta gnudi with spinach and sage butter; and a roasted dry-aged Pekin duck breast that looked and tasted like a perfectly grilled New York Strip Steak and which absolutely blew my mind.
Today, working with brothers Paolo and Stefano Middei, who are respectively general manager and mâitre’d, Eddy oversees a team of 40 that does everything from growing the vegetables to preparing the sauces to serving the meals—and it is all done impeccably.
“Creating great food is the reason I am here. To me, fine dining has nothing to do with tablecloths or silver. It’s about how much love, passion, and research you can bring to a meal. We’re like entertainers. People come for the show and we want to give them the best show we can. It’s the greatest job I’ve ever had.”
155 Alain White Road, Morris, winvian.com 860-567-9600